Here at TatAdvisor, we can’t express the importance of picking a good tattoo artist enough! There are so many cases of customers walking into a tattoo parlour on a whim, picking a piece of art out of a book and having it inked onto their body forever without any thought of who was pushing that needle into their skin or what that image will represent in five, ten or fifteen years time.
As much as there are some really good artists out there, there are also some really, really bad ones. Ones who will take your hard earned cash in exchange for a tattoo that will fade / doesn’t look anything like the way you wanted it to / ends up becoming infected. This is not what you want and by asking your artist the right questions, by getting used to them before they put needle to skin, you can relax and lie back, happy in the knowledge that you have hired the best person for the job.
Choosing your first tattoo for many people is often a life changing decision. It’s the one that starts it all – very few people get one tattoo and stick at just one tattoo. Many find that they start with one and before they know it, they’re planning their tenth tattoo and they’re not entirely sure how they got there. In so many cases, clients are picking their second tattoo before they’ve even finished having the first. However, if you pick the wrong tattoo for your first ink or the wrong artist for your project, it won’t come out right. It won’t look right and it won’t feel right. It will put you off getting another tattoo for a long time, if not for life.
By ensuring you’re happy with your artist, and building a relationship up with someone who could end up doing all your ink if you play your cards right, you and your newfound art addiction will lead a very long and happy life together!
Try asking these questions before you hand over your deposit and book that appointment to get a better feel for your artist and the kind of work you can expect from them:
1 – What qualifications do you have?
You may find that you will want to look for different artists for different styles of work. One artist could be fully trained in doing portraits whilst another will spend their entire life doing cartoon-coloured pieces designed with a less formal appeal. Each artist will have their strengths and weaknesses and there’s no point in hiring the wrong kind of artist for your piece.
By asking about qualifications, preferences and skills, you can get a good idea how long this artist has been in business, what kind of work he or she loves to do, and what kind of work they can do for you. You may find that even if this artist isn’t right for this piece, he or she may be just perfect for another.
You don’t know until you ask!
2 – Can I see your portfolio?
There’s no better way to get a good idea for the kind of work you can expect your artist to leave on your body by seeing previous tattoos they have done for past clients. Most tattoo artist will be happy to show you a portfolio of their work and with social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook, there really is no excuse. Most artist and tattoo parlours will have a social media page where they showcase their designs and this is the best place to sneak around and check up on the standards of their work.
3 – What measures do you take to sterilise your equipment?
It’s not a dumb question and it’s definitely one you SHOULD be asking! Just because you can see an autoclave in the background, doesn’t mean the artist or studio is using it. Neither does it mean the machine is operational. You are well within your rights to ask to see documentation of spore testing reports which will help to put your mind at ease about the effectiveness of the units and machinery the studio is using.
4 – What hygiene steps do you take?
Disposing of old ink needles is just as important as using sterilised equipment in the first place. Barrier films should be used alongside latex gloves to keep things nice, clean and sanitary, and anything covered in blood or body fluids should be disposed of in the correct manner once it is finished with. If you see your artist put anything back in the original container, including ointments, water or inks, look for another artist. If the artist doesn’t use a sharps box to get rid of the old needles in the appropriate manner, you should also look for another artist.
5 – Can you tell me bout the aftercare?
Most tattoo artists or parlours will provide you with a sheet or booklet with all the aftercare information you’ll need. You will also find that you’ll sign a disclosure to say that you have read and understood the terms of getting your new tattoo. If you have any questions or wish for the artist to explain anything to you, feel free to ask questions. They would rather you understood the protocol and aftercare rather than screw up your fine new artwork by not looking after it properly.
Getting a tattoo, especially if it is your first, is most definitely a life changing decision and the least you could do to ensure it all turns out as you want it to is pick the right artist. Shop around and look at reviews or word-of-mouth recommendations and if something makes you feel uncomfortable, walk right on out of the salon – you are well within your right!