- A visit that begins with unfriendly energy can sour the experience of getting a tattoo.
- A tattoo parlor’s cleanliness is often a reflection of its quality.
- Artists should be able to address questions or concerns you have before and after you get a tattoo.
After you’ve finally committed to a tattoo design, finding a high-quality shop and a trustworthy artist can be a daunting task.
Luckily, Kelly Kapowski, a tattoo artist at Ascension in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who has been in the industry for over six years told Insider that some artist and parlor red flags can be spotted almost instantly.
Check in with your gut feelings
A visit to a tattoo parlor should feel like a positive experience from the moment you walk through the front door, according to Kapowski.
“When walking into a shop, make sure you are in a friendly atmosphere,” she said. “You don’t want to have someone ignore you or be rude to you.”
A visit that begins with unfriendly energy can sour the experience of getting a tattoo – especially for first-timers who may need a welcoming atmosphere to feel at ease.
If you immediately feel uncomfortable inside the parlor or around employees, the shop may not be the best choice.
Cleanliness is a major key
As with any other business, a tattoo parlor’s cleanliness is a reflection of its quality, according to Kapowski.
“You don’t want to walk into a shop that is filthy,” she told Insider. “Make sure there’s no trash laying around – especially around the stations. That can cause cross-contamination during the tattooing process.”
The needles used to etch tattoos into the skin should be immediately disposed of after use in order to avoid any potential cross-contamination between clients. Since tattoos often bleed after completion, having a clean shop and sanitized equipment is essential to the health of customers.
If you’ve never viewed the artist’s work, you could be in for a surprise
Always look at an artist’s portfolio first to confirm their work is high quality and vibes with the style of ink you’re looking to get.
“Get an idea of what they like to do to make sure it’s a perfect fit for you,” Kapowski said. “You can also see portfolios online now so it makes it easier for you to keep on seeing newer designs.”
Be wary of artists who don’t provide aftercare instructions
Tattoo artists should be able to address any questions or concerns you might have both before and after you receive your tattoo.
“You want to make sure you get aftercare instructions and walk through the process of taking care of your new tattoo,” Kapowski told Insider.
Failure to take care of a new tattoo can lead to infection – and aftercare is so important that several states have laws mandating that artists educate their clients.
If you feel confused about how to take care of your new ink before you even get it, it’s probably best to go elsewhere.
Avoid artists who pressure you
At the end of the day, your tattoo should be a reflection of who you are – not who an artist believes you should be.
Should an artist attempt to pressure you into receiving or altering a design, they are likely not the best choice for you.
“Make sure you are not being pressured into getting a tattoo you don’t want,” Kapowski said. “It will be on you for the rest of your life.”