Tattoo Etiquette

There are some basic do’s and don’ts you should know before you step foot into a tattoo shop. Some of these may seem like common sense, but are often overlooked! If you know and follow these rules, you and your artist will get along famously, and you should end up with an awesome tattoo that looks great and means something to you. 

Some Do’s and Don’t’s

 Know What You Want

Before you start looking for a tattoo artist, you should have an idea of what you want, why you want it, and where you want it.

What is important, because your artist won’t be able to read your mind. You’ll need to voice, and preferably also show a concept before he can start designing your tattoo. Be as specific as possible, provide images  you like or actual tattoo photos that inspired your idea if you can. It’s unfair to both you and the artist if you aren’t prepared for the design process.  He will need as much info as possible  to design something that both looks good and is meaningful  and unique to you.

Why you want it is also very important. Sharing  the story behind your tattoo concept is a sure way to make sure the artist shares your vision of the project. This will help him to connect with your ideas and to make sure that your tattoo expresses  the look or mood that  you want it to.

Where you want it also deserves some thought . Tattoo placement is often overlooked. “ I want my hands tattooed” why? “Because I like the way it looks!” That is great ....unless you are a professional working in conservative environment... If that’s you, consider areas that can be easily and comfortably covered up. (Do you really want to wear long sleeves and long pants/skirts all summer?)

Tattoo placement matters in terms of your pain threshold too. If you’re pretty sure you’ll squirm and wiggle under the discomfort of the needles, areas like your ribs, feet and hands are likely out. Meatier areas tend to be a little less sensitive, but even that won’t change the fact that getting a tattoo hurts, plain and simple. Don’t let that scare you away from getting your dream tattoo, though. After the initial shock, you should quickly get to a point where you can tolerate the feeling. If you don’t, you can ask to have a tattoo anesthetic such as a numbing spray applied.

 Choose your Tattoo Artist Wisely

If you walk into an unfamiliar shop and choose an artist without at least first reviewing his or her portfolio, you may walk out with a poorly done  tattoo or worse. Always choose your Tattoo artist based on their portfolio , and not the price tag.  Make sure that you're comfortable in the shop itself, and that it looks and smells clean. ask how many years they have been tattooing or in business, and look at reviews of their shop online. they should be knowledgeable, courteous and welcoming. 

Do Not Haggle Over Price

A tattoo isn’t the same as an item at a flea market where you can sweet talk your way into a bargain or maybe work out a deal. A tattoo is art and art costs money. A good tattoo costs more than a mediocre one. You will get what you pay for, so don’t haggle. Artists usually charge by the hour, sometimes by the project. A complex tattoo that’s really large or contains a lot of detail will take more time and will cost you more. If you have a well-known artist that is in demand their rate will very likely be higher than the guy who can take you next week because he's never busy. 

 Clean Up Before Getting A Tattoo

The day of your tattoo, take a shower, brush your teeth, dress in clean clothes, and be generally hygienic. Your artist is about to be in your personal space for an extended period of time.

Eat & Hydrate Ahead Of Time

There is a degree of shock that usually comes with getting a tattoo, and it’ll hit you much harder if you roll in with an empty stomach. Do yourself and your artist a favor and eat before your appointment. Take a sugary soda in a lidded bottle with you to keep your blood sugar up while your tattoo artist works. Also be sure to hydrate well ahead of time. Increasing your water intake for at least 24+ hours before your appointment will make your skin easier to work with and aid in lessening the impact of the tattooing process on your system.

 Dress Appropriately

Wear comfortable clothing, with suitable access to the area to be tattooed. You may be sitting a while, so comfort is key. there is also a risk of staining your clothes, so its best not to wear your best skinny jeans, or that expensive shirt! An extra layer in case you get cold or hot during the procedure will also come in handy. Oh and loose fitting is always better for any clothing article that will be covering the tattooed area after the procedure.

Don't Drink Or Use Drugs Before Getting Tattooed

Alcohol diminishes your judgment and thins your blood, which means you might make rash decisions and you'd definitely bleed more if you went into a tattoo session intoxicated. Drugs also make you do stupid things that your tattoo artist just doesn’t want to deal with. A true professional will turn you away if you show up under the influence.

 Call In Sick If You Are Sick

No one wants your germs, especially in a communal area like a tattoo shop. If you’re sick, let your tattoo artist know. He would much rather reschedule the appointment than end up with your cold or flu symptoms. We know you've been waiting a while for your appointment to come around, and more than likely took the day off work too, but a bad bug can lay up your artist for days if not longer. 

 Do Not Roll In With Your Posse

It’s super-cool that you’re getting a tattoo. All of your friends will definitely want to see it. Some of them may really want to see it happen, too, but it’s inappropriate for you to roll into a tattoo shop with a group of people unless you’re all getting tattooed around the same time. Go in with no more than one companion in tow. You can go alone, too, but if you want someone to help calm your nerves and keep you company while you’re in a tattoo chair for hours, you can’t assume your artist will fit that bill. Some artists are really chatty while they work, others need to work mostly in silence. Everyone’s different. For me personally, it depends on the complexity of the tattoo, a lot if little detail means I may go for stretches without talking, other than checking in periodically to make sure you are doing OK. This is because I don’t want to break concentration. 

Do Not Bring Your Children

 Tattoo studios are not the safest of places for children, with an abundance of dangerous equipment in reach. Children are well known for their curious tendencies. It's very difficult to watch them if they are wandering off and you are stuck in the chair. they are also a distraction to the Artist who's concentration is paramount during the procedure. Please Do your due diligence and find a babysitter for your baby or toddler on the day of your appointment. an older child may accompany you to see how its done, or for support, but must be respectful of the shop rules.

Do Not Be “That Jerk With The Cell Phone”

While Cell phones are a good distraction for you while getting tattooed,  they can also distract the artist. Lunging out of the seat to catch your falling phone, or answering calls, taking your phone in and out of your pocket while the artist is working is not only frustrating but will result in a less than perfect tattoo. Be respectful and always ask first before using your phone.

 Be Patient

Good art typically takes time. If you’re getting something small and simple, you might be out of there in 30-60 minutes. If you’re getting an intricate side piece, you may need to spend the afternoon—or a couple afternoons—with your artist. Don’t be short with him/her about how long it’s taking or try to rush the process unless you want a cruddy tattoo.

Tipping  Your Tattoo Artist

Wondering how to tip a tattoo artist or if you should tip at all?  Well most artists understand that you are spending a good deal of money already , and do not expect a tip. But if you are able to, it will show your artist that you appreciate his time, and the work that that he has put into making your experience a good one.

 Listen To Your Artist’s Tattoo Aftercare Instructions

Aftercare is an incredibly important part of getting a new tattoo. If you don’t do your part, you’ll potentially ruin your artist’s hard work and your investment.  follow the instructions your artist sends you home with to ensure your tattoo heals perfectly.