10 Kinds of Tattoo Artists You Must Avoid


tattoo signSometimes the hardest thing to decide on when getting a tattoo is not just what tattoo to get but who will be doing the actual tattooing. Choosing an artist isn't easy. It's just such an intimate thing ... you really have to click with the person because they are putting something on your body that will be there forever. It's kind of as important as the person who you choose to oh say lose your virginity to or tie the knot with. Granted you may totally forget your first lover, but you will never, ever, not ever ever forget your tattoo because it will always be there. And at the rate people are divorcing, it's even more important than who you marry, too. (Kind of.)

There are many things to consider when deciding on a tattoo artist -- the cleanliness of the shop, how easy the person is to talk to about your design, and in figuring out who should contribute to your half sleeve, I think I should address the things you must avoid.

Avoid at all costs, a tattoo artist ...

1 ... who doesn't know what an autoclave is. The autoclave is a really important way to sterilize the tattoo equipment and prevent diseases from spreading. You can't trust that they person doing the tattooing has only tattooed people who don't have hepatitis or HIV. And no one wants a staph infection. Unless of course you are okay with having sex with strangers without a condom, then maybe you would totally take this risk.

2. ... whose shop just had a flood because the sewage backed up. Look, shizz happens, literally, but a dirty shop for any reason shows that the artists who work there don't care enough about their line of work to make it clean and safe for their customers. Dirty? Don't go.

3. ... who ignores you even when you ask for help at the shop. I've been in tattoo shops where the artists have completely ignored me. I'm a polite person. I get that many shops have people hanging around, asking dumb questions, and then not getting a tattoo. But really, there are no dumb questions, there are only dumb answers. And why ignore a potential client? Plus the person getting tattooed should feel comfortable with the artist they choose. It will be on you for life and the experience is part of that memory.

4. ... who charges $20 for a tattoo. Okay, this is something anyone who gets a tattoo should realize -- often you get what you pay for. Tattoos are expensive because of shop upkeep, sterilizing equipment, time spent drawing or stenciling tattoo, as well as the art of tattooing it on your body. A cheap tattoo could mean a cheap looking and unsafe tattoo.

5. ... who was sleeping when you walked in. No one wants a non-alert person doing something to your body that will be there forever. Maybe buy the artist a coffee first until he or she is awake enough to get started.

6. ... who you want to sleep with. Totally different than the guy who was sleeping. But seriously, if you are just getting a tattoo because you think the guy or girl is hot and you are trying to work your way into his or her pants, it's a bad idea. Most times.

7. ... who "double dips the chips." Tattoo artist Paul Rhodes wrote about the safety of tattoos really well and used that to describe someone who doesn't use new gloves or needles each time. No one likes (or needs) a double dipper when it comes to blood. Ick.

8. ... who won't listen to you when you say you don't like the way the drawing looks. Listen to me: this is YOUR body. Yes, you should take into consideration what the tattoo artists says as far as suggestions on making it look better on your body -- he is an expert (at least he better be), but carefully consider everything because it's your skin, your forever clothes you can never take off unless you pay the ridiculous amount of money it costs to get painful lasers to remove the tattoo.

9. ... who argues with you. Walk away from getting a tattoo from someone you aren't getting along with or somehow slip into an argument with. We can't all get along with everyone, and that's okay, but bad mood tattoo artist and bad mood person getting tattooed could yield you a tattoo that puts you in a bad mood every time you see it.

10. ... whose portfolio you really don't like. Look through the artist's work before you get tattooed. Do you like the styles you see? Do the lines look neat? That is part of what you are buying when you get a tattoo -- that person's art, their talent. Make sure it's in-line with what you want. And make sure you love the sketch they draw for you, too.

Have you had any bad tattoo experiences? Spill it! The good experiences too, of course!


Image via Gamma Man/Flickr



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Mom2D... Mom2Demonz

My favorite tattoo is the one the artist drew while I was trying to describe what I was looking for. He listened and started doodling. I looked down and said YES EXACTLY! I always get positive comments when people see it (it's on my upper back). Unfortunately he left the shop where this was done and no one will tell me if he's working elsewhere. Now I have to try to find another artist for my next one.

linzemae linzemae

I got one on my ankle from a guy who was a complete dick and turned down what I wanted in the first place. Should have listened to my first instinct because I hate my tattoo now

nonmember avatar KatVonDouche

@linzemae - Ha! You should have just gotten one out of the machine at Wal Mart.

heave... heavencarlson

I LOVE my artist and tattoo shop. If you're ever in the San Diego area looking for a tattoo, hit up Jackie Dunn Smith at Flying Panther :)

dixie... dixiechick2

Our local tattoo shop has been business for 20 plus years, the place is so clean, you could eat off the floors! Everyone of the tattoo artists is excellent. Flamin Dons Tattoos.

doll0302 doll0302

@Kat- you are a douche. Tattoos do have deep meaning for many,many people. They can be a way to remember a loved one, a way to recall a cherished time in your life, or a way to remind you that you have come out of a rough time and into better. If you don't like tattoos, don't get one.

phoen... phoenixmom2011

If the tattoo artist is male make sure his girlfriend is not a jelous helicopter. Thankfully my husband was able to do a fabulous cover up.

NBean311 NBean311

Kat... You say we want to look cool and get attention, yet here you are begging for attention by insulting those of us with ink. All of my tattoos are covered by clothing and carry very deep, personal meaning for me.

You can think my tattoos are ugly and tacky all you want, because that's exactly what your ignorant comment made me think of your personality. Quit being a troll.

nacho... nacholibre

Exception....some really great shops run $20 tattoo specials to draw new customers. I've gotten a few freakin' badass, well done tattoos for $20

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