A handful of spots where my friends and I have gotten tattoos. Ok, I just have one, and had to hold my own hand ... but nevertheless, here's a handful of local ink suggestions.
One of the most beautiful cherry blossom tattoos I ever saw came from True Blue. Those are almost a cliche now, but when they were new, my hair stylist had one that reached across her shoulder and shed petals down her arm. It was gorgeous.
Chris Gunn (co-owner of Southside Tattoo) commands a long waiting list, but it's seriously worth it. Afterwards, you can go have a drink at Continental Club and raise a glass to your new ink!
I got my first ever tattoo here, with Carlos -- a little tiny star on the back of my neck. Granted, it wasn't that challenging, but Carlos bent over backwards to make sure I was comfortable, and even let me feel the little needle (inkless) on my skin to make sure I could handle the pain. Service with a smile.
A friend of mine got a jackalope here, and constantly gets compliments on it. Well, compliments and a few people asking if the artist messed up mid-ink -- but, we Austinites know better.
Female tattoo artists are somewhat of a rarity in this town, so if you're more comfortable with that, visit Debi: the "Mom" behind Mom's. She does beautiful work, and is honest (re: blunt) with you if your tattoo idea is questionable.
Dovetail Tattoo has a woman's touch (literally), headed up by two female tattoo artists. But the inside feels like the dressing room of a 1920s starlet, with heavy wood, vintage photos on the wall, and throwback furniture. I've seen a lot of nice portraiture work come out of here.