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Written by Kieran Proctor

How to Choose A Tattoo Studio?

Tattoo

Updated

Whether you select a tattoo studio and then a tattoo artist, or an artist and then a studio, will depend on the style and size of your future tattoo.

Choosing a specific tattooist matters less than the tattoo studio for smaller and less difficult tattoos. But for larger works and those styles that are best completed by individuals with expertise, you should give much more weight to choosing the artist. For larger and more specialized tattoo pieces, the shop is less important than the particular tattoo artist.

And to determine which you should select first, the parlor or the artist, you will need to know what tattoo you want. If you haven’t already read my other articles and you aren’t sure what you want your new tattoo to be, then go back and read those first.

But, if you know what tattoo you want and where you want that tattoo placed on your body, you should continue reading this article.

How to select a tattoo parlor?

Now, the first point to make here is that you are not limited to the tattoo shops in your immediate vicinity. You can travel or go overseas to get a tattoo. Tattoo tourism is actually a thing. And I myself am an experience ‘tattoo tourist‘. Most of my own tattoos have been completed overseas.

The second point to make is that you will need to do a lot of online searches. You will need to see a lot of review sites and online portfolios for tattoo studios, in order to accurately judge a shops reputation.

You should also seriously consider using a VPN throughout your tattoo journey

tattooed hand typing

The main factor in choosing a tattoo shop should always be the tattoo studio’s reputation. 

Shops with bad reputations have likely earned those negative reviews and you would do well to stay away from them. The first sign that a shop is clean and that it has good artists, is its reputation.

Start by looking at a tattoo studios reviews on places like Google Maps, Yelp and Facebook. If a tattoo studio has a lot of high star reviews, it’s likely doing things right. And if its reviews are terrible, you should stay right away from it.

Have a look for each tattoo shop on Instagram. All of the quality stores that are producing quality works have Instagram accounts. On Instagram, these tattoo studios will showcase the tattoos completed by their own artists. But when a tattoo studio doesn’t have an online presence and it doesn’t have social media accounts, that’s a bad sign.

Reputation is the most important factor in choosing a tattoo studio. Because reputation will indicate both cleanliness and the quality of work that the studio’s artists produce.

tattooed man walking down the street

The second most important factor in choosing a tattoo studio is the cleanliness of the store. 

Blood-borne illnesses are real. And the last thing you want is an infection or worse yet, a blood borne illness. If a tattoo studio is well established and if it has a great reputation, that studio will have quality artists and take hygiene very seriously.

If a tattoo parlor has a great reputation, they will want their customers to be happy with their new tattoos. And moreover, they will want their clients to be safe when getting tattooed.

Your safety is a result of store cleanliness. You want to be sure that the store is clean. And that it’s using disposable needles, disposable cups and wraps. And an autoclave for everything else. The shop should have single use materials to wrap surfaces and it should be disinfected after each and every customer.

Often, a good tattoo studio will have an odor similar to a doctor’s surgery. And this is due to the hospital grade disinfectant that’s used on all surfaces.

If you find a tattoo shop to be dark, dingy, looking or smelling unclean and where you can’t be sure they use disposable needles and an autoclave, you should stay right away from it. You’re likely to catch something from that tattoo shop.

I’ve seen some terrible tattoo shops in my day. Everything from up cycled hotdog carts on dirt roads in Bolivia, through to biker run shops with dirty shag pile carpet in Australia.

And when I see these sorts of tattoo shops, I avoid them. Because I don’t want a dose of hepatitis or HIV. And if you see something that makes you question the cleanliness of the store, you should avoid that tattoo studio.

Now, once you’ve found a shop with a great reputation and that you’re sure is clean and hygienic, adhering to all health codes, you can start to look at the individual artists profiles.

And you should have started getting a feel for which artists you like, while searching the store online. So, in the next article, I’ll discuss how you should go about selecting a tattooist.

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