This is very important, because a beautiful tattoo isn’t so great if it gets infected and gets ruined or you get a disease from poor cleanliness of a shop. A tattoo is pretty much a medical procedure, as it involves contact with blood, contaminated needles, and other medical waste. Every tattoo shop should be as clean and professional as a doctors office.
Some shops cater to a crowd that doesn’t care or isn’t informed, and the artists they employ fall under the same category. Some people that work in these shops are just tattooists, who are people who can tattoo, but know nothing of art, and have very little creativity and drawing ability. These tattooists might not be the people you want tattooing you with a permanent piece of art. Certain slang in tattooing is really looked down upon, like calling a tattoo shop a “parlor” or a tattoo machine a “gun”. “Drilling” isn’t what a good shop does, and these terms are an indication of a shop you might like to stay away from.
A shop should be more than just clean and have tattoo artists with talent. The whole atmosphere should be customer friendly and inviting. Too many shops use intimidation to move threw customers at a quick pace and make more money. Some ways they do this is by playing loud music or looking intimidating themselves. A good shop should have non-abrasive music on, should have clean and presentable artists, nothing offensive on the walls, and clearly stated rules in plain view. Most shops do not allow any children under 18 in their doors, and this is a good practice. Artists should be able to concentrate on their job, and not having yelling kids or crying babies.
There should be a section devoted to the tattooing, apart from the “waiting room”. This tattooing part should have a tile floor that can be sterilized when needed. There should be nothing allowed on the floors or counters, like purses or jackets as it’s a contamination risk. There should be no food or smoking allowed in this part. A water bottle might be needed, but should not come in contact with the artists counter or setup. Ask for a place to put it if needed.
The waiting room should have the portfolios in plain view, business cards, and magazines to look through. It should be comfortable, because tattooing isn’t quick, and you might have to wait for a while.
The bathroom should be incredibly clean also. Shops that have bathrooms in poor condition cannot be too concerned with the health of their customers.
The shop should have a receptionist or someone that can talk to you when you come in. They should be able to direct you to the portfolios, answer questions about their artists, make appointments, sell gift certificates, etc. If you are ignored when walking into a shop, take that as an indication of how they will treat you every other step of the way. Tattooing is a business, and customers need to be treated well.