(credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Berkeley and Oakland are the East Bay’s centers of activity around the culture of tattoo parlors and tattoo artists. These five tattoo parlors get consistently high marks from their customers. After all, it’s important to be choosey and find a skilled artist who uses the needle as gently as a brush and your skin as a precious blank canvas.

We’ve covered our favorite tattoo parlors in San Francisco before. Check out our citywide picks here.

Sacred Rose Tattoo
1728 University Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94703
(510) 883-1083

San Francisco housed its original storefront in 1998, but Sacred Rose has since expanded into two East Bay locations, the second one in Albany. Feedback such as “patient, talented, great, beautiful” populate the site. Female customers note that artist Gaytha loves the challenge of reworks and cover-ups, with a special affinity for flowers, animals and funny tattoos. Call for an appointment or drop in, but remember that for price estimates, Sacred Tattoo needs to see the design and discuss the place on the body to offer a quote.

Temple Tattoo
384 17th St.
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 451-6423

Freddy Corbin opened this shop in 1998 with a mission “to do tattoos with love.” The work displayed by seven skilled artists on the website is highly detailed and colorful, displaying impressive drawing skills. If a tricky cover-up tattoo is on your must-do list, show the artists here. It doesn’t phase them at all and they’ve had stellar results. Tattoo artist Chummy is here on Thursdays and also works at Tattoo 13. 

Berkeley Tattoo Parlor
2804 San Pablo Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 549-2828

Anthony, Peter and Shawn are the artists who can make your ideas happen. If you’re thinking of something, they can interpret and creatively engage with your visions. Itching for extensions of existing ink? That’s another way to go. The website has more than 150 pictures shown in portfolios and information for three more Instagram albums, so you can see lots of work from happy customers. Leave a message or stop by if you can’t get through on the phone, as these guys are busy.

Sacred Tattoo
707 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 251-8287

Come in for a conversation if you’re looking for a chilled-out atmosphere and artists who take the time to discuss the work you’d like done. It’s a rather big place with a good number of artists, where piercings are as popular as tattoos. Sacred Tattoo has been in the business for over a decade and has a good following as well as walk-in clientele. A big selection of flash is on hand.

Tattoo 13
4917 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 655-1313

Open until 9 p.m. six nights a week, this is a good place for after-work hours. Browse more than 100 vibrant photos from four artists on the website to see a virtual museum of the four artists’ work. Chummy is also at Temple Tattoo on Thursdays and it’s easy to see how Hector Fong has earned the nickname Fine Line Fong. Expect a consultative approach, friendly and professional with lots of attention to detail.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on Examiner.com.