South County’s Tattoo Scene Has Never Been Brighter

From classic art styles to photorealism, seven studios offering spaces for creativity and healing


"There’s a lot of good tattooing happening in South County,” says Andrew Milko, owner of The Other Club, an art and tattoo studio in Wickford. “Providence has an interesting history of tattooing, but South County has its own, and a lot of great artists.”

Milko knows history. He set up shop in a church building built in 1885 and spends his days in the dormers, bathed in natural light with wide pine floors beneath his feet. “I’ve always been into old buildings and places that feel like they’ve got friendly ghosts hanging around,” he says. “It’s inspiring to be in an old church surrounded by old buildings, and when people come in to get tattooed, I want them to be in a history-filled place. Surroundings are so important.”

Milko draws inspiration from what he calls “the golden age of illustration” – the late 1800s into the early 1900s when artists were taking a purposeful approach to making commercial art for books and advertisements. “A lot of the things we think of as art were just their job,” he says. “I like taking a modern approach to that era of art and design.”

There’s a direct line from that style of illustration to Milko’s tattooing. “I like classic American, Japanese, and classic decorative styles,” he says. Trained in illustration, when Milko works with clients, he approaches tattoo design as he would any other piece of custom art, but respects the medium. “Working on paper versus skin is so different. You’re working on a human with thoughts and feelings and nerve endings. It’s an incredibly personal thing. And even if you’re prepared on paper, it’s always going to be a different design on skin. Skin, as a medium, has limitations. But those limitations make an interesting end result that you can’t have on paper.”

Rachel WS is the owner of Rachel WS Fine Art Tattoos, the only tattoo shop in Narragansett.  She uses her fine arts training in her approach, but rather than two-dimensional – “I don’t like to draw,” she says with a laugh – she focused on sculpting. “I really loved using my hands. I loved getting my hands dirty in that type of physical interactive work.”

In a sense, she didn’t abandon her love for sculpture when she became a tattoo artist. “Tattooing feels 3D to me. Not only am I delving into the skin a little bit, my style feels sculptural,” says WS, whose expertise is in creating photorealistic tattoos, which take longer to complete than traditional tattoos. “My designs take a lot of sittings, and I build up a sculpture on the skin,” she continues, also emphasizing her respect for the human experience of being tattooed. “You have to be gentle and easy and nuanced. You can only go over the skin a little bit at each sitting. And the next time, you go over it a little bit more until it eventually looks like a photograph. Seeing how it heals between sittings is a benefit because I can then go back into it and perfect anything that needs touching up.”     

In addition to photorealistic tattoos, WS specializes in scar work. “A lot of people in the industry tend to be scared of scar work, but I love doing it, and because I love doing it, I’ve gotten proficient with it,” she explains. WS works on stretch marks, with mastectomy patients, and with people who struggle with self-harm. “Flowers usually work great on cut marks. I like to put beauty where pain was and help people reclaim their bodies and their confidence.”

A lot of the work WS does surrounds tragedy and triumph, and that requires a gentle presence that puts people at ease. “I go deep with people emotionally,” she says. “People feel comfortable crying with me, and I think part of that is my female essence. It’s such a blessing and an honor that people trust me with their skin, their emotions, their stories.”

Milko also acknowledges the therapeutic experience of being tattooed. “A lot of my clients are working on large pieces, so they come back a lot. You get to go through things with them,” he says. “And maybe you choose a design because you like it, or maybe because it’s meaningful. Either way, you get to have time that’s just for you, and you get to leave with an image that is going to make you feel different and better. Being tattooed can be cathartic.”    

“People joke that tattoo artists are therapists,” says WS. “But it is healing work, and the more I’ve done it, the more extensive that part of my practice has become.” WS was propelled into tattooing, in part, to support herself and her children after escaping an abusive marriage. “I entered this work with a lot of trauma and pain, and the more I helped people with their pain, the more I’ve healed. It’s symbiotic. The healing work is the crux of my practice.”

Rachel WS is booked through 2027, but says she never turns down scar work, with more information online at, and Andrew Milko books appointments a month in advance at


Tattoos Near You

South County is full of talented tattoo artists with different approaches to the art form – read on to learn more:

Black Lotus Tattoo Studios
The four artists and two apprentices who work at Black Lotus Tattoo can design tattoos of all styles. Inside the shop, movies playing on TVs, toys, and art-covered walls keep clients entertained. People who work at Black Lotus call it calm, but visually loud. Walk-ins are accepted, but appointments are preferred. South Kingstown,

Hollow Moon Tattoos & Sorcery
An LGBTQ-owned vegan tattoo studio that takes a sustainable approach, Hollow Moon owner Monica Hollow embraces the spiritual element of tattooing, from reiki and hypnosis to spirit-guided tattoos, in which she channels her clients’ loved ones or spirit guides. Hollow says, “My goal is to have my client walking away feeling better about something. Feeling lighter. Feeling connected to their intuition, their guides, their loved ones. And having a tattoo as a reminder of their experience.” Tattoos are by appointment only. North Kingstown,

Irish Rose Tattoo
Printed on the window of Irish Rose Tattoo is the saying, “This is a safe place for terrible people.” This welcome sign is a hint of the fun environment you’ll find inside this shop, where five artists and one apprentice do a variety of styles. Walk-ins are accepted, but appointments are preferred. Westerly, Facebook: Irish Rose Tattoo Westerly, RI

Marco’s Tattoo
This relaxed and homey shop is decorated in a soothing neutral color palette, and rather than trying to fill a niche, the three artists who work at Marco’s Tattoo try to accommodate as many different styles as possible; although they enjoy creating fine line, sculptural, comic book, and anime-style art. Walk-ins are accepted, but appointments are preferred. Wakefield,

Wakefield Tattoo
Owner Zander Thorn has been tattooing for more than 15 years and worked all over the country before returning to his hometown to open Wakefield Tattoo on Main Street in 2019. Along with five other talented artists, the team is committed to designing custom tattoos their clients will love. Walk-ins are accepted, but appointments are preferred to guarantee your artist of choice.



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