Selecting Your Artist


In a perfect world every tattoo artist would be a talented and experienced professional; the type of artist that tattoo enthusiasts wait months or even years to visit. Every tattoo she designed would be a masterpiece and each customer would leave the shop completed satisfied. Sadly we don’t live in such a perfect world. Like all professions, the tattoo industry has its share of bad apples. These "would be artists" usually mean well but end up causing more harm than good. Though most get weeded out by professional shops, a few manage to set up on their own. In order to avoid these bad artists and a tattoo disaster it is important that you learn a few ways to spot them.



Artist Portfolios

Almost all tattoo artists have a portfolio available for potential clients to review. These portfolios are available online or in the shop and consist of photos of successfully completed tattoos. If you stumble upon an artist with absolutely no portfolio you better start asking questions. Almost every tattoo artist, no matter how new, has at least one photo of a tattoo that they have completed. If the tattoo artist that you are interested in is unable to show you an example of any completed work, start backing away slowly. When a tattoo artist has no portfolio and is unable or unwilling to get one picture of a tattoo that they have completed then you should look elsewhere.


Also, you should state to look elsewhere if you find a tattoo artist with a reputable name, in a position where they are no longer producing work to a high quality. People in general experience numerous things with age or repetition. These thing may include, vision loss, strength or muscle loss, RSI, Demeanture, Alzheimer, Parkinsons disease or the shakes; all of which can affect your tattoo.


Another point to look out for when selecting an artist is their modesty. Generally speaking, tattoo artists can be cocky and possessive, and shovanistic. If they are anything like this, turn the other direction. These artists, are the sort that make claim to being the greatest thing on earth. You just know what sort of person you are in for, when you have to work with them. Take a glance at any tattoo reality show, and you have a good idea at what not to pick.


Our portfolio is available to visit online through the gallery link. As an artist and a mere mortal, I am a very modest person. I do not claim to be the best in the world at my job, rather, just to be good at it. There are certain things I am exceptionally good at, and other things I struggle with, just like every body else. I do not hesitate to recommend other artists, if I know they could do a better job than myself. In my experience, clients enjoy working with me, as I am brutally honest with them about everything from beginning to end. I believe that builds a layer of trust, and they can know and feel confident that I will always do the right thing by them. And I am sure most people see this in the way I pride myself on high morals and ethics and integrity.


Beware of Strange Advice or Methods

Many tattoo artists have their special quirks and methods but most are accepted and often well known. Most people who have gotten ink have heard about keeping tattoos out of the sun, not taking pain killers, taking pain killers, and more. When you come across a tattoo artist that you have never worked with before who is giving you strange directions be very wary.


These are only a handful of methods that are useful when sorting the bad tattoo artists from the hundreds of good tattoo artists. Using these methods can help you and those you know avoid tattoo disasters. In addition to these methods always use your own common sense and, when in doubt, go with your instincts. It is always better to reschedule an appointment than get stuck with a tattoo you may regret later.


Are you planning your first tattoo and looking to find a new artist because after visiting the first place you stumbled across, you are unhappy with their work? Regardless whether you are opting for a piece of flash off the wall, or desire a detailed custom piece, here are some helpful hints in finding a reputable shop with good artists.


Start your search on the internet with Google or Facebook. The internet is preferred as you aren’t limited to your local area, although you may have to drive a bit for an artist and shop you are comfortable with. As an added advantage, Flesh And Colour, is a mobile business that comes to you. Make a list of shops and start checking them out. Ask people you know who are tattooed, where they go and if they are satisfied with their artworks.


Visit the shops. There are some things you want to look for that you should NOT compromise on. Remember this is YOUR body and there are risks. Minimize them.


  • Ask to see the spore counts on the autoclave. The studio posts them on the wall. The shop should be checking the autoclave at least once a month. If they are unwilling to share this information, walk out. Alternatively, if they use disposables only, you do not need to ask this question. For your convenience and ours, Flesh and Colour uses only disposables.

  • Take a look around as it’s easy enough to tell if the shop is clean. Flesh and Colour pride themselves on working in a sterile environment. This is usually notable by the smell of bleach in our studio. However, if you are using our mobile service, you are required to provide a clean and sterile environment.

  • Has your artist taken a course designed for tattoo artists and pierces in the prevention of blood-borne pathogens? It should be displayed somewhere in her shop or portfolio.

  • In the tattooing area, furniture that comes into direct contact with a client should have a water proof barrier between the client and the surface that is changed between clients. This barrier is usually in the form of Glad Wrap.

  • Inks should be poured into individual cups before use and discarded after.

  • Needles should be opened in your presence. Are the needles single use only?

  • Speak with your tattoo artist. Are they someone you are comfortable with? You need to be able to communicate with them if something makes you uncomfortable; e.g. you feel sick, etc. Nothing is worse than going into a studio and talking to someone who acts like they are put out by you asking questions or behaves as if it is a chore to accommodate your requests. No tattoo artist should be too cool to answer your questions and address concerns.

  • Check out the portfolios that are on display. This will give you an idea of the work you can expect from the artist. Make sure his work meets your standards.

  • You don’t really want to pick the cheapest place. If a place seems a lot more affordable than every other shop you visit, they are bound to be cutting corners somewhere.

  • Ask about aftercare. How do they want you to take care of your tattoo? Some artists will tell you to use Vaseline or to wrap it in plastic wrap for an extended period. Basic first aid states these are bad ideas, as both run a high risk of trapping bacteria and providing a nice warm home to thrive. Common sense should tell you that an infected tattoo is a bad idea, especially when MSRA (antibiotic resistant staph) is very common.


Following the above list will go a long way to ensuring that you have done everything you can to not only prevent getting an inferior tattoo, but also to protect yourself against the health risks involved during the process.