Tattoo Studio Directory & What To Look For

What to look for and avoid in tattoo parlors and studios.

So, you've decided that you're going to get a tattoo - whether it be your first or yet another to add to your personal collection - but you don't know where you want to have it done.

If you're like me, you don't want to go just anyplace to have needles stuck underneath your skin. So, what do you look for, and what do you avoid?

For health reasons, I choose studios such as the Skin Art Gallery in Dallas, Texas. This place is more like a hospital than a tattoo parlor - they use certified equipment to sterilize their needles, they keep themselves clean and sanitary, and they don't buy into re-using ink on the next customer to save a few bucks. In other words, the risk of infection or disease spreading at this particular studio is very, very low - something I put a high value on.

How to choose a studio or parlor before you whip out the wallet:

Walk into the studio or parlor and ask questions. Be polite and friendly, but insist that you get the answers you're looking for. Some questions to ask could include:

Do you sterilize your needles and equipment?

Can I watch while you work on another customer? (This is great, as you get a feel for the work being done, you're getting a "live portfolio" from the artists, and you'll see for yourself that tattooing doesn't hurt nearly as much as some people would like for you to think - such as your mother.)

What do you do with leftover ink after you're finished with the customer? (This is important -if you get the leftover ink from the guy before you, you're also getting whatever's in his blood - this could include diseases such as HIV, so by all means avoid places that don't just trash the ink.)

Take a look around the studio. If it's a dank, smoky, dark atmosphere, odds are it won't be as sterile as you'd like. Think about it: would you want to be in the alley behind the health clinic for treatment instead of inside the clean, sterile building? Of course not!

When talking to the people that run the studio, do you feel comfortable, or do you feel like they're trying to take your money and rush you into making some kind of decision?

How long has this studio been in business? If they're brand-new, they haven't had a chance to prove themselves - this might not be bad in itelf, but established businesses tell on themselves through past customers.

Ask your friends about their tattoos. "Where'd you get that done?" and "Do you like it?" as well as "What did you think of the place you got it done at?" are all wonderful questions to ask. Usually your friends will be honest with you - if they enjoyed their experiences, perhaps it's worth a try.

All-in-all, I suggest finding a studio that you're comfortable in. If you're comfortable, then you'll be relaxed, and the work will turn out that much better. And remember: Safety above cost. I'd rather pay a hundred bucks for a tattoo at a reputable place such as the Skin Art Gallery than fifty for the same thing at a place that doesn't emphasize safety, cleanliness, and friendliness.

The customer is always right, so exercise your freedom to choose.

Enjoy your new tattoo!

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