10 Things Not to Do When You Get a Tattoo

10 Things Not to Do When You Get a Tattoo

During the day, I play a tattoo artist on TV. Okay, I really am a tattoo artist (not to be confused with my night job of a ninja assassin), and I love my job. There are certain things about my job that seriously make me want to head home and crawl back into bed, though.

And, it's not just me; I've talked to the guys at the shop -- they have the same pet peeves.

So, I'm going to help y'all out and give you the hook up from an insider source ... me.

Life Tattoo

Image: alwitt via Flickr

10 Things You Should Not Do When Getting a Tattoo

1. Be Drunk or on Pills. Should go without saying, but you wouldn't believe the number of people who do it. And we've heard everything. "It's just pain pills to help because a tattoo hurts so much," or "I'm sober, I swear, I just had a shot to take the edge off of getting this tattoo."

If you don't want your tattoo artist drunk or on pills, then we don't want our customers drunk or on pills. And, while yes, you do bleed slightly more when drunk, the real reason we won't tattoo you while you are intoxicated is because drunk people don't sit still.

And they are loud. And annoying. And have a tendency to not remember things in the morning ... like going to a tattoo shop and getting Tweety Bird on your ass. We don't want to put up with that crap.

2. Have No Idea About the Shop or the Artists. Please do your research before walking into a shop. Most places have websites or Facebook pages (if not, I wouldn't go into it). Research the shop, look at artist's portfolios, and go into the place educated, maybe even with an artist in mind. I have to say, I love the ego boost of "I was hoping to get tattooed by you because I saw your work online and really liked it."

Hehehe, thanks. Flattery gets you places in the tattooing world sometimes. And, sit for a few minutes after you get to a shop and observe.

Does it look clean? Do the artist's portfolios look good and up-to-date? Do the artists themselves look clean and healthy? Does it smell like green soap, a&d ointment and cleaning supplies? If not, then say, "Thank you" and walk out the door.

3. Haggle Pricing. We set our pricing according to how much time it will take us to do the tattoo; just like a lawyer prices, a mechanic, a psychiatrist ... only guess what? We're putting something on your body that will be there forever.

A lawyer's work will one day be done, as will a mechanic's, as will a psychiatrist's, but our masterpiece (or screw-up, if you don't do your research) is a lifelong commitment. So, why price shop?

And, if you go to one shop and they tell you $40, and you go to another shop and they tell you $250, please question why the first shop said $40. The reason is, your tattoo probably comes with free Hepatitis or AIDS. Now that's a truly lifelong commitment, too. Two-for-one deal, huh?

4. Have No Idea What You Want. This, personally, is one of my biggest pet peeves. When I hear, "Well, I want a tattoo, but I don't know what I want," it makes me want to shove the tattoo machine (it's not a "gun," by the way) right into my own jugular.

This is something that will be on your body forever, and you have no idea what you want? Why are you bothering me with this? Please come back when you have a clue.

And, we do work with anything as ideas -- pictures from the internet, stick figure drawings, whatever. Give us an idea, let us create, and we'll be more likely to price you lower and be more into the tattoo (another insider tip I just shared).

5. Expect to Be Tattooed Immediately. Good shops make appointments. And, if the artist is good, your appointment could be two weeks out, maybe a month, maybe three months.

And, they'll require a deposit to hold your appointment. This is all standard of good tattoo shops.

If a shop is that busy, there's a reason why. And, if you aren't even greeted as soon as you walk in the door (by an artist, not a front counter person), believe it or not, that's probably another sign of a good tattoo shop.

Think about it -- if you are approached by an artist as soon as you walk in and smothered, that artist needs your money, which means they don't have appointments. Question why.

If an artist is nonchalant about you (which yes, comes off as being a dick), then they don't need your money, which means they are pretty booked, appointment-wise, which means they are good.


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