Can I get tattooed overseas?

Tattoo FAQ, Tattoo Tourism

/By

Kieran

You can get tattooed while overseas. Getting tattooed while on holidays abroad is actually quite common.

The notion of getting tattooed while overseas has spawned its own term. And people who do get tattooed while on holidays are often said to have engaged in ‘tattoo tourism‘.

I’ve had large tattoo pieces designed and completed in a number of countries. Both of my tattoo sleeves and most of my upper body was done in Latin America and Europe. Peru and Germany to be specific.

In fact most of my tattoos have been completed while I’ve been overseas. Yet I’d point out that while I’ve been heavily tattooed overseas and would tell every youngster ‘sure, go get tattooed overseas’. There are a few caveats and warnings I’d issue.

You can get tattooed overseas. But the main and most correct question you should be asking yourself is ‘should’ you get tattooed overseas.

Too many people think about the price first. And way down in their thought process comes quality and safety. But quality and safety should be first and second. Price should be their last consideration. 

Should you get tattooed overseas?

You should only get tattooed overseas if you have given the design and placement of the tattoo the same amount of thought and consideration that you would when getting a tattoo in your home country.

And only if the selected artist is capable of producing the quality of work you expect. While the shop must employ all relevant hygiene standards.

The last thing you want is to get a crap tattoo with a poorly drawn design. Or worse still a blood borne illness or infection.

You should be asking yourself if you are sure the artist is capable, the shop is clean and if the design is something you really want to live with.

Tattoos are permanent. And a poor quality tattoo lasts just as long as a good quality tattoo.

Do you want to be continually covering a terrible tattoo design?

Reddit has an entire thread dedicated to poor quality tattoos. Or tattoos people got abroad only to realize that their artists, whose second or third language is English has misinterpreted, misunderstood or misspelt their tattoo.

But you’d have ‘no ragrets’ because the price is cheap, right?

That’s not to say that all cheap tattoos are bad. There are distinct price differentials at play when you get tattooed abroad. And not all are to do with the quality of the artist.

Getting tattooed overseas is often cheaper

Most of the price differences are to do with the strength of the dollar and the weakness of the peso, ruble or whatever other currency is being used in the country you want to get a tattoo in.

You can get tattoos overseas that are cheap by American standards. And they aren’t necessarily poor quality. Provided the artist is capable and the shop conforms to all the necessary hygiene practices, you can get a cheap tattoo overseas that is excellent quality.

So, how do you ensure that the artist is quality and the store is clean? And what should you look for when deciding on whether or not to get a tattoo overseas?

Checking out a store and artist are easy. Let’s start with the store. 

How do I determine if a tattoo shop is clean and reputable?

Start by checking the online reviews for the shop in which you are considering getting a tattoo. If the reviews are good then go to the store and talk to the artists.

When at the store look around and see that the store is visibly clean. And that the artists are using disposable needless and that the store has a functioning autoclave.

The stores I use abroad are treated like places of work. They are meticulously clean and frequently smell of disinfectant.

All the artists use disposable needles and everything else is put through an autoclave machine (thing that looks like a microwave and uses high temperature steam to kill germs).

All surfaces and work areas while tattooing are covered in disposable single use materials. 

How do I determine if a tattoo artist is good? 

Examine the tattoo artists online portfolio and reviews. It’s hard to find an artist these days that doesn’t have a social media account showcasing their work. Have a look at the tattoos they’ve done and if they are a similar style to the work you want.

If you’re happy with the work you’ve seen from an artists. And all of their previous customers are happy and that artist works in a store that you’re sure is clean, then you might be onto a winner.

Talk to the artists and show them the design you want or explain the design that you want them to create for you. Just don’t pick something off the wall. Noobs do that and usually regret it.

If the tattoo artist tells you they can do it and it’s a style they’re comfortable with, then book in and get the tattoo. At that point it doesn’t matter if they’re overseas and the exchange rate makes their work cheaper than a tattoo artist in your home country.

Always listen to the tattoo artists advice

You’re sure the store is clean and are confident in the artists ability. Book in and get the tattoo even if it’s cheaper. But always listen to the tattooist’s advice during the process.

If you have done the right thing and sough out a good tattooist working for a clean and reputable shop then you should follow their advice.

If they say don’t get a tattoo in a particular position or make the piece larger or smaller. Or whatever advice they may give you, follow that advice.

A good tattooist working in a reputable shop looks at tattoos, draws designs and tattoos for hours on end each and everyday.

They absolutely know what they’re talking about when it comes to tattoos. Follow their tattoo advice as they are experts on tattoos. 

There is one further caveat to put on getting tattooed abroad

You need be careful around areas that have a lot of tourists. Tattooists in some countries will be in a higher density in the locations that have the most tourists.

Lesser quality tattooists will set up shops in places where there is a large transient tourist population.

Because this is where they can tattoo someone and count on that person moving onwards to a different country before the person realizes they have a crappy tattoo or before an infection sets in.

But if you have followed the advice above you should be fine. Provided that the store’s hygiene and reputation is good and the artist is capable, you are generally fine to get tattooed.

Just let the artists know they should make suggestions on the tattoo design and placement.

Some very good artists frequent these same areas with lots of tourists. But because the tourists pay more than locals in these areas they are less inclined to tell a tourist if they’re making a mistake or have a bad placement or design.

Make sure you do make it clear to the artist that they should speak up.

Once the tattooist knows they should provide advice to ensure the tattoo looks as good on you as it does on paper or in your head, you’re golden.

Follow the tattooists advice, get tattooed and if you save money over US prices, it’s a win for you. 

Image credit: inlovelyblue.com