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Best Tattoo Shops to Turn You Into a Painted Lady (Or Man) 

By Kate Conger

Everyone's getting inked these days — but it's less common to see a truly stunning tattoo. Luckily, artists have flocked here since the Barbary Coast era, and finding one to collaborate with won't be nearly as painful as the tattoo itself. The man partially responsible for San Francisco's predilection toward tattooing, Don Ed Hardy, still runs Tattoo City (700 Lombard St., 345-9437) after 40 years in the business. His small team of artists adeptly covers a range of tattoo styles. Or venture to Idle Hand (575 Haight St., 552-4353), where artist Holly Ellis doles out remarkable black-and-gray portraits of loved ones, pets, and, of course, Elvis. In SOMA, Seventh Son (65 Langton St., 551-7766) offers large-scale custom designs, and, for tattoo-loving commitment-phobes, T-shirts created in collaboration with Colin Kaepernick, based on his tattoos. For traditional style and the gentlest hand we've ever sat for, visit Ali Samantha at Mom's (1408 Haight St., 864-6667). If you're in the market for fearsomely vivid color work, Skull & Sword (3415 Cesar Chavez St., 552-4297, won't lead you astray. But no matter where you go, tip nicely and you'll be circus-ready in no time.

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