Choosing a tattoo artist

Choosing a tattoo artist

Getting your very first tattoo, or getting a tattoo in a place where you have no connections (like if you’ve moved to a new city or you’re on holiday) requires a little bit of homework. Unless you’re Pete Davidson or that dude from Die Antwoord, you might want to make sure your tattoo artist is not a first-timer working as an apprentice from your cousin’s best friend’s girlfriend’s mother’s garage.

Even a super pricey artist working from an upmarket studio might not be your best bet. Since the ink is forever (barring expensive removal), rather do some proper research and make sure your tattoo is done by someone who’s going to do the best job possible for you, and provide a pleasant experience. Here are a few guidelines around what to look for when finding that person.  

Start by checking out a few Facebook pages, reading reviews, following artists on Instagram and asking friends for recommendations. When you think you’ve found your tattoo artist, visit the studio and check for a few important things.

Diverse style

Unless you specifically want a tribal tattoo, don’t go to someone who specialises in them. If you want something with super thin lines, or more of an illustration style, a person experienced in chunky thick tribal tats is not your person. Find someone who has a diverse style and check out their website or in-studio portfolio to get a good idea of the different styles they rock at.  


It’s obviously vital that any tattoo shop and artist adheres to super strict hygiene standards, not only in terms of COVID, but also so that there’s less risk of infection. Most reputable shops will take cleanliness very seriously, but if you walk in and see any sign of grubbiness, walk out.

A good attitude

A friendly vibe is also super important – you don’t want to go for your first tattoo and be treated like the science nerd among the kids who are too cool for school. Even if you’re getting a tiny little red heart on your wrist, you should be treated with as much friendliness and professionalism as someone spending eight hours getting a Welsh dragon inked across their back.  It’s always a good idea to go in and get a feel for the place and the artist/s.

A proven track Record

We know everybody has to start somewhere, but don’t be the practise person for an apprentice. Make sure the artist you’re considering has great reviews and has been doing tattoos for a long time.

An actual studio

Even if the studio moved to a home studio or the back of a bakery because of lockdown last year, make sure they are a registered business, with an online presence. The reason for this is that you want to make sure there is recourse if anything goes wrong – like your snake tattoo ends up looking like a sad earthworm. If your tat artist has no online presence and no commercial liability insurance, there’s nothing you can do to get your money back or get the problem fixed.

At the end of the day, go with your gut. By checking out Social Media, visiting the studio/s and meeting the potential artist/s, you’ll get a feel for whether you want to trust them with your body art. By meeting with the artist, you can also talk about your ideas and they may be able to refine your idea or work with you to finalise the piece before it goes onto your body.

Tattoo Artist