Walk-In Tattoos: What You Need To Know Before Getting A Walk In Tattoo

Written by: Jason White

A walk-in tattoo is exactly what it sounds like: you walk in to the tattoo shop and you select a tattoo to get from one of the flashbooks of the artists in the shop. Whether you’re selecting a walk-in tattoo because it’s easier than booking or session, or whether it’s a spur-of-the-moment idea while you’re out strolling with friends, we’ve got everything you need to know before getting a walk-in tattoo.

What to Expect From Getting a Walk-In Tattoo

You don’t need an appointment for a walk-in tattoo, as the process works on a first-come, first-served basis. That being said, you need to go to a shop without any expectations because they may be fully booked or have a list of walk-in clients already lined up. 

Some tattoo shops advertise that they do not do walk-ins but are by appointment only, so make sure to do your research prior to walking in and anticipating appointment-free service.

What to Know Before Getting a Walk-In Tattoo

There are a few other important factors to keep in mind when it comes to a walk-in tattoo.

Go With an Idea of What You Want

Even though a walk-in tattoo requires that you select a design option from a flashbook, you should have a general idea of not only the tattoo image you’d like but also the potential placement. Don’t select from the first flashbook you see and have a look at the different styles available by the different artists in the shop.

Be Willing to Be Flexible

You have to be ready to select the tattoo as is - that’s the beauty of the convenience of walk-in appointments. While you may be able to make a few comments on color and sizing, it’s important that you are adaptable to the flashbook design you’ve selected. You shouldn’t head in with a printed design from the internet and expect to be tattooed; that takes planning and consultations, and many artists don’t feel comfortable tattooing someone else’s work.

In addition, you need to be financially flexible. You are paying for the design and the time of the artist. Walk-Ins are normally charged by the amount of time the piece will take, which differs between each shop. 

Pick a Small or Medium Sized Tattoo

Walk-Ins shouldn’t be abused and used for huge tattoos or giant back pieces. You should use the walk-in feature of a shop for smaller or medium-sized tattoos. Some shops may even refuse to do any walk-in sessions for designs that aren’t simple. 

Be Prepared For Your Session

You need to prepare for your walk-in session in the same way you would prepare for any tattoo. Some preparation advice includes:

FAQs About Walk-In Tattoos

Are there cases when tattoo artists refuse to do walk-in tattoos?

A shop might not allow any walk-in tattoo appointments. A tattoo artist might refuse to do a walk-in tattoo if your request is too complicated or if you are too demanding with the work you want to have done, or if the artist is fully booked for the day. In addition, if you are intoxicated, you will be denied a walk-in tattoo.

What are the benefits and disadvantages of walk-in tattoos?

The benefits of walk-in tattoos include not having to wait for your session appointment, the adrenaline of the spontaneity of the tattoo, and generally having to spend less on the tattoo, overall. 

The disadvantages of walk-in tattoos are that they are less personalized designs, you may feel pressured with the flashbook piece you selected, you might regret the tattoo down the line, or you might feel disappointed if you walk in expecting to leave with a tattoo but they are fully booked.

Do all tattoo studios offer walk-in tattoo services?

No, not all tattoo shops allow walk-ins. You can call ahead if you want to confirm that a shop allows walk-ins, or to confirm that they aren’t fully booked for a walk-in appointment. 

Our Final Thoughts

Walk-in tattoos are a quick way to get a spontaneous design, but these appointments require the same respect as a standard session. You also need to make sure you are more flexible on both design and financial contribution during a walk-in appointment. And don’t forget that it’s still important to tip the artist after your walk-in appointment!

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