- A visit that begins with unfriendly energy can sour the experience of getting a tattoo.
- As with any other business, a tattoo parlour's cleanliness is a reflection of its quality, according to tattoo artist Kelly Kapowski.
- Viewing an artist's work before getting anything done is essential to making sure your final tattoo turns out just the way you want it to.
- Tattoo artists should be able to address any questions or concerns you might have both before and after you receive your tattoo.
- Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.
After you've finally committed to a tattoo design, finding a high-quality shop and a trustworthy artist can be a daunting task. Luckily, there are a number of red flags to watch for that should help you avoid any negative experiences on the way to your new ink.
Kelly Kapowski, a tattoo artist at Ascension in North Carolina, has been in the industry for five years. According to her, some of the most important things to look out for when searching for a new parlour and artist can be perceived almost instantly.
Some things, like a shop's cleanliness, are standard observations. But other, less obvious factors, like the shop's atmosphere, can be just as important.
Check in with your gut feelings
A visit to a tattoo parlour should feel like a positive experience from the moment you walk through the front door, according to Kapowski. "When walking into a shop, make sure you are in a friendly atmosphere," she said. "You don't want to have someone ignore you or be rude to you."
A visit that begins with unfriendly energy can sour the experience of getting a tattoo - especially for those first-timers who may need a welcoming atmosphere and hospital artists in order to feel at ease.
If you immediately feel uncomfortable inside the parlour or around employees, the shop may not be the best choice.
Cleanliness is key
As with any other business, a tattoo parlour's cleanliness is a reflection of its quality, according to Kapowski."You don't want to walk into a shop that is filthy," she says. "Make sure there's no trash laying around - especially around the stations. That can cause cross-contamination during the tattooing process."
The needles used to etch tattoos into the skin should be immediately disposed of after use in order to avoid any potential cross-contamination between clients. Because tattoos often bleed after completion, having a clean shop and sanitised equipment is essential to the health of customers.
View an artist's work before getting work done
Viewing an artist's work before getting anything done is essential to making sure your final tattoo turns out just the way you want it to.
"Get an idea of what they like to do to make sure it's a perfect fit for you," Kapowski said. "You can also see portfolios online now so it makes it easier for you to keep on seeing newer designs."
Taking a moment to confirm that the artist's previous work is of high quality can help you avoid a bad tattoo that will last a lifetime.
Be wary of artists who don't provide aftercare instructions
Tattoo artists should be able to address any questions or concerns you might have both before and after you receive your tattoo. "You want to make sure you get aftercare instructions and walk through the process of taking care of your new tattoo," Kapowski says.
Failure to take care of a new tattoo can lead to infection - and in fact, aftercare is so important that several American states have laws mandating that artists educate their clients.
If you feel confused about how to take care of your new ink before you get it, it's probably best to go elsewhere.
Avoid artists who pressure you
At the end of the day, your tattoo should be a reflection of who you are - not who an artist believes you should be. Should an artist attempt to pressure you into receiving or altering a design, they are likely not the best choice for you.
"Make sure you are not being pressured into getting a tattoo you don't want," Kapowski said. "It will be on you for the rest of your life."
See also: These are the big trends in tattoos in SA right now – even if one is straight from the 1990s
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