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Written by Kieran Proctor

What Is A ‘Scratcher’?



Tattoo Scratcher

Scratcher is the term given to untrained tattooists. Scratchers give poor quality tattoos, that then need to be covered up by professional artists, or removed.

In order to avoid painful tattoo removal processes or expensive coverups, you should always avoid scratchers. Here’s what you need to know about tattoo ‘scratchers’.

Scratchers Will Often Be Cheaper Than Professional Tattooists

Don’t fall for the price. Price should never be a factor when choosing a tattooist and shop. If you can’t afford the tattoo you want, from the artist best skilled to create it, then you should save up for your tattoo.

Getting the right tattoo, from the artist best qualified to produce it, is always cheaper in the long run.

You’ll often meet scratchers at parties, bars or through your friend networks. There’s always someone who tattoos as a hobby, or has a ‘friend of a friend’ who does cheap tattoos. Don’t allow these people to tattoo you.

Professional tattooists hone their craft through formal apprenticeships. They’re trained in everything from hygiene to ink and needle selection. They can simply look at a design and know what tattoo supplies they’ll need and how long it will take to stencil and tattoo.

A scratcher looks at a tattoo design and has no idea. They’re guessing on everything. And they’re operating without experience or training. You won’t get a good tattoo from a scratcher. Even if they are cheaper.

Scratchers Are Unhygienic

Getting a tattoo in somebody’s shed or garage is never a good idea. Professional tattooists take hygiene seriously. They are aware of blood borne illnesses and they’re trained to prevent the spread of these illnesses.

A scratcher is half assed in everything they do. Including hygiene.

I’ve personally seen these guys operate without a care in the world. Tattooing two or more people with the same needles and never wrapping their tools in single use materials. And they didn’t know what an autoclave was, let alone have access to one.

Scratchers are like mobile disease factories. Because they’re ‘cheap’ and untrained, they don’t invest in the proper equipment and disposable products (needles, ink cups, wrapping, paper towels etc.). And they reuse items that should be disposable, in order to save money.

Don’t get a tattoo from a scratcher, unless you want to risk catching a blood borne illness.

If The Tattooist Works From A Garage Or Shed Avoid Them

I would never get a tattoo from someone who doesn’t work from a professional tattoo studio with a good reputation. The reputation of the artist and tattoo studio, is the first thing I check when deciding whether or not to get a tattoo.

If the tattooist or tattoo parlor does not look like it’s entirely above board and professional, I won’t get a tattoo from them. And if I see an artist working out a garage or shed, I do not consider that tattooist to be a professional.

Heck, I’ve even seen a scratcher standing on the side of a dirt highway in Bolivia, giving neck tattoos to multiple people, without ever changing the needle or ink cups, let alone using an autoclave. He was working from what looked like a converted hotdog cart. To me, it just screamed blood borne illness!

While I wont ever contemplate getting a tattoo from a scratcher now, in my younger days, I made the mistake of getting a tattoo from a scratcher. He was working out of a share house kitchen.

It’s the worst tattoo I’ve ever had. And that tattoo did require a coverup from a professional tattoo artist. Which cost me ten (10) times more than it would have, if I’d just gone to the professional tattooist from the start.

I would never again risk getting a tattoo from an untrained scratcher. Not only because the tattoo turned out nothing like the design. But because I now know and understand the risk of infection and illness, that came with his poorly drawn design.

I will always recommend to everyone that they steer clear of scratchers and only get tattoos from professional tattoo artists. Professionals who are properly trained and have good reputations for the work they produce.

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