How to Pick a Good Tattoo Shop
So how do you pick a good tattoo shop? Yelp reviews? Checking portfolios? Social media? Word of mouth? All of those are good suggestions but they overlook a very important aspect. A shop is often a collective of artists who are independent contractors. This system gives owners a lot of flexibility and hopefully allows talented artists the ability to seek out the very best shops. The flip side to this, however, is that consumers need to become much more savvy and should do some vetting of potential shops and artists before you commit.
In the past it was unheard of and generally frowned upon for a potential client to ask a lot of prying questions about how a shop was run or how artists were vetted by the shop owner. That was not part of the industry and potential clients who got too fussy were generally shown the door. Not anymore. With tattoo shops springing up like mushrooms after heavy rainfall NO shop can afford to put off potential clients by being opaque about their business practices. Bad customer service is bad business and in a such a competitive field NO shop is immune. The first step in how to pick a good tattoo shop starts with YOU – do your research!!
There are many ways for you to check out a shop and see if it is legit. Even though many states require almost nothing in regards to licensing, training etc., savvy customers know to ask a few critical questions to see if the shop is running a tight ship. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! A well run shop will be able to easily answer a few general questions and should not make you feel out-of-place for doing so. Make sure you are not interrupting a working artist – instead call, email, or if you do pop in ask to speak to the receptionist and/or shop manager if they are available. Treat a potential shop with respect and you will likely be treated the same way.
4 Important Questions – How to Pick a Good Tattoo Shop
1. Are they insured? Insurance is not a mandatory thing in most states but it is a strong indication that this is a professionally run shop that takes its clients and business seriously.
2. Blood borne pathogen certificates for working artists. Again – not required everywhere but really a MUST for any shop that is serious about keeping clients (and artists) safe and working clean. If the shop can’t be bothered to require this simple safety precaution from artists then you should ask – why?
3. Proper sanitation and disposal for sharps, medical waste (blood baby blood) and preferably an autoclave (equipment sterilizer) or even better – a completely disposable set up. Asking about the shops’ sanitation practices is a very reasonable question for potential clients to ask. Make sure they have a good answer! Fully disposable is best, followed by autoclave. If the shop doesn’t have that – or worse makes you feel like a chump for asking – RUN AWAY!!
4. Professional demeanor and clean setting. The shop doesn’t have to be sterile but it should be tidy. Artistic clutter is one thing – filmy, dusty, greasy and dirty is another. A good shop should have at least a receptionist who is adept and helpful (but some don’t – so not a deal breaker) or even better – a shop manager. These employees should be knowledgeable, helpful, and professional. Remember – well run shops are successful shops and successful shops attract the best artists. If a shop has bad customer service (or NO customer service) or looks dingy ask yourself – “If this was a restaurant would I eat here?” If the answer is “NO” then why on Earth would you get tattooed here? Keep Looking!
Don’t be intimidated when trying to pick a good tattoo shop. The tattoo industry is chock full of serious artists, business people, and professionals who take their tattoos, their shops, and their clients seriously. Don’t settle for a crappy shop when there are SO MANY shops that are doing it right. Ask reasonable, well thought out questions and if they say/do all the right things – GIVE THEM YOUR BUSINESS!!