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Proper Tattoo Etiquette in a Shop

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

When I was 18 and beyond excited about the prospect of getting my first tattoo, I decided to stop by some shops to have a look around.

Back then, tattoos shops were incredibly intimidating and awkward to me as I was a 5′ Asian girl with braces. The people there looked way too cool, and I thought they might tell me to get out and make fun of me when I run out crying. But they were all very nice and friendly, and made me feel comfortable within minutes.

However, being the ignorant teen that I was, I probably pissed off a lot of people because of my lack of proper tattoo etiquette.

So, in order to prevent any more of you tattoo enthusiasts from being given the stink eye, here are some tips to help you be a better person. 🙂

1) Do your research and know what you want.

Artists can’t read your mind, and won’t have a clue what you want unless you give them some hints during the consultation. Look at tons of pictures online, get inspirations, print pictures out, make diagrams, doesn’t matter. Give the artist some good ideas to work with, so they can take your idea to the next level. Make sure it’s what you want, so that you do not suddenly change your idea the day of the tattoo.

Also, don’t bring in a picture of someone else’ work and expect the artist to copy it- it goes against the artist’s integrity also not fair to the original artist if they do not know you are using their image. If you are set on the exact image, however, please contact the original artist and ask for permission.

2) Have an open mind.

Even though an image you saw or that awesome design in your head looks awesome, it may not always translate well into a tattoo. As your cells are constantly dividing, some colors made fade, and some lines may blend together. Trust your artist when they recommend an alternative, because they are on your side trying to create a custom piece of art that you love and will look great and last for the years to come. If you don’t trust the artist, you shouldn’t be getting a tattoo from them! Just keep talking, and you and your artist will be able to come up with solutions and compromises for your tattoo.

3) Don’t haggle.

Good tattoos aren’t cheap, and cheap tattoos aren’t good. You’re here to have a piece of custom art etched into your skin by a licensed and trained professional. Tattoos are not something that you should try to be frugal on, and haggling down the work of the artist is both rude and dismissive of the artist who has spent years practicing their craft. If you can’t afford a tattoo, it’s better that you don’t get it.

4) Don’t be a dick.

That means that the artists are not your personal slaves to do your every bidding, and change every minuscule detail of their drawing for the 10th time, the day before the appointment.

5) Don’t bring an entourage.

Tattooing a client is very stressful on the artist, and he/she does not need 5 extra people in the room, as it is very distracting. You want your artist to be comfortable in their working environment and focusing on your tattoo which is on your body. Forever. One quiet friend is always very nice, and a nice break in the environment.

6) Personal hygiene/health.

You will be in very close proximity with your artist for long periods of time. Make sure you’re showered, smell good, and not drunk or on narcotics. The artist will not tattoo you if they see you are inebriated or on drugs. Also make sure to eat at least 3 hours before your session as getting tattooed is very stressful on your body, and having a meal beforehand will make getting tattooed easier on you.

If you start feeling nauseous, dizzy, and/or sweaty, tell your artist right away and they will be able to help.

These tips should give you an idea on how to be an excellent client and responsible collector. If you have any opinions on this subject, feel free to let me know!!


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