Getting a tattoo is a unique experience you will never forget! Each time you get ink, it can exciting, and leave you with something you will love and enjoy forever. A question that new and seasoned tattoo lovers ask is How Can I Find A Good Tattoo Shop??

Tattoo Artist Drawing

Tattoos have come a long way since the very first shops opened. Research has been done, safer ink has been created, and health and safety protocols have been put into place. This is all fantastic, but it doesn’t mean that every shop follows the rules and provides a good quality service. If you want to get a tattoo, the most important thing is finding a good shop and a good artist.

How do you find a good tattoo shop?  The best way to find a tattoo shop is to do your research online, among friends, and meeting different artists in person for consultations. As you go through this process, you will find someone that meets your expectations.

With the age of the internet, you can look up reviews and find shops that are reputable and professional. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and see for yourself that they are following health and safety regulations.

Finding the Right Shop

Unfortunately, there are a lot of shops out there that take shortcuts to save money or simply out of laziness. It is important to do extensive research into both the shop and artist you want to use for your tattoo.  There are steps you can take to ensure that you are using the best shops and artists for your tattoo. It is not worth the risk of ending up with infections and low-quality work because you didn’t do your research.

Begin Your Search Online

Start by finding the shops in your area. If there aren’t many where you live, it may be worth traveling a little to find the right place. Once you have identified some shops, have a look at their websites. You should be able to browse artist portfolios to get a sense of the quality they offer. Many shops websites have an FAQ section you can look at to gain some information.

tattoo shop search

You can also look outside of their website to learn about others’ experiences at each shop. Google and Facebook are usually a good place to go for reviews and ratings. This will give you an idea of the kind of service they provide. No shop will be perfect, but if there are a concerning amount of negative reviews, buyer beware!! If the reviews are mixed but you want to see for yourself, it may still be worth adding them to your list.

If you have any family or friends who have tattoos, it may be worth asking them as well. They can tell you about their experiences first-hand. If they had a good experience, you can get in contact with the artist for more information. It is also valuable to hear about the bad experiences and learn who to avoid.

If you don’t personally know anyone with tattoos, you can consider sending a message on social media to others in your area who associate with local shops.

Do Some In-Person Investigation

Once you have narrowed down your search and found a few potential shops, take some time and visit each one. You generally won’t need an appointment to simply walk in and have a look around. If you plan to sit down with an artist to chat, call in advance! You should be able to get a feel for their level of professionalism and cleanliness within the first few minutes. If the place is at all dirty, cluttered, or unwelcoming, that is your cue to leave.  If you are interested in learning more, there will likely be a receptionist that can answer some of your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions! A good shop will be happy to answer them for you. They will want you to be happy and comfortable should you decide to get a tattoo from them. They should be able to provide proof of a health and safety inspection.

In addition to asking your questions about their regulations, pay attention to their process. All artists should be wearing gloves while they work. The artists’ entire work area should be clean and organized. Surfaces should be wiped down and disinfected between each client. Inks and pots should be new each time, and all needles should be single use and come from a sterile package.

Look at the Artists

Before committing to a shop, make sure the artists there do quality work. A tattoo that is done professionally will minimize the risks to your health and satisfaction. The shop should have portfolios available for each of their artists, either online, in person at the shop, or both. Take the time to look through them and make sure you are happy with what you see. It is also important to consider the style of tattoo you are getting and confirm that the shop has an artist there who is competent in that style.

Once you are happy with the quality of the available artists and have chosen one that is right for you, the next step is to book a consultation and make sure that you are able to get along with the artist. The consultation will be your opportunity to ask any questions and voice any concerns you have about the design itself. This is going on your body permanently, and it is important that you are 100 percent satisfied with how it is going to look. You should go into the consultation with an open mind as the artist is the expert and will be able to make knowledgeable and educated suggestions, but they should not try to force anything on you that you do not like or are not comfortable with. If you have a bad feeling about a particular artist, it is never too late to walk away.

Look for Awards

One sure-fire way to ensure you have chosen a good shop and a high-quality artist is to look at any awards they may have won. Tattoo conventions are common and frequent, and there will often be awards that are given out. If your artist has won awards from reputable conventions, then you can be confident that they know what they are doing, as the competition at a good convention will be very stiff.

Many areas have public awards for shops and artists. If an artist has won one of these, this is not only a good reflection of their skill, but it shows a high number of happy customers – a tattoo artist does not become popular for bad tattoos!

Wrapping Up

Never go into a tattoo unless you are perfectly comfortable. The art of how to find a good tattoo shop is not always perfectly cut and dry. Finding a good safe shop, and artist can take some time. Quality shops should be able to answer your questions happily and with confidence. Don’t be afraid to leave if you begin to feel at all uncomfortable. Even if you have already made an appointment or are in the middle of a consultation, you are not under any obligation to stay or continue. Put in the work to find a reputable shop and a good artist, and you will leave with a great tattoo and a memorable experience.

Will an Artist Refuse a Tattoo Request?

Yes, there are many instances where an artist may refuse to do your tattoo. If your desired tattoo is in any way hateful, racist, and/or gang-related they will probably refuse. They may also refuse if you are trying to copy someone else’s tattoo, or if they suspect you may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Many tattoo shops also have policies against tattooing hands, feet, and faces. If this is what you want, you may have to search a little harder. Hands and faces are highly visible areas of the body and will be difficult or sometimes impossible to hide– this is why many artists will refuse them as it can cause professional dilemmas for the client down the road. Feet are an extremely difficult area to tattoo.

Do All Tattoo Artists Cost the Same?

The price or quality of a tattoo is not always equal. The more experience an artist has, the more expensive they will usually be. If an artist is extremely reputable and well known, they will likely be expensive. If they are good, their time is in high demand. Many artists will charge by the hour, but some shops will charge a flat rate.

If you are looking to keep costs down and your tattoo isn’t terribly complicated, it may be worth considering an apprentice to do the job. They are usually a little bit cheaper, at around $100-$120 per hour. If your tattoo is large, complex, and highly detailed, you likely want someone with many years of experience under their belt. These artists will usually be upwards of $150 per hour, but they are well worth it. The cost may be scary at first, but you don’t want to cheap out on something you are going to be living with forever.