What to Look For When Choosing a Tattoo Shop

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Are you interested in getting some new art on your body? Whether you’re covered head to toe and looking for a new tattoo shop, or this is your first tattoo, it can be difficult finding a good tattoo artist in a new place. 

Too many people make the mistake of not researching beforehand. They end up with faded, blurry, and messy tattoos that weren’t worth the cost. 

We want to help you avoid that problem. Finding a great tattoo parlor is easy if you know where to look.

Start writing down your tattoo ideas and finding reference photos and keep reading to learn more. 

Know Your Style

If you have never had a tattoo before, you might not consider how important style is. 

Most tattoo artists have their own preferred styles. Many are capable of doing things outside of their niche, but they’ll excel if you give them a project that’s in their wheelhouse. 

If you’ve noticed that an otherwise great tattoo artist has done some terrible work on someone, it’s probably because it’s not in their preferred style. Remember, tattoo artists are artists first and foremost.

You wouldn’t hire a landscape painter to paint your portrait, right?

A Brief Rundown on Styles 

The most popular style of tattoo is American Traditional. These are tattoos with bright colors and bold black lines. You’ll often see lady heads, anchors, panthers, and other “traditional” designs. 

The reason that these tattoos are so popular is that they hold up well. Bold lines and colors will last a lifetime. They’re also obvious from a distance and there’s a lot of “personal touch” that artists can add. While traditional tattoos may seem generic, many artists are happy to make that old-school flash their own by building upon it. 

Japanese Traditional tattoos are similar. They have often softer colors, but the same bold lines. They resemble Japanese art and commonly feature frogs, tigers, snakes, and geishas. 

Fine line tattoos have been growing in popularity. They’re often done with a single needle and they feature intricate and delicate designs. Many people choose fine-line tattoos for their first tattoos. 

While these tattoos are pretty, fine-line tattoos can blur and blow out. They don’t last as long as bolder tattoo varieties. Make sure that you find a good artist if you’re going in that direction. 

Blackwork is a large category, but it’s as popular as American Traditional. Any tattoo that’s black is blackwork, but blackwork artists tend to focus on bold lines, high-contrast images, and delicate shading with crosshatches or stippled dots. Blackworkers have some crossover with fine-line artists and traditional artists. 

Read Reviews

Once you’ve established the style that you want, it’s time to go on a hunt. Plopping “[style] tattoo shop near me” into Google is a great place to start, but you can also use a beauty directory to get you on the right track. 

Reviews will often pop up before you access the websites, so take advantage of them. While a shop doesn’t need to have 5 stars, it should have more positive reviews than negative ones.

Remember, shops have individual artists, so read the reviews and see if there’s just one artist causing all of the high or low reviews. 

Aside from art quality, you’re reading the reviews to determine the quality of customer service and hygiene. Tattoo artists are all trained in body art hygiene standards, but not all shops are up to par. 

You want to know that artists or counter staff are friendly and attentive, that there’s no pressure in the studio, and that everyone is clean. 

Check Out Websites

Once you’ve seen a few high-star shops in the search engine, check out their individual sites. 

Most artists won’t put their prices online (they price per hour), but they do include their hours, whether or not you need to make an appointment, and all of their contact information. 

You can look at the shop page to see all of the artists available at the shop. There will often be a brief bio, and a portfolio, as well as links to their social media pages. 

Use Social Media

Social media is a lifesaver when it comes to finding body artists for you. Everyone who’s in the body art world uses social media for their public portfolio work. Those who don’t are behind the times. 

The best app to find tattoo artists is Instagram. You can often find artists in the tags for your area. For example, if you’re in Los Angeles, searching for the #LAtattooartist tag will bring up local artists. 

These social media pages are like online versions of the portfolio books that artists keep in their shops. You can see their current work and watch them progress to see if they’re a good fit for the idea that you have in mind. 

Social media also lets you connect with the artist if they’re open to accepting appointments via DM (though not all are. Check first). 

Some artists post about designs that they want to do or special flash days on their social media. Even if you don’t go to a specific artist for your next tattoo, follow them so you can keep them in mind!

Find Your Perfect Tattoo Shop

Finding the right tattoo shop is easy if you know the tricks. Don’t go to a shoddy artist. Even walk-in tattoos can be beautiful when you do your research ahead of time. 

Remember to talk to your artist about what you want and any concerns that you have. A great tattoo shop and artist will make the experience a breeze. 

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