Inked Out: Frequency Tattoo Company

My fiancée and I were visiting some friends in the Manayunk area of Philadelphia. For those of you not familiar, it’s an area of Philly that has become very trendy like a Hoboken or a Williamsburg, Brooklyn-type of area with young hipsters living there and renting these luxurious apartments. In fact, her friend lived in a popular luxury complex in the area called the Dobson Mills apartments. It was pretty nice. After we found a parking space on Ridge Avenue to walk to her friend’s apartment, I noticed across the street a place called Frequency Tattoo Company. It was as if the sign was shining or glowing just like in the cartoons as if to say, “Hey, check me out!” Well, say no more! We were already late for the party. What’s a few more minutes?

So, we ventured into this retro-looking tattoo shop that for some reason reminded me of an old barber shop. We loved the brick wall that held up frames of old flash art and played as a backdrop to two tattooing stations. My fiancée and I also loved the antique look of the storefront and the interior feel of the shop, and let me tell you that this shop was spotless. We were greeted by a guy named John Howie, whom I later found out was the owner of the shop. I didn’t tell him that I was there to check his shop out as a columnist because of course, once again, I had no recording device; I mean, I guess I could’ve used my phone, but I also wanted John to treat me as if I were a customer so he didn’t sugarcoat anything because I was a columnist. So, I basically looked around the shop to take it all in and asked John a few questions that a normal customer would ask, and I felt that John Howie was a very honest business owner. I still never told him that I was a columnist, so I guess I was basically undercover.

Anyway, Frequency Tattoo Company is a fairly new shop. John Howie opened its doors back in March of this year. He said that he opened the shop with one goal in mind: “To offer custom tattoos of the highest quality at a fair price.” Even more than that, John told us that he wanted to open a place that provided an environment where anyone could feel comfortable. Well, as far as feeling comfortable goes, I think he’s nailed that. You can’t feel any more comfortable in a tattoo shop.

According to his bio, John has been tattooing for over a decade. He has a degree in Fine Art and has been a working artist for about 20 years, but his mediums didn’t only include skin art. They included mural arts, graphic design, fine art, and illustration. His work has been showcased in various galleries and venues, including a solo show at Apple Jacks Gallery in Philadelphia. John says that including himself, there are two experienced full-time artists at Frequency who will take the time to design a tattoo just for their client. As a shop, the two of them pride themselves on the quality of their work, customer service, and maintaining a safe and clean environment for their clients. And that is what would draw someone like me who might be looking for my next tattoo into their shop.

Joining John Howie at Frequency Tattoo Company is his friend of 20 years, David McCall, whom he met at college in a drawing class. Through the years they remained friends and when both learned how to tattoo, they decided it was time to work together. John says that the shop will also host guest artists from exotic places every now and then. He also made sure to point out that the shop was a full service custom tattoo studio with no “books or flash art” tattoos to choose from that hundreds of others have also chosen. I asked if an appointment was needed to be tattooed and he told us that walk-ins are always welcomed, but appointments are preferred so they can lock in some time with their clients.

As far as cleanliness of the shop, I really didn’t need to ask John. You can look around and see that this place was spotless. The needles came out of brand new packaging and were disposed of after they were used. It’s something that you want to see in all shops. The vibe was really cool in this shop and I wished that I really had the time to sit in one of their chairs for some ink. Frequency Tattoo Company is definitely a shop that I would consider for future work.

Frequency Tattoo Company is located at 4038 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, PA in the Manayunk area. They are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., unlike most shops who have one day where they’re closed. The shop follows all age rules and regulations and will not tattoo minors. If you’re in the Manayunk area and would like to check Frequency Tattoo Company out for your next tattoo, call them to make an appointment at (267) 331-8804 or check them out on Facebook by visiting

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 Enjoy your holidays and let’s see what 2015 has in store for me when it comes to Inked Out!