A practice so ancient and meaningful, once widely shamed in the Western world, now has become somewhat of a commonplace practice in North America. With 36% of US citizens having at least one tattoo in 2020, it’s no wonder that scams in the ink industry have risen in occurrence as well.   

A tattoo artist in Cambridge, Ontario became the subject of TikTok’s drama as went viral. Several customers shared their negative experiences with the artist, Lindsay Joseph, from extremely high pricing and design fees to unsatisfactory work.   

As getting your first tattoo can be intimidating, here are some tips to ensure your tattoo experience is positive from start to finish:  

1) Do your research  

This is especially important if it is your first tattoo. If you have a design in mind, take the time to think about what kind of tattoo style you would like for it to be in. Tattoos take on various styles, such as American traditional, watercolor or linework.  Take time to investigate local artists that have your desired style, and whether they are specialized in your preferred color (black and grey or colour). 

2) Ask about pricing  

From consultation to deposit to the final pricing, it is important for both sides of the tattoo transaction to be always communicating. You do not want to be caught by surprise by the final price when your piece is done.   

3) Learn about tipping  

Each tattoo shop has their own policy about tipping. Some shops do not require you to tip the artists because it is already included in the pricing, while others appreciate tips. This is important to keep in mind when thinking about the final cost of your tattoo.  

4) Think about safety  

Personal boundaries and standards of care are also important to consider when getting a tattoo. If you are a trans and/or gender-nonconforming individual for example, it is likely you would prefer an artist who respects your pronouns and personal body boundaries. Make sure to look into the artist or tattoo shop you are considering. Ask yourself important questions like: Are they a safe space for me? Do they tattoo a wide variety of people? Is this shop accessible for me? Additionally, only the part of your body specifically being tattooed needs to be exposed, and you are welcome to ask for privacy screens if needed.  

5) Do not settle  

Walk into your appointment with a clear understanding of what you want. If you are getting a custom piece, your vision and your tattoo artist’s stencil may not always match up. If the tattoo shop allows you to bring a guest (always ask in advance), ask your buddy for their perspective and to speak up for you if you do not feel comfortable doing so. If you are going alone, remember to bring a picture or printed-out copy of your design to compare with the artist.  

Your tattoo artist should be more than happy to address all your questions and concerns, especially if you make them aware this is your first time getting inked. Take your time planning and researching your piece and communicate with your artist on any of your strict boundaries, and you’re sure to end up with an artwork you’ll love forever.