How to Find a Good Tatoo Shop

So… you’ve been thinking it over for weeks now and you’ve decided you’re finally going to take the plunge… gather up your ten closest friends and go get a tatoo. With your cash in hand, and a vague idea of what you want, you open up the yellow pages to find your friendly neighborhood tatoo artist. Much to your surprise, you find not just one or two, but 10 or more shops listed. What now? With the rise in popularity of tatooing, there has been an exponential increase in recent years of new tatoo studios, eager and willing to cash in on the public’s newfound interest in skin art. This has both its advantages and disadvantages. Competition between studios offers you, the customer, more choices than ever. It also helps to force tatooists to keep their rates reasonable. A chief disadvantage, however, is that it’s become increasingly more difficult to find a good tatooist. Before you flip a coin or throw a dart, realize that this is no decision to be taken lightly. With new studios opening on what seems like every corner, it’s become more important than ever to do your homework. There are more tatooists working today than at any other point in history, which, sadly, also means that there are more bad tatooists working than at any other point in history. Here are a few tips on getting a tatoo you can be proud of.

First, and most importantly, think about what you want!!! What do you want your new tatoo to say about you? Do you want it to say anything at all? Where do you want it? Why do you want it? There is an endless supply of ideas out there, just waiting for you to go find them. The Internet, library, comic books, fabric patterns, craft books, etc, can all be excellent sources of design ideas. With the quality of work available today, you’re only limited by your imagination and your budget.

Once you have an idea in mind, it’s time to find a good studio. This is the easy part, though very time consuming. Your friends will most certainly offer their advice, and this is fine, but don’t go on that alone. Take a day to drive from shop to shop, with the intent of not getting a tatoo. When you walk in, go directly to the counter, and ask to see the artist’s portfolio. If they don’t (or won’t) show you one, leave immediately. This is the only way to gauge the ability of the tatooist. Don’t be distracted by the walls full of brightly colored designs or the flashing neon in the windows. Take your time and closely examine the portfolio, looking for crisp, clear photographs of healed tatoos with smooth line work, solid color, no scar tissue, and a style that is pleasing to your eye. Be critical… Remember that artists almost always put their best work in their portfolios, so if what you see is mediocre at best, what you’ll get won’t be much better. Once you’ve decided if the work is of acceptable quality, take a few minutes to look around. Is the shop clean? Well lit? Does it have a good “vibe”? Talk to the staff. Ask about their experience. How did they learn? Where have they worked? Does the artist seem friendly, cooperative, confident, and knowledgeable? If all’s well so far, now you can check out the designs they have on the walls and/or in the books. You never know… you might get some new ideas… but do not get tatooed yet! You have a lot of shops to check out still.

Do the same thing a to the same thing at each shop, being mindful to look at quality, cleanliness, professionalism, and style, and keep a mental note of how each shop rates in comparison to the others. Once you’ve checked out all of the local studios, you can now make an informed decision on where to go to get your tatoo and who you would like to do it.

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