Big Red Flags To Look For When Finding A New Tattoo Artist

Tattoos are no longer considered the taboo body alteration they once were. In the past, people covered in tattoos may have been viewed as lazy, dishonest, and even threatening, but those days seem behind us as society continues moving in a more accepting direction (via Advertiser-Tribune). As tattoos become more mainstream, the body art industry is growing, and the high demand brings with it an increase in tattoo parlors and emerging artists (via Byrdie). 

Tattoo artists and parlors do need to follow specific guidelines, as all businesses do, but for an industry that uses needles and deals with blood, the guidelines can be a matter of life and death. When choosing your artist and parlor, there are some things you should consider before getting inked up.

There are different legal standards for each state. For example, Arizona requires no license or apprentice hours to be a tattoo artist, while California requires the artist to complete a bloodborne pathogens course and obtain a certificate of a Hepatitis B vaccination (via Inked Mind). Make sure you are aware of the tattoo laws of the state in which you want to get inked; this way, when choosing an artist, you can check for their certificates and licenses. 

A tattoo artist should be professional and experienced

It may sound cliché, but trust your gut when choosing your tattoo artist. Above all else, the professional should make you feel at ease, and while bedside manner does not equate to talent, a rude person who is rushing you through a consult is probably not the person you want sticking needles in your body. Professionals who try to pressure you — or worse, don't offer you important information about how to prep for your tat or how to take care of it — should also be avoided (per Insider). Remember, a tattoo is an open wound and can become infected, so after-care is a crucial part of the tattooing process.

Another tip, shared by Slate, might help you avoid disaster: Simply take a look at examples of the artist's work. While seeing the finished design on a human is best, portfolio books can also help determine if they are a true artist or just a tracer, as Kevin "Jack" Allaire, licensed freelance tattoo artist, explained to Slate. Allaire says to look for size, difficulty, and "variety" to get a sense of the artist's experience and talent. 

Cleanliness is key

Tattooing requires needles, and whenever needles are used, blood tends to follow, so choosing an artist who is obsessed with sterilizing, hand washing, glove changing, and cleanliness is exactly what you want to look for in a tattoo professional. Tattoo artist Kelly Kapowski tells Insider that cleanliness is critical. She explains that "You don't want to walk into a shop that is filthy ... Make sure there's no trash laying around — especially around the stations. That can cause cross-contamination during the tattooing process." Blood stains, dirty gloves on counters, used needles not properly disposed of, and an unorganized workstation are red flags to look for when choosing a new tattoo artist.

Finally, if the tattoo artist you are looking into has negative reviews, oddly low pricing, or appears intoxicated, these are details screaming for you to find someone else to permanently alter your body (via Romper). Ask your friends for recommendations, check on-line reviews, visit the parlor before making an appointment, and make sure the artist is up-to-date on required licenses and certificates.