$50 to $300 per hour for a custom tattoo + tip
These days, whether you’re in a big city, small town, the suburbs, or a shopping mall, it’s pretty easy to find a tattoo studio, as the popularity of body art as a form of personal expression soars. But if you’re thinking about getting some ink, you should also be asking some serious questions. How can you tell a good studio from one that’s not so good, or a skilled tattoo artist from a rank beginner? Is it going to hurt? And most of all, what will it cost?
Tattooing is regulated by city, state, and county laws and in most cases, tattoo artists must be licensed and the shops must meet strict health department standards. As you search for your favorite tattoo artist, check out a variety of studios. Usually, employees or the owner are happy to give you a tour, and explain the safety and health laws and how they follow them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that, as “personal service workers,” tattoo artists adhere to the following safety procedures:
Single-use, Disposable Needles And Razors
Immediately prior to your tattoo, insist that you see your tattoo artist remove new needles, razors, and tube or ink set-up from a sealed envelope. This reduces the likelihood that serious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C are transferred between customers and tattooists.
Safe Disposal Of Needles And Razors
Used needles and razors should be disposed of in a special, biohazard-labeled, disposable container.
Reputable studios use an autoclave to sterilize their non-disposable equipment. Most owners and artists will mention this on your first visit.
Tattoo artists must wear disposable surgical gloves; a new pair for each new customer. Hands should be washed before putting on gloves and after removing them.
Clean Work Areas
Take a close look at the work stations for the tattoo artists. All surfaces (chairs, tables, equipment) should be sparkling, and frequently cleaned with disinfectant, similar to a doctor’s office.
Ink can become contaminated with blood while you’re getting your tattoo. Your tattoo specialist must use fresh ink for each new customer. Fresh ink is poured into small plastic cups prior to your tattoo session. (Some studios may use small bottles or packets of ink). If your artist needs to replenish the ink cups, gloves should be removed prior to refilling, and new gloves should be put on.
Many tattooists belong to the Alliance of Professional Tattoists, Inc., a non-profit educational organization founded in 1992 to promote health and safety in the tattoo business. Whether they’re members or not, all tattooists should follow the safety guidelines mentioned above, and on the APT website.