Tattoo Etiquette: Tips for Your First Tattoo Shop Experience

Some people have an artist they trust and go to for every tattoo, big or small. Other people might seek a variety of artists for a variety of tattoos. There’s kind of an unspoken code between artist and client, and for each artist, rules may vary. Clients, especially to tattoo newbies, might not know exactly how to act or things to avoid, so here’s a little online guide to studio etiquette.

The Price is Right

There are some places when haggling (or negotiating price) is acceptable like flea markets, garage sales, pawnshops...but in the tattoo studio. The last thing an artist wants is someone questioning their fee. The fee will depend on the artist, the tattoo, and the amount of time. And remember, you don't want your fresh ink treated like it's coming from a second-hand store anyway, right?

Photo by: Allef Vinicius
Be Prepared
Depending on where you get your tattoo, you might be in a bit of an uncomfortable position; take a minute to stretch. Make sure you eat, even if you’re nervous! Most importantly, stay hydrated. If you need to take a little break don’t hesitate to let your artist know.

Photo by: Annie Spratt

Don’t dress to impress, dress for the occasion
Loose-fitting clothes are the best option for getting inked, this makes it easier to tattoo the selected area. Also, keep in mind you might have to move or sit a certain way so tight jeans are not your friend in this scenario. Think of lounge clothes you wear at home, this is what you should wear.

Photo by: Frankie cordoba

Leave your squad at home
Your artist will understand if you need moral support, bring your mom or sister or one friend; that’s accepted if you feel you absolutely need someone. However, bringing in a whole group of friends can be distracting and inconsiderate to the artist who is working on your tattoo and other artists that are trying to focus. This particularly refers to bringing in a drunk group of friends, most studios are laid back but they are still a place of business.

Photo by: Lucas Lenzi

A matter of time
Job interviews, work, doctor appointments...these are a few examples of things you shouldn’t and most likely wouldn’t be late for. When you have an appointment at a tattoo studio it’s best to show up a smidge early or right on time. Tattooing takes time and making your artist wait is going to waste your time and theirs. Traffic happens, they understand that - so if you are running late communicate that right away. If you can’t make it to your appointment at all don’t bail without calling, tattooers are typically laid back but that would frustrate anyone. Your tattoo artist might have to reschedule you if you are late, keep your communication open.

Photo by: Garin Chadwick

Aftercare, aftercare, aftercare!
Your artist can (and most likely will) recommend an aftercare product for you, but once you leave the studio it’s your responsibility to take care of your new piece. Pay attention to aftercare instructions you’re given and follow exactly, don’t make the same mistake they did in Gremlins.
To wrap it up
Getting a tattoo can be exciting and you might just find your new go-to tattoo artist! Just remember to have mutual respect, ask questions, and relax.

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