Tattoo Shop Etiquette

Etiquette in the Shop

Etiquette. An old school frechified word that basically means: act like you should, given where you are. Or, put another way: respect the people and place you find yourself in. So from the mall to the carwash, from the dive bar you love to the tattoo parlor you’re about to visit, from your mama’s mouth to God’s ear, know what’s what and behave accordingly.

Here are some basic DOs and DON’Ts for your tattoo shop/gallery visit.


Some homework – have an idea about the tattoo shop and its work prior to your visit. Ask around, read online reviews, stalk on Facebook, get a sense of who you are dealing with.

Be prepared to talk and listen, having a real conversation with your artist. Keep an open mind.

Try to bring some art, pictures or some other kinds of reference material with you. Tattoo artists are by nature and by trade visual people.

Be respectful towards your artist. Your tattoo artist has the talent, skill, knowledge and expertise you need. Your perfect tattoo can’t happen on its own.

Be clean, yo. This is a very personal and up-close thing. And be well. If you have a cold, reschedule. No one wants to be sneezed on.

If during your appointment you begin to feel funny or queasy, speak up fast! Your artist will know what to do.

Let your artist know about any medical issues you have. Are you pregnant? Do you have very sensitive skin? Ever had an allergic reaction to any topical lotions? Do you have high blood pressure? Are you talking any medications which may affect how you bleed or clot or heal?

Be on time. If you are late, you aren’t just messing up your appointment, but anyone who is booked after you.

Be sure to eat something before your appointment. The combination of being hungry and having tattoo work done can lead to dizziness.



Don’t be so stubborn that you will ask the artist’s opinion, knowing that you are going to ignore it.

Don’t get pissed off if the artist’s expert opinion doesn’t line up perfectly with if your initial thoughts.

Don’t go to a tattoo shop drunk. It’s rude and it leads to baaaaaaad choices.

Don’t feel like you have to talk throughout your appointment. Remember, your artist is focused on giving you the absolutely best effing tattoo ever. This requires concentration. (Also, don’t be insulted if your artists isn’t chatty – giving up small talk during your appointment is a small price to pay for getting great work.)

Don’t bring kids to the tattoo workplace – there are too many hazards for them.

Don’t try to bargain with your tattoo artist, and don’t ask your artists to be or be like another artist.

Don’t bring a bunch of people with you to your appointment. If you have to have someone there for moral support, and only if you HAVE TO, one person is the maximum number.

Don’t stay on your cell phone.

Don’t get tattooed while pregnant. Tattoos impact your immune system directly, and no one wants to take that chance. (A good tattoo artist will refuse to tattoo an expectant mother.)