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Civilized Gypsy: the best-looking tattoo parlor in town

Civilized Gypsy is the best-looking tattoo parlor in town. Hands down. 

The furniture is vintage, sturdy, and colorful. It’s like your grandma’s house on acid. And it’s fucking cool. 

Sebastian Klein (above, in the middle). A bit about him: he went to art school in NYC; he dropped out and started his tattoo apprenticeship in Manhattan; he worked his way from the east coast all the way to the west coast, making friends along the way, and earning the “Civilized Gypsy” nickname. 

Klein is into Old School. Not only with his decorations and furniture, but also with his ideas on tattooing. He explained it like this: “There are very few apprenticeships in tattooing anymore. Everything is disposable. No one is learning how the equipment is made, cleaned, sterilized, and stored. When you do an apprenticeship you learn every aspect there is to learn about tattooing, and that gives you a deeper understanding of the art. I am not seeing that happen as much as it used to.” 

Anyways, back to your grandma’s house on acid. The tattoo artists I talked with like the decor as well. “Even when you’re here alone, it feels like someone is here with you. It’s just got that much personality” Jason Dunavan, one of the artists, told me.

“It feels like home,” another artist said. 

“I didn’t want to be another tattoo ‘shop,’ so I call it a parlor. I want people to feel comfortable coming here to hang out, not just get tattooed,” Klein said. 

“We do all styles of tattoo here. Just not portraits. If you want a portrait you need to do your research and most likely travel a great distance for a solid portrait tattoo,” Klein said.

Tattooing is an art. However, I don’t think all tattoo artists are necessarily artists to the bone. Klein is a through-and-through artist. Everything he touches has art injected into it — so much so that you cannot distinguish art from a functional piece of furniture. It is a beautiful shop with warm and friendly people. 

The Civilized Gypsy Tattoo Parlor is located at 503 N. Neil Street in Champaign.

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