The List: 8 things to remember when getting a tattoo

  1. Cleanliness is next to godliness, even in a tattoo parlor

If you’re expecting to be inked under sanitary conditions, then don’t you think it is only fair that your own personal hygiene be in check as well? You are about to get up close and personal with this artist whose nose is going to be inches away from your flesh. Doesn’t it make sense to give them clean skin to work with? 

2. Bartering is strongly discouraged

There are individuals out there who are willing to peddle their flesh for ink, play the friend card to leverage a discount on services, or even come to a tattoo shop with the intention of negotiating, I learned while hanging out with Erran “Ether” Hamlin at Basement Tattoo in Winston Salem. All of the above is frowned upon in most tattooing establishments.

“We are commissions-based artist,” Hamlin said. “You are paying me to design something that is going to be permanent on your skin. I don’t buy cheap materials or supplies so that you don’t end up with a cheap tattoo.”

  1. “No alcohol, marijuana, or pills beyond this point”

A tattoo consists of needles injecting ink under a layer of skin. You are going to feel something when you get a tattoo. For some, there may or may not be a level of pain associated with the process. As Hamlin likes to say, “Don’t cheat the pain.”

“We don’t judge people for how they want to deal with pain but there is a certain level of tolerance that we have,” Hamlin said “Drinking too much is going to thin your blood, getting high is going to make you sensitive, and taking pills never turns out good. Go in knowing why you are there.”

  1. Just say no to price shopping

Searching for the right artist for you is to be expected. But don’t choose your artist based on who can give you the best deal.

“You want to base what you are going to put on the rest of your body off of the skill and experience of the artist,” Hamlin said “You don’t want to go looking for the cheapest price because then you’re definitely going to get cheap quality.”

  1. Just because it looks good doesn’t make it good for you

Remember that what looks good in a magazine may not be the best piece for your skin, work well with your complexion, or fit in the space you have chosen for your next piece to go.

  1. State the purpose of your visit

Don’t be the person who says, “I don’t know what I want. I just came in for a tattoo.”

While it is best practice to give your artist some degree of artistic freedom, at least have an idea of what you want.

  1. You came to an artist so let an artist make art

“Don’t be over particular about your design,” Hamlin said. “We do like having direction of where we are going to go with your idea but we have to have some type of artistic freedom to do a good job and make sure it flows.”

  1. Tipping not required, but it is appreciated

“Tipping is like saying to your artist that even though they asked you to pay one price you realize they have gone above and beyond to make you that special piece and you appreciate them for it,” Hamlin said.