Tattoos are no longer stigmatized like they used to be. Almost 40 percent of millennials are tatted up, it seems like there's a new celebrity tat in the tabloids every day, and tattoo trends proliferate via Instagram.

Because of their general acceptance, we’re recognizing tattoos as an art form more than ever, rather than simply expressions of teenage rebellion, aggression, or shortsightedness. Accordingly, we're perceiving tattoo artists for what they truly are: artists, with each importing their own style into the ink they work with. 

We spoke to some of the most well-known and beloved tattoo artists in New York City—a huge tattoo hub—about the meanings and inspirations behind their designs. Read ahead for the best tattoo artists in NYC.