Unlike clothing, which can be swapped with changing trends and seasons, a tattoo is emblazoned on its wearer for life. Though it might not be for all of us, it is hard not to appreciate the commitment a body art fan has — be it a full-color sleeve or just a hint of ink, and even more so in a city where skin is front and center, all year long. Miami loves its ink: We happen to be the most tattooed city in the US, with a staggering 24 parlors per 100,000 people. That means there's a lot of options...and a lot of duds to sift through when looking for that perfect piece.
So in order to get the low-down on Who's Who of Miami Ink, we went, well, straight to Mr. Miami Ink himself, Ami James. Not only did he garner Miami heaps of national attention, but his show was so popular, it inspired two spin-offs, one following James to New York. A session at his Love Hate Studio is one of the most sought-after appointments, not only in the city, but in the U.S. of A.. So lucky for us, Ami James handpicked his five favorite South Florida artists and explained why he loved each of his choices, and also gave us crucial tips meant for the tattoo-curious.
Check out to see who made Ami James' Tattoo Artists To Know list, plus find out the surprising lesson we learned about Miami tattooing.
Photo: Courtesy of Ami James
Come into a tattoo parlor knowing exactly what you want, or know enough about an artist to feel safe enlisting their help to design something bespoke for you. For instance, Love Hate's Federico Ferroni is an absolute pro when it comes to dragons, so Game Of Thrones fans: He'd be your perfect fit.
Ami Says: “Federico has a great clientele world-wide and has established himself well with A-listers. I know he will do great things, and his career is really just blossoming. After all, he tattoos my absolute favorite dragons.”
Photos: Courtesy Federico Ferroni
Troy Lane, A A A Tattooing
If you are looking for a piece that is big, bold, and bright, check out super veteran Troy Lane at A A A. His use of color is legendary, and the result looks as clean and crisp a year later as it did when it was first finished. Flowers, animals, and chromatic, intricate scenes are Troy's specialty.
Ami Says: "Miami is lucky to have a few great old school artists. Troy is one of the best, and he does some of the cleanest ink lines out there. In fact, very few tattooers make it to his level of professionalism when it comes to a solid line."
Photos: Courtesy of Troy Lane/A A A Tattooing
Luiz Segatto, Tattoo Gallery By Luiz Segatto
Luiz is a beloved Miami resident, often making it into Miami New Times as the city's best tattooer. Not one for flashy fine lines or delicate art, he's an example of a pro who is good at flash tattoos and clean, solid work.
Ami Says: “Luiz is one of the established greats in this area. If you are looking for an old school tattoo from an old school guy, he is the only man for the job.”
Tattoo Gallery by Luiz Segatto, 5582 Northeast 4th Court, Suite 6C (at Biscayne Boulevard); 305-754-2434.
Photos: Courtesy Luiz Segatto
Chris Garver, Love Hate Studio
Of course, Ami had to give a shout out to fellow Miami Ink-er Chris Garver, who is the go-to artist for high profile clients and boasts a two-year long waiting list, which means that prospective clients will get some of the best work in the world...but will have to wait for it. He's remarkably well-known for his Japanese-style work (he had several apprenticeships abroad), but sets the mark high for all styles.
Ami says: “Chris Garver is the best artist in South Florida and one of the best artists in the world, hands down. One of the reasons I love his work so much is because he is good at everything, no matter what type of tattoo. Absolutely everything he does, he does well, which is more than I can say for 90% of the artists out there."
Photos: Courtesy Chris Garver
Vince Moisdon, Colorfast Tattoo
Make sure to let your opinion be heard: If the positioning of your tattoo isn't right, work with your artist to figure it out. He or she honestly wants you to love it — you are the best advertisement a tattooer has. Working with Vince is a breeze, and he's an all-around pro, with shading, line-work, photorealism, and traditional tattoos.
Ami Says: “Vince's amazing work is tough to fault, even with the most trained eye. He is one of those guys who has managed to surpass most artists in this area through sheer talent, even without the opportunity to be taught by top-notch artists.”
Photos: Courtesy of Vince Moisdon
When Ami gave us his picks, we were wowed by the talent and diversity of the artists. One thing, however, struck us: Why weren't there any ladies located on this list? We asked Ami, and he said that he simply didn't know many lady inkers who currently called Miami home. Since tattooing isn't just about art but health, capability, and professionalism, we really wanted someone pro-approved.
So we are asking our eagle-eyed readers: Do you have any recommendations of truly talented tattoers in the area? If so, Ami (and us!) would love to hear your suggestions in the comments.
Ami did point out the Orlando-based talent Cristina Garcia as one of his favorite artists anywhere, and when we saw her gorgeous linework and imaginative tattoos, we were floored too. She's worth the drive alone for her dramatic artwork, on-point portraiture, and thin, sharp lines.