You’ve decided to get your first tattoo, or maybe you’ve relocated and are looking for an artist near your new home, or you are looking for a new tattooist in your hometown, it doesn’t matter. The steps to choosing the perfect artist for your new piece are the same.
Of course you could just drop into that shop you’ve driven past a million times and pick something from their designs, so long as you make sure they are sterile and safe. There’s a chance you’ll even love your new tattoo.
But with a little more planning, you’ll not only avoid playing artist roulette, you’ll find the tattoo artist of your dreams. One whose work you will never regret.
Ask for Recommendations
If you have friends, family or coworkers with tattoos that you like, ask them for the name of the artist, and if anyone is planning an upcoming appointment, seize the opportunity to tag along. You can also use social media to ask groups of people for recommendations in your area, for artists and reputable shops. Referrals from people whose tattoos you haven’t seen can make a good short list of shops to look into but please, do further research. Your cousin’s artist might be a great guy but you’ll want to see his work, and his workplace, before you commit.
Research Online and on Social Media
To better serve potential clients looking for an artist, most reputable tattooists and shops have digital portfolios. This may be a website with galleries of pictures or an Instagram account of a talented artist. Search ‘tattoo artists your city’ and ‘tattoo shops your city’ to find these portfolios using Google and within social media platforms.
Read Reviews and Comments
While you’re looking over potentials, make sure to read any comments or testimonials on their website. As you narrow your list, you can also look up outside reviews of those you’re still considering for any potential red flags.
Consider Your Needs and Style
You’ll have an easier time finding the perfect artist if you’ve identified your needs. Ask yourself, will you need to meet with your artist to design your piece weeks in advance? If your design is simple, would walk-in hours work for you?
Most experienced tattoo artists have mastered a number of different styles. If you’re looking for a specific type of tattoo, you’ll want to find an artist that is gifted in that style while versatile and able to execute all of your potential future pieces, regardless of style.
If you plan to get more tattoos in the future (a good likelihood since 69% of those who have tattoos, have more than one) a long-term relationship with a multi-talented artist who can serve all of your needs will save you from having to artist-shop over and over.
Visit Shops and Meet With Potential Artists
Once your list is narrowed down to a handful, it’s time to start visiting shops and meeting with potential artists. We highly recommend calling ahead to set up a consultation to discuss your piece. These consultations are usually free. If you choose to drop in unannounced, you’ll be able to get a feel for the shop but the artist you’re interested in might not be there or could be working with another client and won’t be able to discuss your tattoo. Better to call ahead so your visit isn’t a wasted effort.
Is it a Clean and Sterile Environment?
So you’ve got your shortlist of potential artists and have decided to meet to discuss your piece. But before hiring anyone, you’ll want to ensure that they do, in fact, adhere to safe and sterile practices. You can simply ask, but I’ll bet every single one assures you that yes, of course they do.
Instead, there are things you can and should look for.
Signs of a Sterile Tattoo Shop
- An autoclave: It’s an electric sterilization unit that resembles a steel pressure cooker. You can also ask to see the certificate that shows the unit is regularly tested.
- New needles being removed from sterile packaging before each tattoo
- Sharps containers for the disposal of needles
- Disposables in general, from needles to throw away ink cups
- A state license
- General cleanliness
Those of you looking for a long-term relationship with one shop may also want to consider the atmosphere and character of the space. Do you enjoy the witty banter and laid back feel? Is the atmosphere relaxed and comfortable with plenty of individual attention or is it a high-traffic shop with people running in and out, loud music, and a lack of privacy? Depending on your preference, these are things to consider.
Once you’ve finally met with an artist, are confident in their ability, and have observed a safe and sterile workspace, congratulations! You’ve found your tattooist, whether it’s for a single design or continuously. Because let’s face it, once you have one, there’s a sixty-nine percent chance you’ll want another.
If you’re in the Austin area and on the hunt for a new tattoo artist or shop, Arthouse would love to be included in your list of potentials! Of course you should still follow these steps, so click over and take a look at our portfolio and when you’re ready, give us a shout.