Question: "I'm interested in getting a tattoo, where do I start?"
The two best things to do are these: get referrals and visit the shops in your area. Calling on the phone is usually a waste of time because you can’t see the shop or the art that the artists have done. No one can quote you an accurate price on a tattoo without first seeing it.
Do not base your shopping on price. There are no bargain tattoos or piercings - just good ones and bad ones. There is a saying in tattooing that goes – “good work ain’t cheap and cheap work ain’t good”. So focus on quality rather than price.
A tattoo is a luxury item, be prepared to pay for it. Getting the highest quality work in a style you like is more important than getting a deal. No matter how good of a deal you get living with a tattoo you don’t like is a very bad experience. It costs more to cover up and fix bad work, so get it done right the first time.
The Artist should treat you decently and be willing to work with your ideas and show that they are interested in providing you top quality service. They should display samples of their work and be open and honest with you. Real artists can be slightly weird and grumpy: don’t take it personally, but don’t mistake abuse for eccentricity.
The studio should be as clean as possible and reflect the artists’ interest in serving the client. Sterilization equipment should be in view and appear in sound working order. If it isn’t ask to see it.
The staff should be friendly and helpful. Many prospective clients are impressed by a lot of ready to go art on the walls. Usually this art is purchased from outside the studio and often means that the tattooists are not very good artists themselves.
There should be art books and image books to give you ideas but if you have to “pick it off the wall” you might want to keep looking. A good studio will encourage you to get original art. You may bring your own or ask the artist to draw it for you. Most artists have an art fee. It is worth it.
Very few tattoo artists or body piercers have professional training - be sure you pick someone who does and check their work before you let them work on you.