How to Choose a Tattoo Artist

tattoo artist and woman

Putting forethought into how to choose a tattoo artist is even more important than choosing a tattoo design. Tattoo is a craft that does not require licensing, so it is important that you familiarize yourself with safe tattoo practices. A tattoo artist is going to use a rapidly moving set of needles to inject ink under your skin. You want to find a talented and conscientious tattoo artist. Ask questions; understand what goes into creating that high quality tattoo you desire.

Be an Informed Consumer

Deciding that you are going to get a tattoo is a serious decision; it is a permanent body alteration. It also creates some enjoyable anticipation as you plan for your tattoo. Talk to other people that have tattoos about how to find a tattoo artist. If you like the work they have had done, ask for a referral. Go online and search tattoo websites for information on various artists and tattoo practices. The tattoo magazines will tell you about shows coming to your area, and which shops and artists perform award winning work.

Ethics Count

Bootleg Flash being displayed in a tattoo shop is a red flag. When you are looking at the flash, notice whether or not is has been professionally printed with credit given to the artist. If the flash does not give credit to the artist, it is most likely a copyright violation. An ethical tattoo artist will not steal another artist's work, even for display purposes.

Safety First

Preventing a blood borne infection is a top concern when getting a tattoo. A professional tattoo artist will take hygiene and safety very seriously. When you visit a tattoo shop, take a look around and watch the artist you are considering contracting to do your tattoo. Is he wearing gloves? He should be. The shop should be clean in appearance. All supplies used for your individual tattoo should be in sealed packaging. Needles and ink trays should be opened with you watching. These items should be disposed of after use. Ointments should also be in single use packaging. The shop should be following procedures outlined in OSHA's Standard Precautions regarding blood borne pathogens.

All surfaces should be covered in a moisture barrier such as clear plastic wrap. This will protect the surface from tiny droplets of body fluids contaminating the work area. Moisture barriers should also be disposed of when a tattoo is completed and replaced when beginning the next client.

The shop should also have an autoclave for sterilization. The autoclave is used to sterilize equipment by maintaining a temperature of 246 degrees for half an hour. The shop should have results of its most recent spore test performed on its autoclave. This test should be done at least every two months to insure that it is working properly.

If the tattoo shop is not meeting basic health and safety standards, continue your search for a tattoo artist.

Get Acquainted

Once you are pretty sure that you have found the shop and artist that will do your work, get to know the artist. Ask to see pictures of his work and his available flash gallery. Be sure his artistic style is compatible with your vision of your tattoo. This will ensure he can perform the type of artwork you want. Talk to him about how he became a tattoo artist and what awards or certifications he has received. If you feel comfortable with him, ask when the two of you can get started.

Tips on How to Choose a Tattoo Artist

  • Acquaint yourself with tattoo practices
  • Research the Internet and tattoo magazines
  • Find a couple of tattoo shops and go visit them
  • Ask questions
  • Observe the hygiene and safety practices of the shop
  • Watch this great video about how to choose a tattoo artist
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How to Choose a Tattoo Artist