Tattoo Etiquette 101: Dos And Don'ts At The Studio

Written by: tattify

Unlike many movies seem to show, there are fitting manners and protocols you should follow whether heading into a tattoo studio for a consultation or your tattoo appointment. Proper etiquette is not the rule but the guide you should follow for a respectful and enjoyable experience for both you and the shop. We’ve got the best list of dos and don’ts for you when it comes to tattoo studio etiquette.


Tattoo Shop Etiquette - Dos and Don’ts

A little bit of tattoo etiquette goes a long way! Tattooing is a respectable career and should be treated as such. 

Here is our collection of the best tips and tricks when it comes to having a great experience in the studio for both your tattoo consultation and your session.

What NOT to Do - Don’ts at the Studio

  • Don’t attempt to sneak in if you are underage or come to a tattoo studio with a fake ID. It’s better to get a parent to come with you to consent to the tattoo, as you’re more likely to be accepted.
  • Don’t show up under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and don’t try to hide any medications you are currently on from your tattoo artist.
  • Don’t get offended if your tattooist makes artistic design changes to your original tattoo idea; they are the expert after all.
  • Don’t be late for your tattoo consultation or session appointment. This is very disrespectful. If you think you will be late, call the studio and let them know.
  • Don’t skip your tattoo appointment without giving your artist advanced notice. They are often paid by session, so they need the time to book in a new client.
  • Do not bring any children to the tattoo studio.
  • Don’t promise to work with one artist, have them draw up a design, and then take that design to another artist to work with them; that is extremely rude.
  • Don’t force your artist to talk during your session as they may need silence to concentrate on the work they are doing.
  • Don’t make immediate plans after your appointment because you can never anticipate how long a session may run.
  • Don’t fidget or wiggle during your session as this is not only distracting but could lead to your artist messing up your tattoo.
  • Don’t print off a picture from the internet and expect that a tattoo artist will copy the design. This is discourteous to the original artist as well as your present tattoo artist.
  • Don’t be offended if a tattoo artist chooses not to work with you; your style preference or needs may not be something they can achieve and they don’t want to disappoint you.
  • Don’t tell an artist they have complete freedom but then show up to your session with a list of changes and demands to your piece.
  • Don’t bring anyone to your session without asking your artist for permission during the consultation. Many artists do not see tattooing as a spectator sport.
  • Don’t blast loud music during your appointment. Not only is this distracting for your artist, but it can also be unsafe should your artist need to get your attention quickly.
  • Don’t use any numbing creams prior to your session without explicit permission from your artist beforehand.
  • Don’t touch the area being tattooed while your artist is working on it.
  • Don’t enter the shop loud or rowdy, like it is a party place and not a place of business. 

What TO Do - Dos at the Studio

  • Do come prepared with a general idea of what you would like to have done and be as specific as possible. Bring reference photos or sketches if needed.
  • Do prepare for your consultation with extensive research and a list of questions you may have about the process. Ask about fees, touch-ups, sanitation, and licensing of the shop.
  • Do take your time researching shops and artists and enter a shop knowing which artist you might like to work with.
  • Do look through an artist’s portfolio and use that as a reference when consulting about your own tattoo design.
  • Do ensure you are maintaining proper hygiene prior to entering the studio. The longer you sit in a session, the greater the body odor increases so it’s best to combat that beforehand.
  • Do be transparent about design elements you are and aren’t comfortable with.
  • Do tell your artist about medical conditions or skin health concerns you may have.
  • Do let your artist know about any placement preferences or sizing preferences that you have for the design, but trust their opinions and suggestions in the process.
  • Do bring something with you to the session to keep you distracted such as a book or phone, but ensure it doesn’t interfere with being tattooed.
  • Do be honest with your artist if you ever need a break during your session or if something is making you uncomfortable.
  • Do take the time to tip your tattoo artist after your session. Have a look at our article on tipping if you need help with this. 

Our Final Thoughts

Tattoos are becoming more and more popular and along with that, there have been more and more issues regarding tattoo etiquette in the studio. Remember that a tattoo shop is a place of business and deserves to be respected. Treat this working environment well and remember our dos and don’ts on your next trip to the studio.

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