Inked Out: East River Tattoo

After a recent wedding in Brooklyn, my wife and I drove through Greenpoint down by the waterfront, and we happened to drive by a tattoo shop called East River Tattoo on Manhattan Avenue. So, I made a U-turn and headed back to check the shop out, still in our wedding garb.

Now, mind you, I really wasn’t prepared to interview anyone since we were just at a wedding, but I will do my best to describe this visually stunning tattoo shop. So, we walked into a waiting room, but if you look beyond the two glass casings in the middle of the shop, you’ll see a shop that my wife called “modern rustic glam.” That was best way to describe the décor at the East River Tattoo. Also, behind the glass casings was where the magic happened. Tattoo stations were set against each wall in the back room.

As we looked around, we were greeted by the shop’s manager, whose name escapes me for some reason. They told us that the shop was opened back in 2000 by artist Duke Riley. Duke is a veteran in the industry, tattooing since 1993 under the guidance of Steve Williamson from Art Freak Tattoo in Providence, Rhode Island. Riley has even worked in various tattoo shops in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and New Zealand before opening East River Tattoo. When Riley isn’t tattooing, he works in a variety of mediums and his work is exhibited in several museums internationally, including a permanent collection in the Brooklyn Museum.

I asked the shop manager, what would bring a customer, like me, looking for a new tattoo, into their shop? They told me, “The artists of East River Tattoo specialize in high quality custom tattoo designs in many styles‚ but are heavily influenced by maritime folk art and 19th century traditional tattooing often evoking antique nautical charts, wood cuts, engravings and scrimshaw.” When I asked how many artists East River Tattoo had working for them, I was told that including Duke, there were four other artists including Liam Sparkes, Rob Banks, Rachel Hauer and Sue Jeiven—all of whom come with tons of experience and have a vast background in the tattoo industry, as well as the art industry.

The shop itself was pretty immaculate, as it’s sterilized nightly, according to the shop manager. Owner Duke Riley was taking a quick break from his client when he came over to say hi to us. He told us that he ran a tight ship and that he tried to keep a clean and friendly shop. When it comes to walk-ins, he says that they’re always welcome and will be fit in providing there is time for them. Otherwise, he suggests that prospective customers make an appointment. He also suggests a free consultation with one of their artists before any appointment is made. When it comes to tattooing minors, Duke said that he will not tattoo anyone under the age of 18. Thank God!

As Duke went back to his client, I asked the shop manager about the pricing at East River Tattoo, and the prices seemed to be on the average between $200 to $400, depending on the size of the piece and the artist who will be working on the tattoo.

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the décor in this shop and after looking at some of their work, East River Tattoo might be a shop you may want to consider for your next tattoo. If you’re in the Greenpoint waterfront area of Brooklyn, you should stop in and check this shop out. I especially dug the big frail wood piece with the shop name on it when you walk in. East River Tattoo is located at 1047 Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn. The shop is open every day from 12 p.m. till 8 p.m. For more info, you can call the shop at (718) 532-8282 or check them out online at

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