14 Best Female Tattoo Artists in Denver
If you’re looking to get a tattoo in Denver, the options might seem overwhelming. The mile-high city is home to over 100 tattoo studios in the metro area and it’s come a long way since “Frenchie” William Neely opened the city’s first shop near Colfax and Speer in 1956.
The city is brimming with talented artists and a tight-knit artistic community that bands together during tough times. In October of 2019, Denver artists mourned the death of one of the city’s best-known tattoo artists, Jayce Wallingford, who tattooed at All Sacred Tattoo Studio.
And while Wallingford’s death represents a big blow to the city, the area continues to be rich in talent and expertise.
Whether you’re looking for killer blackwork tattoos, exceptional traditional work, or some colorful neo-traditional pieces, these women represent some of the best female tattoo artists in Denver—and nearby areas—right now.
Female Tattoo Artists in Denver
Sandi Calistro works out of Ritual Tattoo and Gallery on Jason Street in Denver. Although she originally hails from New Britain, Connecticut, she’s been a part of the Denver art scene since she arrived in the city in 1997.
She’s known for her specific illustrative style, which features beautiful, large-eyed ladies and plenty of animals and nature that look like they were plucked from a storybook. Calistro excels at both colorful pieces and black and gray tattoos.
In addition to being an exceptional tattoo artist, Calistro is an equally talented fine artist who produces original paintings that hang in galleries throughout Denver. She’s also been commissioned to produce several murals around town.
It’s nearly impossible to browse through a list of the best tattoo artists in Denver without seeing Gina Ilcyszyn’s name. Ilcyszyn tattoos at Til Death Denver alongside some of the most talented artists in the city. She’s known for her incredible blackwork tattoos that often feature dotwork and mandala designs.
Her precision is something to marvel at and she always comes through with creative concepts that make her work instantly recognizable. We adore her witchy-looking women and how she handles big, abstract concepts.
Ilcyszyn also paints using watercolor and oils, and she’ll be a participating artist in Babe Walls, a city-wide mural festival that will debut in 2020 celebrating women and non-binary artists.
Also tattooing at Ritual Tattoo and Art Gallery, Rachel Patton is a well-known handpoke tattoo artist in Denver—meaning she doesn’t use any tattoo machines in her work. She was one of Sandy Calistro’s apprentices, and has grown to have a large following for her stylized pieces.
Patton specializes in botanical tattoos and traditional flash designs, doing both blackwork and color tattoos. We love the graphic look of Patton’s work, which is bolder and more pronounced than some other delicate hand-poke tattoo styles. She seems unafraid to try new things, which keeps her work fresh and always interesting.
Technically Melanie Steinway tattoos at her private studio in Littleton, Colorado (Kestrel Studios), but If you want a bird tattoo in Denver, you really should make the short drive out of the downtown and visit Steinway. While she tattoos plenty of other things (especially animals) exceptionally well, her bird pieces are something special.
While Steinway specializes in blackwork and linework, she knows how to add color to pieces to really accent the designs and make them come to life. When she’s not tattooing, Steinway is working on producing music as the solo vocalist and musician behind Queen Eider and as part of the foursome Tyto Alba.
Nature and magic abound in the work of Kit Evans, who recently joined the crew at All Sacred Tattoo in Wheatridge, Colorado. She’s been tattooing full-time since 2003 and she previously worked at Sol Tribe Tattoo in the city.
Evans handles both color and black and gray work nicely, and we love her distinct illustrative style and the gorgeous details she puts into every one of her pieces. She really excels at both botanical tattoos and animals tattoos.
You may notice a pattern here (the ladies at Ritual Tattoo and Gallery are very talented), but Jessamyn Pusatory is one of our favorite female tattoo artists in Denver who kills the traditional tattoo game. She knows how to sink ink solid black lines and bright, bold color.
We especially love her take on portrait tattoos done in a traditional style. She’s captured Frida Kahlo, Willie Nelson, and even Drake with her signature flourish. We’re big fans.
If you want wild, bold, colorful designs, look no further than the work of Kate Erso, who tattoos at Bound By Design, one of the city’s oldest tattoo parlors. Erso’s style is really unique—it has a little bit of an ‘80s and ‘90s flair with loads of modern touches. She’s not afraid to get a little wild, and we can’t get enough.
She recently joined up with some of our favorite lady tattooers for the Babeland Official tattoo tour in New Orleans and she does some pretty badass paintings in her spare time. If you’re not following her, get on it.
Oh, did you say you wanted more color tattoos? More bright, cute, in-your-face color? Well Carly Zehring is your woman. She’s the co-owner of Glass Moon Tattoo, an all-female private studio, and she specializes in incredibly colorful illustrative work.
Zehring’s work is wonderfully quirky and so goddamn cool. She does a lot of trippy psychedelic designs and adorable crystal tattoos—none of which take themselves too seriously. Her tattoos are effortlessly playful and a bunch of fun to scroll through on Instagram.
Female Tattoo Artists in Fort Collins and Boulder
If you’re willing to make the trip about an hour outside of Denver, you’ll find some additional tattoo talent that is worth exploring. These artists each have their own unique tattoo styles and are worth the extra driving time it takes to reach them.
Check out these female tattoo artists in the Fort Collins and Boulder areas.
Chloé Besson, who goes by Chloé Jane on Instagram, is an artist, photographer, and tattooer who works as an artist in residence at Boulder Creative Collective, offering her a unique, private studio space for tattooing her clients. Her work is very stylized, fine-line blackwork that looks effortless and modern.
We specifically love her vase tattoos that have beautiful details and feature little sprigs of flowers or branches. Besson hopes to one day open her own female-run tattoo shop in the Denver/Boulder area and her residency at Boulder Creative Collective is serving as an incubator for that. She’s definitely one to watch.
We’ve been fawning over the work of Katherine Smith for years, so it’s a no-brainer to include her on this list. She works at Tribal Rites in Fort Collins and offers some of the coolest illustrative and neo traditional work we’ve seen. Her creativity is so refreshing and she does amazing things with color. Everything she puts out is clean and just really dope. We adore her work—and you should too.
Originally from Sarasota, Florida, Hannah Greenstein is now a permanent artist at Magnetic Tattoo in Fort Collins. She’s been tattooing for over three years, and we simply love her versatility. Greenstein’s portfolio showcases color and black and gray, neo traditional, and even a little bit of Japanese.
She really excels at animal and botanical tattoos, so if you’re looking for that subject matter, she’s definitely someone to consider.
If you’re looking for a watercolor tattoo artist in the Denver area, check out the work of Kelsey Brown, who works in a private studio called Entropy Tattoo in Louisville, Colorado (which is near Boulder). Some watercolor tattoos can look really cheesy, but Brown has managed to master the technique and truly make her pieces look artistic and elevated. Her work has beautiful movement in it and she handles both abstract concepts and realistic requests with equal amounts of creativity.
Meredith Little Sky
For some really rad tattoos with feminine, cutesy flair, don’t sleep on the work of Meredith Little Sky. She works out of Terrarium Tattoo in Fort Collins and produces sweet, sugary tattoos that decorate skin in such a fun way. She does great colored dotwork which makes her tattoos look like they have sprinkles or sparkles and she’s really managed to nail the whole kawaii vibe. If you want a tattoo that is freaking adorable, visit this woman.
Morgan Alynn is not just one of our favorite artists to follow in Colorado, she’s one of our favorite artists to follow period. She is the owner of The Cactus Coven in Longmont, Colorado—which is sandwiched between Boulder and Fort Collins, and she does some of the most beautiful, witchy illustrative work we’ve ever seen.
All of her tattoos feel shrouded in storytelling—like there’s a little bit of extra magic to them. She does both color and blackwork with precision and thoughtfulness, but her color palette is always woodsy and muted in the best way. We particularly love her lady-face tattoos and any of her pieces that involve animals. So, so good.
Main image: Tattoos (left to right) by Morgan Alynn, Gina Ilcyszyn, and Carly Zehring.