Do I want to sit with this person long enough to be tattooed?
Artist's portfolio: Tattoos are works of art and should be rendered by an artist. Ask to see the portfolios of several tattoo artists before choosing one for your design. Talk directly to the artist and be sure they can illustrate exactly what you're going to be displaying for the rest of your life. A really good artist can create anything you can imagine and will appreciate the opportunity to express themselves on your canvas (skin).
The Studio: Is this a place you would let your Mother be tattooed?
Be discriminating when deciding about the cleanliness and quality of the establishment you are choosing for a tattoo. As you look around, do you feel the studio owner is taking an interest in providing a clean environment for their clients? Specifically ask about the way needles and colors are prepared and brought to you. Have them explain how these contaminated items are disposed of. Finally, make sure you are comfortable with the level of "general care" being used while the artist sets up for your tattoo.
Smooth Fx Custom Tattooing, since 1988 has used new sterilized needles for each and every client.
Why you should care: The tattoo needle will cause a little blood to be shed. As you know bacteria and viruses can spread when contaminated needles are used by more than one person.
Today, most studios will usually use new needles. However, if their practice is to clean, sterilize and reuse needles, ask to have a new one; be willing to pay extra for it. If they don't offer you this option, leave. New packages don't always mean new needles. Feel free to ask any question you have with regard to this. If the artist is elusive in their answers, leave.
Why we have never reused needles: There is the obvious health reason, but beyond this there are quality reasons as well. Even if sterilizing a used needle brings a biologically safe needle to you, it is the quality of the needle which should cause you to ask for a new one. As a needle is being used, the quality of the needle changes. Eventually these needles will not push much color and cause unnecessary skin trauma. A new needle gives each client a fresh start.
Unwrapping a needle from a sterile, sealed packet doesn't ensure the needle is new. This only means it was bagged. Ask any question you have on this. Ask to see the indicators on the needle packet which shows it has been sterilized. The studio should have what seems like a large inventory of new needles and an obvious sharps disposal container for old ones.
Fresh colors: Colors come from can be made from inks or preferably pure pigment sources. We use pure pigments. Pigments seem to be much superior if you want bold coloring, and longer lasting qualities. Make sure your color comes from a bottle which is poured into a small container specifically for your tattoo. Just as you don't want to share needles, you don't want to share colors. All color which remains after a tattoo has been completed, should be thrown away.
Gloves: While preparing for your tattoo and during the procedure, the artist should wear the same kind of surgical gloves worn by a physician during an exam. If the artist needs to touch any bottle which is not bagged, or any unprotected item, the gloves should be removed and changed! This helps to maintain a clean environment and is essential for everyone's welfare. If you are Latex Intolerant, they should have non-latex gloves on site.