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How to Find the Right Tattoo Artist

You can either stumble into a shop one night after you’ve been drinking, or you can select a tattoo artist carefully. Which do you think is smartest?


  • Step 1: Find artists Ask people with tattoos that you like for artist recommendations.
  • TIP: Most artists have a specialty. Some are best at lettering, while others favor classic tattoo art. If you have a specific design in mind, ask around for an artist that specializes in that genre.
  • Step 2: Check out their parlors Visit the workplaces of the artists you’re considering. You want a licensed parlor that uses single-service needles, sterilizes its tools with a device called an autoclave, uses ink from disposable containers, and sterilizes your skin with an EPA-approved virucidal.
  • Step 3: Go online Look online to see if people have recommended or commented on the parlor or its artists.
  • TIP: Check with the local health department for any reported violations.
  • Step 4: Assess the artists Ask for proof that the artist has been vaccinated for Hepatitis C, and ask if he or she is a member of The Alliance of Professional Tattooing, an organization that keeps artists apprised of new safety issues.
  • Step 5: Browse the artist’s work Once you’ve decided on an artist, browse his look-book. Note if the lines of his drawings are clean.
  • TIP: Bringing pictures of the kind of tattoo you want will help the artist help you.
  • Step 6: Ask about color Ask the artist about color choices. An experienced artist will be able to tell you which colors will work best with your skin tone.
  • Step 7: Schedule an appointment Schedule an appointment that gives you enough time to be sure of your choice—and enough chance to back out!
  • FACT: More than a third of people between the ages of 18 and 25 have at least one tattoo.

You Will Need

  • A general idea of the tattoo design you want
  • Time to check out several parlors
  • Willingness to ask questions
  • Pictures of the kind of design you want

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