Tattoo walk-in etiquette

Here are tips on how to make your tattoo experience a good one

1. Call ahead, call ahead, call ahead
It’s not always possible — maybe you’re standing outside the shop right now and want the answer now — but if you do find you have some planning time, call the shop. Calling the shop helps a few thing s: you can see how busy they are, you can see if there’s a better time or day to do a walk-in, you can see if they even take walk-ins. Calling ahead will also help you plan for how much money to take out of that ATM

2. Flash is your friend.
It’s not unheard of or unusual for someone to walk into a shop with an original idea, explain that original idea to one of the artists, have that artist draw it up, and get that unique piece of art that same exact day — but it is pretty unlikely. Instead, take your time going through each artist’s portfolio or flash sheets, and choose your art that way. There’s nothing wrong with wandering into a shop and pointing at what’s on the wall — “I want THAT one!” — in fact, that’s part of the thrill.

3. Don’t haggle about the price
Okay, don’t ever do this. But certainly don’t do this over some flash. Your artist will know exactly what to charge for that tattoo flash — they’ve done it before, over and over. Go with the price given to you, and remember to tip (link). Sometimes you’ll be charged the usual hourly rate for flash, sometimes you’ll be charged a flat rate. It’s up to your artist and to the shop, so return to #1 — call ahead.

4. Don’t bring an entourage
If you are traveling with a pack of humans and you all want tattoos, try to give the shop some warning. If it’s spur of the moment, then just make sure you all don’t crowd the parlor. Most shops are pretty small, with all the spare room for artists to work. Hanging out is okay, just be smart and kind about it — go for a walk, wait outside if possible. If the parlor has a shop manager, ask if it’s okay to leave your number with them and come back in pairs later. Basically, think about the space around you: would you want a pack of people gathered tightly around you while you worked your job?

5. Don’t ask to edit the flash

Asking for specific colors is one thing, but don’t ask for the image to be edited. Part of what makes a walk-in work is that the art is already done, so editing the art is a big no-no. Some artists will have variations on a theme, or variations on a single image, so let your artist lead. If you don’t see something you like, then that artist and their flash isn’t the right fit for you. Don’t try to shoehorn the artist into your vision.

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