Picking a tattoo shop can be one of the toughest decisions a customer with zero knowledge of what to look for can make. In this post I will guide you and tell you what to look for when choosing your tattoo studio, tattoo artist, and/or body piercer.

Choosing Your Tattoo Shop –

There are alot of misconceptions about tattoo studios. Many of people think that if a tattoo shop is all “decked out” and a fun place they must be good, or if the shop is really busy with customers they must be good.

In my opinion you could not be further from the truth. I have been a professional body piercer for 10 years and have worked at shops all over the globe, and some have been really nice professional shops, but with the good there is always the bad and I have worked in my share of “bogus” tattoo studios that cared more about your money then the work they put out or your health.

So with that in mind I am going to give you a list of things to look for or ask to see so you can make the best judgement possible to insure you’re in a safe establishment.

  1. 1. Ask Around – People talk, all you have to do is ask someone to give you their opinion. Don’t base your decision strictly on that, but use it as a basis for what tattoo studios you will “investigate” first.
  2. Search the internet for tattoo shops in your area – All you need to do is google tattoo shops in your area and check out their websites. Not that this step has any credibility on how good the tattoo studio is its more of a way to get you decided on which studios you would like to check out.

Now that you have your list of tattoo studios we are going to guide you through what to look and ask for. A lot of people might not know that just within the past 2 years Illinois passed laws regulating tattoo studios. Local health departments are the ones that carry out the duties of enforcing the rules. I do believe there are still shops in the state that do not fully comply. So I am going to inform you on how to weed out the good and bad. Also how to report shops that are not complying with state regulations.

  1. First and most important be respectful in a tattoo studio. You can ask all the questions you want but if the person says no then just leave. No need to cause a scene in a studio.
  2. Ask if you can see the spore test log for the studios Illinois states that all tattoo studios must keep a monthly log of their spore test. A spore test is a test that tells us if our Sterilizing Equiptment (or AutoClave) is working properly. Now don’t be fooled some may show you “steam indicator strips” this is not the same thing. Steam indicator strip only tells you if your auto clave reached the proper temperature.
  3. Steam Indicators – These are found on the sterilization pouches themselves or on a strip that is located in the pouch. They normally say “turns black when processed in steam” and ultimately depending on what the color change is you should know if the package has reached proper temperature. Ask your tattoo artist or body piercer to show you the equipment packages and see for yourself. A list of things that should be sterilized are as follows: needles, initial body piercing jewelry, tattoo tubes, any clamps, basically any tools aside from tattoo machines that will be reused or that will break the skin of a client (needles should NEVER be reused) must be properly sterilized.
  4. Ask to see the AutoClave – This is just a good one to check. Just simply ask to make sure they even have one. Every shop should have a steam sterilizer of one kind or another.
  5. Last but not least look around – Take a look around. Check out how the general cleanliness. Check out the bathroom, is it clean? It should be.

Use your best judgement and try and apply a few of my suggestions. It could save you a lot of headaches in the future.

Choosing Your Tattoo Artist And/Or Body Piercer –

Tattoo Artist’s and Body Piercers now this is where it gets hard, so pay attention. As far as illinois is concerned there is not much regulating tattoo artists or body piercers. Mainly just the studio itself and how they run the shop.

Chosing a artist or piercer is where it can get tricky. I am going to try and guide you as best I can in choosing the person to do your modifications.

  1. Look Or Ask To See Portfolios – Seeing a portfolio can really help out in the decision making of picking a piercer or tattoo artist. But be aware people do steal other peoples portfolios, people do edit photos to make them perfect so my general rule of thumb is “never make the portfolio the deciding factor of letting someone work on you.” Take all factors in consideration.
  2. Ask Questions – Talk to the artist or piercer. Ask questions. Any “professional” will answer any concern or question you might have. They should be as helpful aspossible. If they don’t know the answer to a question you might have they will find out for you. A good professional artist or body piercer will have no problem helping you out. Read their body language, if the conversation does not feel comfortable and your getting a bad vibe then get out. Ask how long they have been doing their chosen art. Ask who they learned from or how they learned. I do have on thing to add that I  hear a lot, I am afraid to say people that say they are certified to pierce or tattoo they are full of crap (Most of the time, in some states you do have to be certified, Illinois is NOT one of those states). There is no such thing. Shops are certified, artist and body piercers are not. Unless of course, your artist payed for a certificate he bought out of a tattoo magazine. In which case they are bogus and get out quick.
  3. Ask To Watch – This is my own own personl favorite. I personally do not let anyone work on me unless I feel comfortable with them and their work. The best way for me is to see them actually do their job. Any respectable tattoo artist or piercer will not mind (however, the artist should also ask the client getting worked on if they are comfortable letting a stranger watch).

So for my conclusion, I will leave you with this. Never judge a book from it’s cover, do some research of your own, and trust your gut. If there is one last piece of advice I could give you it would be a old saying I’ve heard from tattoo artists all over the world, I think this applys for both tattoos and body piercings.

“Good tattoos aren’t cheap and cheap tattoos aren’t good.”

Thanks Zuni


Thanks to loltattoos.com for there photo.

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