Home based tattooing is becoming more popular than ever. Many artists like it because they don’t have to worry about the overhead costs of renting a space or working in a tattoo studio and customers like it because it’s less expensive. While the money savings may be tempting, often people don’t know the dangers they are potentially putting themselves in by getting a home based tattoo.
More often than not the people you’ll find tattooing out of their homes are far from professional. They’re generally self-taught from videos found online and do not fully understand the mechanics behind the art of tattooing. These untrained artists are often called Tattoo Scratchers. This may sound harmless but Tattoo Scratchers are unlikely to practice routine sterile, hygienic procedures and often cut corners to save money by reusing needles that have only been sanitized in alcohol or bleach. A professional studio is more likely to use new needles and they often autoclave their equipment. An autoclave uses high pressure and high temperatures to kill bacteria and viruses. Bacteria and viruses are some of the toughest organisms on earth and it can take much more than alcohol or bleach to eliminate them.
You’re Risking More Than a Bad Tattoo
More serious than the chance of getting a poorly done tattoo, is the risk of blood borne diseases and infection. When getting a tattoo, the skin is broken which greatly increases the chance infection as well as other complications. If the equipment used to apply a tattoo is not properly sterilized it can be contaminated by infected blood, you are in danger of having any number of diseases including tetanus, HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B passed on to you. Like a tattoo, these diseases are irreversible.
What Can You Do? …Don’t Bargain Shop for Your Tattoo
The money you could save from using a home based tattoo artist is not worth the risk. Always go to a reputable tattoo studio or salon and even then, it’s still important to do your homework. Below are some tips to help keep you safe.
- Research Online – Reputable tattoo shops and studios will more than likely have several reviews from previous customers. If the majority of the reviews are positive, that’s obviously a good sign. A professional Web site is also a good sign that they are able to adequately cover costs and don’t mind being the general public accessing their information.
- Visit the Shop – Visit the tattoo shop or studio and ask to speak with the tattoo artist you are interested in. Take some time to check out their portfolio. Dont worry about thinking you might offend them by asking questions. Professional tattoo artists are more than happy to show you their body of work and if they don’t like answering your questions you might not want to work with them.
- Verify Their Autoclave Certificate – An autoclave is an electric sterilization unit that resembles a steel pressure cooker. It is used by doctors to sterilize medical equipment. Ask if the artist possesses a recent autoclave certificate that shows that the unit is regularly tested and in use by the operators of the business.
- Ask About Cleanliness – Be sure to ask about their training in safe and hygienic practices, their experience etc.
All of this doesn’t mean that every single home based tattoo artist is not worth their salt. There are plenty of good artists working from home. The best thing you can do is research, get referrals and ask questions about anything that concerns you. Remember a tattoo is forever so you should take your time and do it right!
About the Authors: Trip Alba and Nicole Bodem have written numerous press releases and featured articles for various online and print media outlets. They are regular contributors to the Tat2X Tattoo Culture and Style Blog.