tattoo shop etiquette. it's a thing | 5 tips you should know

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you’re ready to get inked…
but do you know about tattoo shop etiquette?

yes it’s definitely a thing, and although shop culture varies from shop to shop - but the LAST thing you wanna do during a multi-hour session is annoy your artist or the shop.

here are 5 tattoo shop etiquette tips you should know:


So you’ve picked the studio, and chose an artist based on the tattoo style that you want - and now it’s time to start the design process. When you’re getting a custom piece done and your artist is creating new art from scratch - bring references! Photos, sketches, historical references and giving as much detail to help your artist realize your idea and bring it to life, helps create a good collaborative relationship between you and your artist.

P.S. Be aware of plagiarism! Like all artwork, copying another tattoo artist’s original designs or requesting to use one of your artist’s existing designs doesn’t really vibe well with artists. Be respectful.


Control your possé. Unless you’re Floyd Mayweather or Drake rolling crew deep into the shop (which you’ve likely closed off to the public), limit the number of supportive friends coming to your tattoo session with you. Although every studio has a different shop culture, make sure your pals are polite and respect the studio and the artist’s space. Asking ahead of time doesn’t hurt either.


Always consult the artist first and inquire about rates before booking your tattoo session. Pieces will vary in price depending if you are doing a flash (predesigned tattoos usually on display in the shop or in a book where customers, usually walk-ins, can pick from), a touchup, cover-up or full custom piece - but each artist will give you the cost based on what you are getting. What’s NOT cool is negotiating the rate down - it’s just disrespectful to the artist and the work they put in. After all it IS permanent art on your skin and you’t want the best possible outcome.

P.S. TIP your artist! Like any service-based industry (valet parking, body waxing, restaurants, hair services), tipping is customary. A good guide is 15-20% as a minimum.


Let’s be honest, your tattoo artist will likely be spending multiple hours working very intimately and very closely to your skin. Make sure you check your hygiene and come into your appointment clean, smelling decent and free of additional oils and lotions on your skin. Your artist will APPRECIATE it, cause no one wants to be working on someone smelling like your old gym sock.


Plan and make sure you’re actually READY for your new ink. In design consultations (see ETIQUETTE TIP #1), make sure that you communicate all of your design suggestions and changes to your artists. It’s a good idea that once you have a finalized design, to let it sink in and make sure you are feeling great about it as it IS permanent. On the day of, make sure that you are 100% with the design placement, and your physical nerves are ready to add permanent ink to your body. You don’t want to waste your artist’s time if you are being indecisive. It is a big decision, so better be SURE.

are you a tattoo artist or shop that have other tips or client pet peeves?

let us know on social media or in the comments below