How to Find a Tattoo Artist

Two Parts:Finding Tattoo ArtistsVetting the Artist

You deserve to set a high bar for people who stick needles into your skin. Finding the right artist isn't just a matter of style and skill; it's also about avoiding needle-transferred infections. Don't rush the decision, and don't hesitate to ask other people with tattoos for advice on local artists.

Part 1
Finding Tattoo Artists

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    Talk to people with tattoos. Ask friends and relatives with tattoos for the name of the artist who did the art you particularly enjoy, or for recommendations in general. Even complete strangers are often happy to talk about their ink.
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    Look through artist portfolios. Visit local tattoo parlors to check out catalogs of their artists' previous work. You can often find their portfolios online as well, curated on blogs or Instagram accounts dedicated to a particular type of tattoo work.
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    Attend tattoo conventions. The best tattoo artists generally attend these conventions. You can have work done here, or just use the opportunity to browse.
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    Avoid the cheapest options. If a deal seems too good to be true, it is. A cheap artist is almost always a bad one.
    • In the United States, you can expect a decent artist to charge between $50 and $300 per hour, depending on skill level.

Part 2
Vetting the Artist

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    Look up the artist and parlor online. Search for the artist's name online, as well as the name of the tattoo parlor she works at. Avoid the place if you find reviews or reports of infections or sub-par health and safety practices.
    • Don't believe the parlor's personal website when it comes to customer testimony.
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    Talk to the artist. The artist you feel most comfortable with generally gives you the best result. Make sure he pays attention and understands what you're going for. He should also be experienced with the style of tattoo you're paying him to do. Many artists specialize either in color or line work, and may have further specialization within those categories.
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    Ask for the paperwork. Always ask to see a blood-borne pathogen course certificate, as well as some sort of license. Check the expiration dates to make sure they're still valid.
    • These are usually displayed in the artist's work area.
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    Look for good safety practices. The following practices provide the highest assurance that the parlor knows what it's doing. Quality artists should never act rude or insulted if you ask them to do the following:
    • The artist should show you the date on the package containing the needles, and open it in front of you. (Even reusable needles are kept in a pouch during the autoclave sterilization process.)
    • Reusable needles and grips should be fresh from the autoclave, which should be visible on request.
    • The shop and artists should be free of dirt and obvious sanitation issues.
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    Listen to your gut. If anything makes you feel uneasy or unsure, leave the parlor. "It's probably nothing" could lead to a nasty skin infection, or even a blood-borne illness such as hepatitis or HIV.

Article Info

Categories: Tattoos and Piercing