Scratcher Tattoos: What They Are And Why You Should ALWAYS Avoid Them

Written by: Pete
Updated:

A “scratcher” is the term that is used to describe an unprofessional or inexperienced tattoo artist. This word is a perfect description for them because they literally scratch your skin, leaving you with an unimpressive tattoo and potentially causing permanent damage or infection to your skin. Scratcher tattoos should be avoided at all costs!

Related: Stick and Poke Tattoos: Are they Safe?

Why Scratcher Tattoos Are a Bad Idea

On our site, we always say: a good tattoo isn’t cheap, and a cheap tattoo isn’t good. Unfortunately, some people are desperate for ink at a low price, and that’s where scratchers see an opportunity.

Scratchers normally charge very little for their work, knowing they are inexperienced in the industry. They often tattoo out of unsanitary conditions, such as their home or basement. And they are unlicensed, uncertified, and truly unsafe.

How Scratchers Damage the Reputation of the Tattoo Industry

Becoming a tattoo artist is the same as any other creative trade; it’s no walk in the park and it takes years of practice and financial investment. Apprenticeships are necessary to be respected in the industry, and pursuing certifications, licensing, and training under an established and respected artist is always advised.

Scratchers bypass all of that. They establish their own side-hustle or hobby of tattooing as a way to make a quick buck. Imagine going to a financial advisor and trusting them with all your wealth but they told you they never went to school for finance, they learned their work off of YouTube - that’s what a scratcher is in the tattooing industry.

Scratchers will generally buy a cheap kit off the internet, have poor sanitation habits, and their ink is at risk of contamination which puts your health at risk. In addition to all that, without the education, knowledge, and practice, they often don’t know where to deposit the ink in the dermis. This leads to tattoo blowout, which cannot truly be fixed.

Tattooing is an art, and it’s a trade that takes immense passion and dedication. Scratchers create permanent disasters on skin that give tattooing a bad name and put the health of others at risk with their hobby.

6 Red Flags That Your Tattoo Artist is a Scratcher

Sometimes if you’re new to the world of tattooing, it’s hard to spot the good from the bad. Lucky for you, there are warning signs that will help you avoid a scratcher and we’ve rounded them up for you.

Scratchers Don’t Work in a Shop

In most cases, scratchers are working out of their home, basement, or, in some circumstances, your own home. This is because they don’t have the qualifications or apprenticeship experience to be hired by a shop. If your tattoo artist says you can drop by their house for the session, stay away!

Scratchers Give Excuses for Avoiding Apprenticeships

Listen, we get it: apprenticeships are expensive. But tattooing is a valid career that deserves the same kind of financial investment that any other schooling deserves. Ask your artist who they apprenticed under, and if they start making excuses, run in the other direction.

Scratchers Don’t Follow Safe Practices

Are they wearing gloves? Do they have one-time-use needles on hand? Is their equipment properly sanitized and wrapped in front of you? Is their ink stored safely or open to avoid bacteria infiltration? Do they have blood-borne pathogen certifications and sanitation licenses available to show you? Are they tattooing over carpet (which can’t be cleaned properly)?

Scratchers Will Give You a Tattoo For Very Cheap

The ultimate appeal of getting tatted by a scratcher is the low cost - who can resist it! Alarmingly low prices should be a huge red flag. There are reasons tattoos cost a significant chunk of money, and you get what you pay for is not a cliche.

They Tell You They Can Tattoo Anything

Ever notice how professional tattoo artists seem to have a style and preference of work that they do? If Van Gogh couldn’t paint every art style, chances are your scratcher can’t either.

They Have a Poor Portfolio

Chances are your scratcher doesn’t have a portfolio of their work or their work looks like it was drawn by a child. You should also ask for before and after photos, because poor ink skills that cause blowout can only be spotted after a client leaves a shop and allows their tattoo a few days of healing.

Our Final Thoughts

Tattoos are a lifelong commitment, and you want art that will last and look great over time. Going to a scratcher for a tattoo not only puts you at risk of getting poor art but also puts your health at serious risk. Scratchers try and take advantage of people’s desire to get tattooed but not break the bank in the process, and they are an insult to the industry.

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