The main mistake I made with my first tattoo was going to a rubbish tattooist. Thankfully, what I ended up with was fairly easily fixed (thank you, Hayley Parkin!), but a lot of the time this isn’t the case!

For the past couple of years, I’ve had something up here on this page about how to choose a tattoo artist and studio- however, it was crap. I wrote that thing when I was just really getting involved in writing and tattoos, and some things in it didn’t really hold up as being too important. Anyway, thanks to Mike Stratton and the Norwegian Tattoo Union, here is a much better pile of information for you. Read this all very carefully before you get a tattoo if you are unfamiliar with anything.

These days, many people are sitting at home and tattooing friends and acquaintances.
Some have business cards & websites proclaiming they “are doing some of the best tattooing in their area right now”.
Of course, this is far from the truth!
Some claim to be ‘health registered’ & have ‘the papers to prove it‘…they’re not & they haven’t!
A simple check with the local licensing department will ascertain as to whether a tattooist is registered…or not!
Any tattooist claiming to be registered who won’t show you a tattoo registration & let you make a note of the registration number….ISN’T REGISTERED & is therefore working illegally!

It may seem like a good idea.
It’s cheaper than a pro studio. It may well be someone you know. And the person is good at drawing. And it seems sterile with disposable grip and all.

But is it really so??
We in the tattoo profession see bad tattoos every day, scarring and different types of reactions.

This is our profession, something we do every day.
We are updated with new regulations and rules. We know how to practice good hygiene in the workplace and how to keep the risk of infection, scarring and bacterial infections to an absolute minimum with cross contamination & infection controls & correct sterilisation procedures of the equipment we use etc.

The amateur home tattooist knows little of these things.

Some things you should know:

– There is no cure for those infected with Hepatitis C.

– Alcohol does not kill hepatitis spores

– Equipment is not sterile by boiling it

– Lack of hygiene can lead to serious infections

– An ultrasonic cleaner does not sterilise

– Tattooing at home is NEVER an optimal working environment.

There is the risk of transfer of pathogenic micro-organisms from one person to another by indirect contact, ie; through un-sterile equipment. This is called cross contamination. Re usable equipment must be sterilised in an autoclave, current UK regulations call for pre stage vacuum autoclaves, amateur home tattooists can seldom afford to invest in this expensive equipment costing several thousand pounds, required for proper sterilization.

Here is a list of some of the diseases that you could be infected with by the use of un-sterilised equipment used to tattoo you with & poor or non existent cross contamination & infection control procedures:


Cytomegalovirus, Creutfeldts-Jakob,

EbsteinBarrvirus, Parvovirus, Syfilis Brucellose, Salmonellose,

Yersinose, Toxoplasmose, Leishmaniasis

Trypanosomiasis, Babesiose.

Viral Infections, Allergic reactions, and other Skin Disorders.

These are just some of the risks of getting a tattoo from an unregistered amateur tattooist working illegally from home.

Think before you ink!

These days, tattoos are more popular than ever. But the tattoo is there for the rest of your life so it’s worth thinking it over properly before you decide to get a tattoo.
If you have decided that you really want a tattoo, then take the time to choose the studio and design properly.
Be critical of choice of tattoo artist.

Do you really want a tattoo?

Laser removal is not an easy or cheap option if you repent. Think carefully about your design, is it something you can live with for the REST OF YOUR LIFE?!

Do not get a tattoo when you are pregnant.
Be honest with your tattooist about your health condition when asked, a tattoo is not worth risking your‘s or anyone else’s health for!

Choosing a tattooist

It is important that you choose the right tattoo artist for the job you want done. Although the studio is registered & approved it is not certain that they are good at everything.
Do a thorough study on the tattoo artists that are going to mark you for life.
There are no regulations on being a bad tattoo artist so the choice is yours!
As long as there are customers who are willing to pay there will always be bad tattooists!
Be quality-conscious!
Look around the studio, is it clean and tidy? You will see that the equipment to be used is in pre-sterilized packages until you get tattooed, the tattooist will be happy to show you, if not, walk away!
Ask if you have any questions….the most stupid question is the one you don’t ask!

A general rule of thumb is ‘good tattoos aren’t cheap & cheap tattoos aren’t good’
Quality costs. You are not “lucky” if you get a cheap tattoo. The result will be cheap as well. Pay what it costs for a good result!
You only have one skin, surely you want the best tattoo art you can possibly get for it?!

Check photos of work the tattooists have done, not just one, but lots of them.
Be sure the tattooist claiming the work actually DID the work…many amateur illegal tattooists have no problem with stealing images of the work of professional tattooists, loading it on their website or Facebook page & claiming it as their own!
Are the outlines crisp clean & straight? Is the colour solid & patch free? Is the shading smooth & even? Are the shadows & highlights where they should be? Does the placement ‘look right’ on the body?

Correcting the errors that are often made by the inexpert, untrained tattooist is not always so easy, and it’s not always possible that a cover-up will work or is even practical. If you have bad scarring in the tattoo, this will always show through any cover up.

Laser removal is not always an option. If the inexpert tattooist has gone too deep the laser can not remove the colour pigments. It does not remove the scaring from poorly executed tattoos & it’s expensive.
There are reports of amateurs in Milton Keynes offering laser tattoo removal from their homes using cheap laser machines bought on line from China!
It is best to make the right choice from the start!

Cheap tattoo equipment is unfortunately easily available online. But do not make the mistake of thinking that anyone with a tattoo machine is good at tattooing. If the proper techniques have not been learned, poorly executed tattoos, full of scarring is the likely outcome, at best.
At worst, an incurable & life threatening disease could be the very high price paid for that ‘cheap tattoo’!



  1. The letter for the sheffield tattoo convention was very apt and as someone in the industry i feel the same. But also feel gutted that most professional tattooist are trying there best to promote appentiships and trying to stop people tattooing from home and opening shops when they have no experience or talent. we are already banging our heads against a brick wall with the industry being saturated with tattoo shops opening on every corner now we have celebrities learning to tattoo in a couple of weeks then judging at conventions. some well known tattooist should be as ashamed as i am disgusted.


  2. I have to agree with everything you say here. From choosing an artist over a tattooist to using their toilet. IF you gonna have ink done you have to remember… IT DOESN”T WASH OFF! So therefor make sure you pick something you REALLY LOVE and then do research as to whom is going to do the work for you. Ask around, ask friends, ask to see portfolio’s. It’s your body and what you have done YOU have to live with for as long as you have that body. Nothing worse than getting ink and after a week you hate it or you see something else you would have rather had done…. SERIOUSLY!


  3. Some good information in there, and some stuff I wish I had read before getting my tattoo done! I actually thought alcohol would kill everything, bit scary to find out hepatitis is resistant to it. Nice blog post anyway, cheers.


    1. Um… pass? I’d recommend speaking to the manufacturer of the machine, they’ll know what’s wrong with it. I don’t really know many tattooers who offer laser removal, I’m afraid.


  4. Can someone please check out New Faze Portlaoise on facebook and tell me if it is good. Looks great to me but I know nothing about tatoos. Thanks if you take the time. I am planning on buying myson a tatoo for his 18th bday, his idea, and want to make sure I go somewhere good.


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