Larry Spano tattoos a cover-up on Terri Wendel of Kent on Wednesday. Terri and her partner, Dave, have been coming to Defiance for over eight years. “Once you get a good tattoo artist, you don’t go anywhere else. Period,” Dave said. Spano, a 15-year seasoned tattoo artist, has been with Defiance since 2009. 

Best of Kent 2019

Winner: Defiance Tattoos

For the past 13 years, Defiance Tattoos has been tattooing and piercing members of the Kent State community. Nestled next to everyone’s favorite “freaky fast” sandwich place, Jimmy John’s, Defiance welcomes customers of all kinds.

It’s not just Kent State students who come in to get tatted; the shop is also popular among community members.

“We’ve been here for a long time,” owner Rob Bohn said. “So if the shop’s been around for a long time, there’s a reason because they’re not necessarily the easiest business. You know, you are busy consistently. … That means you’re doing something right.”

Defiance has come in first place in the Best Tattoo/Piercing Parlor several years in a row, solidifying it as a city favorite.

Second: War Hourse Ink 

Just outside of downtown Kent on East Summit Street sits War Horse Ink. The veteran-owned tattoo and piercing studio has two locations, one in Kent and one in downtown Ravenna.

According to its website, there are nine artists and piercers, giving customers plenty of options to find the one who’s right for them.

Best Tattoo Parlor- South Water Tattoos

Kent State alumna and South Water Studios tattoo artist Wendi Koontz tattoos Cuyahoga Falls local Bruce Neal on Tuesday, April 18, 2016. FILE.

Third: South Water Studios

A little farther outside of downtown Kent rests South Water Studios. The studio opened in January 2014 and has been tattooing city residents ever since.

“You have to see it to believe it,” said Wendi Koontz, co-owner of the studio. “I want people to be comfortable. This is the kind of place your mom would want you to go.”

Although the studio does traditional, artistic body tattooing, it also works in cosmetic tattooing and permanent makeup, such as eyebrow microblading and eyeliner and eyelash enhancement.

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