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31285 Temecula Parkway Suite 170
Temecula CA 92592

Finding a shop

You must go to the tattoo shop that you are thinking about getting tattooed at. Don’t call unless it is to get the hours. The look and feel of a shop is not something that you can’t judge over the phone,

Safety. You should see it lot of hand washing. Your artist should wash his hands before tattooing you and alter lie has collected your money. The surface that your artist uses as a base to do your tattoo, the place where his equipment is, should be disinfected before and after he tattoos you. There should be barriers between the pieces of equipment that he uses and where he will be touching with his gloves. If he puts on a pair of gloves and is touching everything with them it is just as bad as not wearing gloves.

A potential risk would be coming into contact with dirty tools. His disposable equipment should be disposed of and not reused. Ink should be put into small, single use ink caps and any excess ink thrown away after your tattoo. Make sure that you ask if the equipment is thrown away or reused after, and if it is reused, sterilized. It is good if the trashcans that contain the actual procedural waste have lids and are operated with a foot pedal. You should see that common areas, such as counters and door handles appear clean and look like someone regularly cleans them. The chair that you sit in to be tattooed should be wiped down and clean. The overall appearance or the shop should be clean.

You can ask if they have an autoclave and if so a recent spore test. A spore test is a way of testing whether or not an autoclave is doing its job. Spore tests are not required in all states but responsible shop owners should know if their sterilizer works.

During the procedure your safety is not in jeopardy as it is only your own blood that you are coming in contact with. Your artist is at a much greater risk, because he is coming in contact with your potentially infected blood. This is why artists wear gloves, and are careful during the procedure.

Transfer of bodily fluids transmits HIV. A relatively substantial amount of fluid, in relation to tattooing practices, needs to be transferred. Hepatitis is much harder to kill and a much more real risk in relation to tattooing.

When a tattoo is finished it should be bandaged. This is usually a health department regulation. A tattoo seeps for a while after it is done and the bandage protects it from the elements and airborne bacteria. Saran wrap is not an appropriate bandage. All l can say on this subject is to think back to 7th grade science and what a Petri dish looked like;  a magnifying glass to grow bacteria. You will be creating an excellent environment to grow bacteria it you wear saran wrap on your fresh tattoo.

Health department. Most areas require health department inspections and the local health department is usually the regulating body. If this is the case in your area your shop would have a valid health department certificate.

BBB and similar institutions. The better business bureau and the chamber of commerce are business organizations. These organizations are here for the public to check and see if the shop has any complaints. These organizations do not report on how good a shop is. They can only tell you whether or not a business has had complaints and if they have been satisfied. These are not reporters of ethics in the sense that if a shop is a member of the BBB they are necessarily the best place to get work done. You must check out the shop for yourself. You must go there. This is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. You need to ask people that you know, that have tattoos, where they got them. You need to ask these same people about their experiences. This is an art form; this is also a health concern. Do yourself the favor and get it done right. You will save yourself many sleepless nights wondering if you did all you could. Don’t settle for less, tattooing IS very competitive and remember that you will take this decision to your grave.

Here are some things to look for during the footwork. You just walked into a tattoo shop. What do you see?

Is it well lit?
Is the floor clean?
Does it smell good?
Are people smoking?
Drinking alcohol?
Is it seedy?
Is it scary?
Do the artists talk to you?
Are they clean?
Are they healthy?
Is there a business license?
Is there a health department certificate?
Are they current?
Do they have an autoclave?
Do they have a recent spore test?
Do they keep records?
Do they use disposable needles?
D o they use disposable tubes?
If they use re-usable tubes, are they in sterilizer pouches and properly sterilized?
Is anyone getting tattooed?
Is the artist wearing gloves?
Are there plastic barriers protecting the equipment in use from contamination?
Do the people who work there answer your questions?
Do they check your ID?
Are the finished customers wearing bandages or are they wearing saran wrap?
Are you in someone’s garage?


When you find a good artist you are most likely going to want to keep seeing them. Like finding a good hairstylist of mechanic, it is not that easy a feat. You should know that tattoo shops sometimes have a high turnover rate for artists. At my shop we’ve had the same guys forever, but that is not necessarily the case for every place. Tattooing is a high stress job, and let’s face it, we are talking about artists here. We are talking emotional dynamite! Sometimes people get ticked off about some little thing, throw a fit, and walk off the job. I’ve done it myself. I’ve gotten pissed off and told everyone they can go screw themselves. I’m a drama queen. A lot of us are; we’re artists. We have fragile egos. We love praise like anyone else, but have a hard time with criticism. Unfortunately for some of my customers, the shops that I left in a snit were not very forthcoming about where I moved. I can understand this. They don’t want the customers to leave with the artist. This is why I now own my own shop. If anyone is leaving – it’s not gonna be me.

You can avoid this by leaving your name and number with your artist and letting them know that it is OK for them to call you if they move on.

You can also decide not to do this and keep patronizing the shop. For the most part, reputable shops take a lot into consideration before hiring artists and work out the quality control for you. I only hire people that l would get tattooed by, so I am very conscientious about whom is working in my shop, after all, this person also represents me.

My reputation is tied into the name of my shop and l am always aware of the image projected to the general public. If an artist is unethical or they suck then I am too, this is a heavy burden for shop owners.

Tattoo conventions are a fun way to introduce you to the world of tattoo. They are a great way to see lots of different artists in a smaller arena. Artists come from all over the country, sometimes all over the world and it is a chance for an enthusiast to get tattooed by a famous artist that they may never he able to see in the artist‘s own home area. If you want at tattoo by a high profile artist that is coming to your town for a convention it would be advisable for you to contact him prior to the convention and make an appointment.

Some artists are in high demand and have quite at long waiting list. A lot of artists bring along favorite customers to work on at the convention to show off their skills. They sometimes don‘t count on people actually getting tattooed there. Some conventions are able to deliver really good business for artists and some are a bust. Mostly tattoo shops and artists use the tattoo convention as a means of advertising. Usually artists encourage their customers to enter their tattoo work in the contests. Contests are an awesome way to get national attention, as there are usually tattoo magazines that cover the convention and the contest winners. For a lot of people having their photo in a national magazine is a dream come true.

Generally prices are a little higher at conventions to cover the convention overhead. Occasionally an artist or shop will run a show special.

The conditions at conventions are somewhat primitive. You have a very limited space and privacy is almost unheard of, as this really is a showcase for the shop and artist. Most shops don’t bring along their fancy adjustable chairs and with a I0‘ by I0‘ booth, the public is filing by right there. Expect your artist to be asked a million questions and expect to be photographed over and over.

Sterile procedures are followed religiously and are usually regulated by the local health department. In some instances artists are required to have individual health department certificates. Usually there is a sterilization service available to the artists on site.