I get a lot of people walking in my shop leading off the conversation that ensues with the question, “what is your shop minimum?” or “how much do you charge?” Most of the time, I try to briefly explain what are more important things to look for when searching for the right shop or artist and the majority of the time, it seems to go in one’s ear and out the other. This leaves me believing many people are simply looking for the cheapest price. That’s fine and I realize I won’t be able to sway the majority of the people who walk into a shop with this frame of mind but I do want to put a few things out there to help people who wish to put a little more thought into such a permanent decision. Here are some things to look for:
- Portfolio- Any good artist will have a portfolio of their tattoo work in the shop and/or online to look at. You want to look for an artist with the style of artwork you like the best. You don’t need to see your tattoo but look for aspects you want in your tattoo whether that’s realism, traditional with bolder outlining, lettering, blackwork or tribal. Look for crisp, clean work and lines that aren’t wobbly and inconsistent. Look for smooth shading and color. Look for healed pictures as some tattoos may look good at first but may not look good over time.
- Cleanliness- I would imagine this goes without saying but I’ve been in some pretty nasty tattoo shops. It should pretty much be a clean as a doctor’s office. obviously there will be more up on the wall and might look a bit more cluttered but the floor shop be clean and there should not be dust built up. Check the bathroom too as that will always tell a tale.
- Customer service- This to me is not as important as finding someone who does your style of art but is important. Personally, I’m not OK with artists who are rude and don’t pay much attention when people walk in the shop. Artists should answer emails and phone calls rather promptly.
- Referrals-Be wary of recommendations from friends.The majority of the time, I would say referrals from friends are pretty reliable but in the case of tattoos, I find that a lot of people don’t know what good tattoos should look like or can look like. Even if a friend refers you to someone and you like their work, there may be someone better suited for you out there. Do online searches and look at portfolios.
- Price-Price should play little to no part in who does your tattoo. Saving $20 or even $500 will mean little 10 or 20 years form now when your tattoo is not as spectacular as it could be or downright horrible.