Can't believe reader's choice was Rock-A-Billy. I had my first tattoo done by them at age 16 with my mother's consent. I wasn't heavily tattooed when I came in, but I knew that body modification was something that held great importance to me. Most shops have artists that are heavily modified as in that profession, it's acceptable, embraced, and usually shows a dedication and appreciation of the art. I'd put a lot of thought and input into what I'd want done, and as soon as I walked into the studio I immediatley felt put off, alienated, looked down upon, and just a complete elitest atmosphere. It' s almost like you need to be a frend of someone who works there or have some sort of high underground notoraty in the community to get any sort of attention or respect from their artists. It wasn't till I came in a few times afterwards for follow ups and additional piercing pieces that I stretched there that I was given any sort of courtesy. The artist I worked with made me feel completely uncomfortable about possibly rejecting his sketch at all, took nearly a month to pull together even a shoddy outline, and the first piercing artist I worked with talked down about a well respected extensive online commmunity (Bmezine.com) and other progressive local artists, and their alteratives methods, like he knew best. I ran across a few guest/apprentices there that were sweet as pie and agreed with me on how the place was run, and it's generally over priced, uncompromising and while the work is beautiful, the attitude stinks and the atmosphere is intimidating and not at all to a condusive tattooing expierence. It's the hotspot that girls go for that cutsey butterfly for $120, and cheap little naval and nose piercings for $60, so the artists can tattoo their 'hardcore' friends in the sparetime instead while bringing in the same profit.
No doubt the quality of the work is beautiful. But you are going to get a lot of the artists prespective if you are too timid to direct him/her in exactly what you want. And even still I'd be afraid of not achieving my expectation because they hold the needle. It'll be exsquisete and you might love it and cherish it as art, get compliments and praise, but it just might not satisfy that vision you initially had.
I've never heard of Tattoo Paradise, but it sounds like it has a particularlly good reputation and I'm looking into doing a rather large piece so if anyone wants to contact me, artist or client on info of expierence or if you're an artist, more info on your shop, I'd really appreciate it.
My readers choice hands down would have been Colorfast Tattoos in Coral Springs, without a doubt. Can't beat their quality, atmosphere, staff and artists, the variety of talent and flexibilty. Loyal as hell to them, and would be using them for this piece I want but its such an important piece I really want to search all the portfolios I can before I commit. Otherwise, colorfast, hands down.