Anyone who takes a needle, dips it in ink, and inserts that needle into someone’s skin is, by definition, a tattoo artist. Since that general term covers everyone from the guy down the street scratching and scarring people in his basement to top tattoo artists like Paul Booth or Robert Hernandez, it’s hard to get a quality tattoo by just randomly picking a tattoo artist out of the phone book.
If you want a quality tattoo, you can’t decide to get a new tattoo on a random Saturday, visit a tattoo shop and get tattooed that day. Any shop that offers this type of in and out service is usually not of high quality. Good tattoo artists are booked days to weeks in advance and will give you a custom tattoo, not just some off the wall flash that 100 other yuppies have.
Don’t expect to get your new tattoo quickly. Many top artists are booked quite a ways ahead. There is also time required to draw your custom tattoo. Be patient and ask for the earliest possible appointment. Remember the more flexible your schedule is, the more likely you will be to get tattooed sooner.
When selecting a tattoo artist you always want to look at their “books”, or portfolio. Browse their works and ask to see photos of healed tattoos as well as fresh ones to ensure that the colors will hold once healed. Remember, if you don’t like what is in a tattoo artist’s portfolio don’t expect to get a better tattoo than what you see.
Verify that the tattoo artist always wear gloves and cover any chair surfaces with plastic. Ensure that the tattoo artist cleans the chair or arm rest with an antibacterial agent before you sit down for your session.
Ask to watch the tattoo artists work while you are in the shop. Watch him and make sure he is not touching unsterilized surfaces without changing gloves or anything else you deem unsanitary.
Make sure all instruments are sterilized and single use only. Ask questions, lots of them. There is nothing wrong with ensuring you are getting a safe and professional tattoo. It’s your body and it’s up to you to do your homework when getting a permanent tattoo.
The only person responsible for your bad tattoo is YOU!