Inked Out: Fatty’s Custom Tattooz

Anyone who’s read this column before knows that whenever I travel to various places around the U.S., I like to check out tattoo shops in the area that I’m visiting. A couple of months ago, my fiancée and I took a long weekend trip to the U.S. capital, Washington D.C., for my birthday. Of course, we did the sites like the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the White House, etc. As we walked over by Dupont Circle, we noticed a sign for a tattoo shop up on the third floor. In continuing our tradition of checking out various tattoo establishments around the country, we headed up. The name of the shop was Fatty’s Custom Tattooz.

We walked into a very clean and contemporary looking shop with open tattoo stations and walls adorned with artwork. We were greeted by owner Matt Jessup, aka Fatty, who was in between clients at the time. We told him that we were from New Jersey and that we just wanted to check out his shop, which he welcomed us to do. As we looked through portfolios, I asked Fatty how long his shop has been open, and he told me that he opened Fatty’s Custom Tattooz back in 1994 in Frederick, MD, then relocated the shop to Silver Springs, MD in 1995, where he brought piercing into the fold, before moving into his current location near Dupont Circle.

Fatty explained that the artwork we were looking at on the walls of the shop were his own paintings. He says that he started painting back in 2005 and in 2009, he actually held an art show at the shop called “Art Attack!” which was well received by family, friends, and many fans of his work. Fatty went on to tell us that he was happily celebrating with his 20th year as a shop owner this year and he doesn’t regret a minute of it.

Fatty surrounds himself with two other tattoo artists in Gilda Acosta and James Haun, and a piercer who called herself Michelle Massacre. He says that all of his artists are multi-faceted and are mixed media experts who only strive for the best with each custom tattoo that they do. Fatty says that his shop is not one of those corny “pick ‘em and stick ‘em” tattoo shops, meaning a client doesn’t just come in and pick some flash art off the wall and they’ll put it on them. At Fatty’s, he, Gilda and James like to take the time to consult each client with their prospected artwork. He urges customers to come in prepared with all of their ideas and they can go from there. Fatty says that no appointments are needed for a consultation.

I asked Fatty about his “walk-in” policy and he said that walk-ins are always welcome, but appointments are most often needed to get tattooed. After the tattoo ideas are discussed and a pricing is proposed with the artist, a $100 down payment is required to make an appointment. The down payment goes toward the final bill for the tattoo. He said all of this must be done in person at the shop. After the appointment is made, Fatty says the artist will then work on creating the client’s design. Normally, this is done on the artist’s spare time or while the client waits. Once the client approves the drawing, the tattooing begins.

I asked him about prices and Fatty told me that it depends on the size of the piece. He wants his artists to be able to spend the right amount of time on each piece of art that they create instead of rushing through it. Most shops are doing this, so it’s not so different, but it is better for the customers to know that the artists are taking their time on their artwork.

Unfortunately, Fatty had to get to his next appointment, but I have to admit that we were thoroughly impressed with this D.C. tattoo shop. It was clean, it was modern, and the artwork by the artists, from what we can tell, was really second to none. When we got back to the hotel, I Googled Fatty’s and apparently, they are one of the best shops in the Washington D.C. area, so it seems we struck gold. If you’re ever in the Dupont Circle area of Washington D.C. and you have the itch to get some ink, I urge you to stop in at Fatty’s Custom Tattooz, located at 1333 Connecticut Avenue NW on the Third Floor. If you have any questions about the shop or are interested in making an appointment, log onto or call (202) 452-0999. The shop is open seven days a week from noon until 8 p.m. Again, this was a great shop and I would love to see it around for another 20 years.

Well, I’m off to check out my next tattoo spot! Who knows what state it will be in! If you have a tattoo shop that you want to suggest, please e-mail me the name of the place and whom I should ask for at