12 Questions To Ask A Tattoo Artist Before Your Tattoo Appointment

Written by: Claudia

Getting a tattoo is a life-long commitment, and it’s important to be as prepared as possible before you even think of heading on this journey. There are many questions you should ask your tattoo artist prior to sitting in the chair and getting inked. We’ve put together a list of the most important questions to ask your tattoo artist before your tattoo session.

Related: What To Expect From a Tattoo Consultation

Questions You Should Ask Your Tattoo Artist

Here are some important questions you should ask your artist before getting a tattoo.

How Long Have You Been Working as a Tattoo Artist?

Tattoo artists go through an apprenticeship prior to becoming a professional artist. And the time and dedication that an artist puts into this process is an important indicator of their qualifications. It’s important to ask your artist about their experience in the industry, their knowledge of safety practices for tattooing, and the length of time they’ve worked at various parlors. 

What Styles Do You Specialize In?

While you may have a highly qualified tattoo artist in front of you, with years of experience under their belt, every artist has their specialty that they’ve mastered and prefer working on. If you have a tattoo design in mind, it may be helpful to discuss this with the artist and see if it’s something that works within their design portfolio. You don’t want to be tattooed by someone who specializes in geometric designs if you’re looking for a realistic portrait. 

If their style does not align to your tattoo ideas, they will likely know which artist in the shop would be best suited for your tattoo needs. Experience in the industry is important, but masterization of a design style is essential to really perfecting the ink you have in mind. 

Can I See Your Portfolio of Previous Work?

Every tattoo artist has a book compiled of the designs they’ve made over time, either on paper or on client’s skin. This portfolio will not only give you an overview of this artist’s skill level and design style, but should also show you how ink they’ve completed heals, with before and after pictures of clients. You could also use this portfolio to find an example of a similar piece that you’re looking for, to see if the artist matches your style preference. 

What Methods of Tattooing Do You Practice?

Whether you’re looking to go the traditional tattooing route with machinery or hoping to get a culturally significant hand-poked tattoo, it’s important to know what your artist uses to administer their ink. Along with knowing the technique your artist will use to give you a tattoo, this also allows you to assume your potential pain tolerance for the experience

What Precautions Do You Take To Sterilize Your Environment?

One of the most important questions you can ask your tattoo artist is how they enforce hygiene into their work practices and working environment. It’s important to know all the steps they take to make sure thait their client’s experience is ideal and in order to avoid any infections. Often, the parlor’s cleanliness will be an indicator of the sterile conditions of the experience you will have with your artist. 

It is helpful to be extra cautious and to ask your tattoo artist to see their health and safety certifications and inquire into what products they use for their workspace. In addition, they should be able to show you that all their needles are single use and sealed for protection.

What Type of Ink Do You Use?

When it comes to safety, it’s also important to ask your tattoo artist about the ink they are using for the tattoo. High quality inks will be free from metals and will not have been sitting open on an artist’s shelf for many months prior to being used. Tattoo ink poisoning is rare, but it can happen; you need to ask your artist about their materials to make sure you’re protecting yourself.

Have a look at our guide on which inks we think are The Best In The Industry.

What is the Cost Range for This Tattoo?

The cost of a tattoo depends on a multitude of factors, including:

  • Whether the artist charges by piece size or by hour
  • How long the tattoo will take
  • Whether the tattoo is grey or in color
  • Where on the body you are being tattooed
  • The complexity of the design itself
  • Whether you will require multiple appointments

It’s important to discuss all these items with your tattoo artist and get an estimate for the potential cost of your tattoo so you can plan accordingly. This will also help you plan out how long the sessions may take, and whether you’ll need to return for follow-up appointments.

What Is The Best Area on My Body to Get This Tattoo?

While you may already have an idea for the placement of your design, it’s helpful to ask your tattoo artist if they have a recommendation. They can most often pinpoint a place on your body where there might be a better flow for the piece, and they can even help you find a spot that’s less painful if that’s a concern of yours.

How Do You Handle Pain Management During the Tattooing Process?

If pain is something you fear, it’s important to discuss this fear with your tattoo artist. Most artists will offer small breaks during their tattooing session in order to allow a client a bit of relief from the experience. In addition, some may use a numbing cream to help with the process, or may suggest another pain relief alternative to make sure you are comfortable.

Do You Have Specific Aftercare Instructions?

Ask your artist whether they have specific aftercare products or steps, tips, or tricks to make the healing of your tattoo a much smoother and pain-free process. They have worked with many clients and have experience with multiple industry products, and likely know what’s best for the work that they’ve done on skin. 

Most tattoo artists will provide you with a sheet of paper that contains aftercare instructions for when you get home and remove your wrap for the first time. Asking your artist how long they estimate it will take to heal their work may also help you plan out your aftercare journey a bit better.

What’s Your Policy on Touch-Ups and Revisions?

Listen, skin is a porous canvas, and unlike paper, things can sometimes go wrong. The ink may not hold, the tattoo may scab and take pieces of the design with it, or maybe your artist missed a spot that they didn’t notice during the tattooing process. It’s vital that you ask your tattoo artist how touch-ups or revisions work at their parlor. In most cases, a touch-up after a few months of healing is completely free. 

What are the Risks and Potential Complications Associated With Getting a Tattoo?

Getting a tattoo is a medical procedure, and like any medical procedure, there are numerous risks involved. Your tattoo artist should be transparent about these risks, and should give you suggestions to help reduce the chances of any of these issues arising. Of course, some issues, such as an allergic reaction to the ink, cannot be anticipated by the artist themselves. 

For all the risks associated with tattooing, check out our article, The Side Effects And Risks Of Tattooing - What You Need To Consider.

Our Final Thoughts

Asking your tattoo artist many questions prior to your tattoo appointment is important for several reasons. These questions ensure that you and your tattoo artist are on the same page and have a clear understanding of what you want. It ensures your tattoo artist is qualified and experienced, so you can feel safe during the entire process. And it helps you feel more confident about what you can expect during and after the tattooing process, making sure you are prepared for the entire experience. Don’t think of these questions as tedious or annoying, but essential to getting the best possible results with your tattoo.

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