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Tattoo Etiquette: Dos and Don'ts

Tattoo tips in Colorado

Here are some essential dos and don'ts to keep in mind before, during, and after getting a tattoo.

Do: Research - Finding the Right Artist and Style

One of the most important steps in getting a tattoo is doing your homework. Start by researching different tattoo styles and identifying what appeals to you. Whether it's traditional, realism, watercolor, or another style, understanding what you like will help you find the right artist.

Once you have a style in mind, look for artists who can do that style. Check their portfolios online and read reviews from previous clients. Websites like Instagram can be invaluable for seeing an artist’s latest work and gauging their expertise. Personal recommendations from friends or family who have tattoos can also be very helpful. Finding an artist whose work you admire and who makes you feel comfortable is key to a great tattoo experience.

Don't: Haggle the Price

Tattoos are a form of art, and high-quality work comes at a price. It's important to respect the artist’s pricing. Haggling over the cost of a tattoo can be disrespectful and may give the impression that you do not value the artist's time, skill, and effort. Remember, a tattoo is a permanent addition to your body, and it’s worth investing in a professional who can provide you with a piece of art that you’ll be proud of for a lifetime.

Do: Communicate - Be Honest and Speak Your Needs

Clear communication with your tattoo artist is essential. Be honest about what you want, including the design, placement, and size of your tattoo. If you have any concerns or specific requirements, discuss them with your artist beforehand. A good artist will appreciate your input and work with you to create a design that meets your expectations.

During the tattoo session, if you feel uncomfortable or need a break, don’t hesitate to speak up. Tattoo artists want you to have a positive experience, and clear communication is key to achieving that.

Don't: Micromanage Every Aspect of the Design

While it's important to communicate your ideas and preferences, avoid micromanaging every detail of the design. Trust your artist’s expertise and allow them creative freedom to bring your vision to life. Tattoo artists are professionals with years of experience, and they understand how to create a design that will work well on your skin and age well over time. Micromanaging can stifle their creativity and result in a less impressive final product.

Do: Have Good Hygiene - Shower and Prepare

Personal hygiene is crucial when getting a tattoo. Shower before your appointment and ensure that the area to be tattooed is clean. Avoid using lotions, oils, or perfumes on the day of your appointment, as they can interfere with the tattoo process. Wearing clean, comfortable clothing that provides easy access to the tattoo area will also help make the experience smoother for both you and the artist.

Don't: Touch and Pick at Your Fresh Tattoo

Aftercare is a critical part of the tattoo process. Once your tattoo is complete, your artist will provide you with specific aftercare instructions. Follow these instructions carefully to ensure proper healing. Avoid touching your fresh tattoo with dirty hands, and resist the urge to pick at any scabs that form. Picking at your tattoo can cause infections and damage the design. Keep the tattoo clean, moisturized, and protected from the sun during the healing process.

Do: Tip Your Artist

Tipping is a common practice in the tattoo industry and is a way to show appreciation for your artist's hard work. A standard tip is around 20% of the total cost of the tattoo. If you’re particularly pleased with the outcome, consider tipping on the higher end of that range. Tipping not only shows gratitude but also helps build a positive relationship with your artist, which can be beneficial for future tattoos.

Don't: Judge Other People's Tattoos

All art is subjective, and everyone has their own preferences and reasons for choosing their designs. Avoid judging other people’s tattoos, as what may not appeal to you could be incredibly meaningful to someone else. Respect the personal nature of tattoos and appreciate the diversity of art and expression in the tattoo community. Remember, no tattoo is inherently better or worse than another; it’s all about personal choice and significance.

Do: Be Punctual and Respect Your Artist’s Time

Arriving on time for your tattoo appointment is a matter of respect for your artist’s schedule. Tattoo artists often have multiple clients in a day, and arriving late can disrupt their workflow. If you need to reschedule, give as much notice as possible to avoid inconveniencing the artist and other clients.

Don't: Bring a Large Group to Your Appointment

While it might be tempting to bring friends for support, it’s best to limit the number of people you bring to your tattoo appointment. Most tattoo studios have limited space, and a large group can be distracting for both you and the artist. One or two close friends or family members are usually enough to provide support without causing disruption.

Do: Eat and Stay Hydrated Before Your Appointment

Getting a tattoo can be a physically taxing experience, especially if it’s a large or detailed piece. Make sure to eat a good meal and stay hydrated before your appointment. This will help keep your energy levels up and make the process more comfortable. Bringing a snack and a bottle of water to your appointment is also a good idea, especially for longer sessions.

Don't: Show Up Under the Influence

Never show up to your tattoo appointment under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Being under the influence can impair your judgment and pain tolerance, making the experience more difficult for both you and the artist. Most reputable tattoo studios will refuse service to clients who appear intoxicated. Staying sober ensures a safer and more enjoyable tattoo experience.

Do: Wear Appropriate Clothing

Consider the location of your tattoo when choosing what to wear to your appointment. Wear clothing that allows easy access to the area being tattooed and that you don’t mind getting ink on. For example, if you’re getting a leg tattoo, shorts or a skirt would be appropriate. If you’re getting a back tattoo, wear a top that can be easily removed or adjusted. Comfortable clothing will make the process more convenient for both you and your artist.

Do: Follow Up with Your Artist if You Have Concerns

If you have any concerns or questions during the healing process, don’t hesitate to contact your artist. They can provide advice and reassurance to ensure your tattoo heals properly. Good communication doesn’t end after the tattoo is finished; it’s important to keep in touch if you need any guidance or touch-ups.

Do: Be Patient During the Process

Tattoos can take time, especially larger or more detailed designs. Be patient with your artist and the process. Rushing can compromise the quality of the work. Trust that your artist is doing their best to create a piece of art that you’ll love.

Don't: Compare Prices and Quality with Others

Every tattoo artist has their own pricing structure and style. Avoid comparing prices and quality between different artists. What works for one person may not work for another. Focus on finding an artist whose work you admire and who fits within your budget, rather than trying to find the cheapest option.

Do: Take Care of Your Tattoo Long-Term

Even after your tattoo has healed, it’s important to take care of it to ensure it looks its best for years to come. Keep your tattoo moisturized, protect it from excessive sun exposure, and consider using sunscreen to prevent fading. Regular care will keep your tattoo vibrant and sharp.

Don't: Forget the Importance of Aftercare

Aftercare is not just about the first few weeks after getting a tattoo. Long-term care is essential to maintain the quality of your tattoo. Follow your artist’s aftercare instructions and continue to care for your tattoo as part of your regular skincare routine.

Conclusion - Good Tattoo Etiquette

Getting a tattoo is an exciting and personal experience. By following these dos and don'ts of tattoo etiquette, you can ensure a positive experience for both you and your artist. Remember, a tattoo is a lifelong commitment, and taking the time to do things right will result in a piece of art that you’ll be proud to wear for the rest of your life. Respect the process, trust your artist, and enjoy the journey of expressing yourself through this unique and timeless art form.


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