Choosing a Tattoo Studio
As the place where most people will go to get their tattoos done, to ask questions, and find designs, tattoo studios range in quality and character, and finding one that's right for you is important. It may be that there aren't any studios locally, or you feel you're limited to the artists who live and work near you, but there are a few things you can definitely tell about a tattoo studio just by keeping your eyes open and looking for a few basic things.
Studio hygiene is an important factor, and the procedures for avoiding infection are well known among professional tattooists. Simple techniques such as the use of autoclaves and other sterilization techniques, the use of single-use needles, a basic understanding of blood-borne pathogens, the tattooists personal hygiene safeguards, and the artist's knowledge of aftercare and the way skin works will give the most possible protection for problems. If in any doubt of how hygienic a tattoo studio is, ask, or think about trying somewhere where you feel hygiene is taken seriously. Tattooing is a professional art form, and whilst there are suspicious studios out there, the majority of tattooists take great pride and care in the hygiene their studios offer.
Around the studio, you'll see designs - if they're not up on the walls, then ask, and the studio will be able to provide samples of their previous work. An artist's portfolio is the surest way to gauge whether you like their style and quality of work. Don't be afraid to shop around! Different artists often prefer certain types of designs, and they'll have developed particularly well at certain styles. Most tattooists can work with most styles - it's the trade, but if you're looking for something specific, then be aware that artists often are just more naturally passionate and gifted around certain types of designs. Another type of design you might be shown, or want to look at are the catalogues of ready-made designs known as 'tattoo flash', or 'flash' for short - you can browse through these to see if there's anything you like, and a good artist will be able to adapt these designs to give you something a bit more unique. Some studios won't offer flash as they only work on custom pieces, however, the vast majority will have flash of some sort.