A quick web search on how to find a tattoo artist or reputable tattoo parlor will yield a lot of Do’s and Don’ts. Getting inked by a professional is a top consideration! Perhaps you don’t know much about the tattoo industry and wonder, “how can I tell if my artist is a professional tattoo artist?” Not to worry, we’ve got your back!
We recommend asking yourself the following:
1. Did you find them on Craigslist?
If so, we recommend a different approach. Ask around. Spot someone with a tattoo you love? Let them know and find out where they had it done. Also, check out your local tattoo shops. A quick visit should provide you with enough information to help you make a decision. Learn about how they sterilize equipment, check out their tattoo artists’ portfolios to find out which tattoo artist has a style that speaks to you, and talk with your prospective artist to establish realistic expectations about your time and money investment.
2. Did you check out their portfolio?
Most (if not all) professional tattoo artists have a portfolio that provides an accurate representation of their work. This portfolio should be a dynamic representation of their work, which ideally includes a variety of styles and work samples with various body placements. Ask your prospective artist if they drew the pieces in their portfolio to ensure that they can, indeed, DRAW! While templates can be used to transfer designs, these don’t always transfer perfectly to the body. Artists MUST be able to draw in order to fix portions, placement distortion, or to just enhance the overall awesomeness of your piece.
3. What is your artist’s training?
Although years of experience can really distinguish an artist, you might find some really amazing “up and coming” newbs. So, what really matters when it comes to tattoo artist training? First, professional artists have completed an apprenticeship under an experienced artist. This ensures that they’ve learned proper technique (to avoid scarring, infection, or ink blowout). BBP (Bloodborne Pathogen) and disease prevention training is also a MUST. This ensures that they take proper precautions to protect your health. They also take precautions to protect their own health. Here’s a few things to expect a professional artist to do to ensure your health:
Wash their hands before setting up the station for your tattoo.
Glove up before they set up their station.
Use appropriate sterilization solutions.
Use industrial sterilizing equipment (such as an autoclave and ultrasonic cleanser); this equipment should be regularly tested for efficacy.
Cleanse your skin with 91% isopropyl alcohol before starting their work on your tattoo.
They utilize a jewelers eye loupe to make sure their needles aren’t barbed.
They offer thorough after-care instructions and, when needed, after-care consultation and touch-ups.
4. How do they dispose of equipment?
Take a look around, do you spot a sharps container. Sharps containers are those red boxes commonly used in doctors offices to dispose of needles. Make sure they’re not just tossing biohazards into the usual trash.
5. How are you treated during the consultation.
Finding a professional artist is also about finding someone you “click” with. Their ego doesn’t take up so much space that you both won’t fit in the booth. Ideally, they’re humble enough to answer your questions, hear your ideas, and offer honest input. Pay attention to your internal reactions, do you feel a connection? Do you feel heard? Are you both on the same page? If you can’t confidently answer yes to those three questions, then wait until you have enough information to feel confident about your choice of artist or continue your search. A great artist will offer you a referral if you don’t think the two of you click. Finally, a truly professional artist wants you to walk away from your time with them feeling great about your experience.
In summary, always opt for a professional artist at a reputable shop. Visiting local shops will help you in your quest to find the best artist to complete your dream tattoo. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to drop in our shop. We love providing information to first-time and experienced tattoo seekers.We also enjoy sharing our artist portfolios, talking about our sterilization processes, consulting about your dream piece, and, when needed, offering referral options. Also, know that you should never feel pressured or obligated to book an appointment; any reputable shop will welcome questions about their training, experience, and sterilization processes.
If you're unhappy with some of your own ink, don't hesitate to consult with another artist. Sometimes it just needs some more ink to compliment the design, other times, a cover-up may be a great option. Any of the tattoo artists at Moscow Tattoo Company can explore these options with you.
Finally, if we haven't convinced you to seek a professional tattoo artist at a reputable tattoo parlor, perhaps the photos of some of some before/after cover-ups might sway you.