Ten top tips on finding a good tattooist.
1, Word of mouth
If you see someone with a good tattoo, ask him or her who did it and go there! On the flip side if you see a bad tattoo, ask politely where it was done and avoid there!
2, Are the premises licensed?
All tattoo premises must be licensed with a local health authority. The license certificate must be displayed in full view. All mobile/home tattooing is illegal.
3, Are you over 18?
Under the 1979 (Northern Ireland)Tattooing of Minors Act, you must be over 18 years old to get a tattoo. No parental consent or exceptions are allowed.
4, How experienced is your Tattooist?
Don't be afraid to ask your potential tattooer "How long have you been tattooing?" and not "How long have you worked here?" because experience as a receptionist or cleaner at that shop won't mean your tattoo will turn out nice! Its good to see their portfolio/on-line gallery or ask if you can watch them at work.
5, Is the artist/studio clean and hygienic looking?
Because of the nature of tattooing it is important that your artist has good personal hygiene and the shop is clean and tidy. If either doesn't look clean, then chances are its not and that could put you at risk of infections. You wouldn't stand for it from other industries so don't when it comes to your tattoo.
6, Are they wearing disposable gloves?
All tattooers should wear disposable gloves while tattooing but they should also wear them when they set up their machines in front of you and when they are disposing of used equipment after your tattoo. During your tattoo they should not touch other things unrelated to the tattoo process with their gloves on, eg phone, radio, food, drinks etc.
7, Do you feel comfortable with the artist?
If they are rude, offensive, aggressive, pushy, inappropriate or just plain weird you don't have to be tattooed by them. By giving them your money you are saying that you are ok with this type of behavior.
8. Is the equipment sterilized before it gets to you?
Needles and grips (the bit the tattooer holds) should be opened out of a sterile bag in front of you. Some tattooist will set up a machine in advance, not use it and then leave it on the worktop or in a drawer for the next client. This means that it is no longer 'clean' and shouldn't be used on you.
9, Where do the needles go after use?
Immediately after your tattoo the needles should be put into a clinical waste sharps bin. This is a hard yellow plastic container that is professionally incinerated. It is dangerous to walk around a studio with dirty needles.
10, Who cares?
Your tattooer should still care about you after you have paid them. They should advise you on correct aftercare and provide you with written instructions with what to do when you take your new tattoo home. Your tattooer should guarantee their work and if you have any problems or questions you should be able to go back and see them for advice.