Signs to look for in a dangerous Tattoo Shop

Insider truths

Before I became a studio owner for Tattoo JoJo & Studio, I tatted in a few other shops & I remember witnessing some crazy shit. Things that made me question why I was even in that shop to begin with. Some of these tattoo artists out there are claiming to be a “professional” tattoo artist, just because they can tattoo. I’m sorry, but if they can’t maintain a clean environment & stay sterile, then they are by far a professional & that’s the truth! I’ve seen some dope ass artists put out some AMAZING work & I would think some shit like ‘Yes, that’s my fuckin artist’, until I realized how careless & lazy they really were. I instantly would feel bad for the client sitting in their chair & a part of me would be irritated at the client for allowing that artist to even touch their skin.

I knew though that I couldn’t blame the client. If they’re not a tattoo artist themselves, then they really don’t know much about the tattoo industry. I quickly figured this out just by talking to certain clients & listening to some of their past tattoo experiences. Some of the shit I would hear would just amaze me. A few times I have even been asked “why do you bag everything?”. Well, because I don’t want to give you fuckin AIDS! Any time I hear this from a client that’s already been tatted before by another tattoo artist, I already know the dangers they were put in while receiving that tattoo. I feel it’s my responsibility to feed their brain with knowledge, by teaching them some of the things every tattoo artist & shop should be doing & shouldn’t be doing.

Remember, anybody can open up a fuckin tattoo studio. I’ve worked for a couple tattoo shop owners & they had no clue on how to tattoo or the importance of sanitation. They just would find decent tattoo artists who they thought were good & bring them onto the team without first checking to see if they knew how to properly set up, while remaining sterile at all times. I guess some owners really wouldn’t know what to look for, when they’ve never tatted a day in their life, or feel the need to learn beyond their title. It shocks me how some of these shops are still up & running & haven’t been reported to the health department yet!

Ok, enough of my rambling…

Here are the danger signs to look for when choosing your next tattoo studio/ tattoo artist. If you’re that tattoo artist who does these dangerous things, then maybe reading this will help you to change your ways!

They use no clip cord cover/sleeve

I’m gonna start with this one first because this is one of my biggest pet peeves! The clip cord connects the tattoo machine to the power supply. I see so many tattoo artists, even in shops, not covering their cords with a plastic cord cover/sleeve. This is one of the most disgusting things they could do. EVERY tattoo artist should put one on before they tattoo & change it out in between each client. However, I’ve seen some tattoo artist leave them on for months throughout a period of time, or not even put one on at all. I guess the guys out there leaving them on for months are thinking they don’t need to change it out because it’s still protecting their cord! The sleeve isn’t made to just protect their cord, but the client as well. I like to think of these cord covers as condoms! They kind of remind me

of one whenever I slide one on LOL Always an uncomfortable feeling whenever a guy is watching me put one on! HAHA Anyways, sometimes the cord will rub against the client’s tattoo, especially on bigger pieces. Now the cord has become infected with germs & when they go to tattoo another person, all they are doing is giving them whatever that person may have had! An easy way to spread AIDS or some other type of disease like hepatitis. So always make sure they have a cord cover on & if they do, make sure it’s not dirty with blood or ink!

They don’t wrap their tattoo machines, squirt bottles, ink bottles, arm rest, etc.

Just like their clip cord, they should be covering their tattoo machine, squirt bottles, ink bottles & anything else they may need to touch with a plastic baggy. I threw ink bottles in because I know some tattoo artist like to leave their ink bottles on their work station. I honestly don’t find this too sanitary. I like to keep my ink bottles away from my work station, so I don’t bother wrapping them. If I’m pouring more ink, I’ll actually just take my gloves off. Saran wrap can also be used to cover things as well. I find using saran wrap for furniture is easiest for me.

They don’t display their Blood Borne Pathogens Certificate

Rules & regulations are different from state to state. In the state of Indiana, a tattoo artist just needs to obtain a Blood Borne Pathogens Certificate. Always make sure your tattoo artist has one. At Tattoo JoJo & Studio, we actually hang ours in our booths. It’s a great place for clients to easily find it & gives them a sense of comfort. One thing you should do is make sure it’s up to date & isn’t expired.

They don’t change their gloves

I can’t tell you how many gloves I go through for each client. If I need to pour more ink, grab a different size needle, grab more paper towels, the dirty gloves are coming off & getting pitched in the trash & a fresh pair are coming out. I am always spending money on gloves, but I would rather spend the money than risk infecting someone. One thing I’ve seen some artists do is grab ink bottles, numbing agents, etc. with dirty gloves! So, one good thing you could look for in a studio is how their bottles look. If they appear to be dirty, maybe you should consider going someplace else. Who knows how many people’s germs have been all over them!

They don't wear gloves

This is just fuckin disgusting & should never be done. I have seen people go live on Facebook getting a tattoo & their tattoo artist wouldn't have any gloves on. If that's you, you're a disgrace! NOBODY should ever be ok with this.

They don’t use pre-packaged needles or disposable cartridges

Do I really need to explain this one?! I shouldn’t have to, but I feel some people still need to hear this. No tattoo artist should EVER use dirty needles! If they can’t open the needle from a package in front of you, then maybe you should get the hell out! You have every right to see & know where they are coming from. And if you’re a tattoo artist reading this, don’t ever let the client talk you into using the same needle that was used on their sister or partner! Crazy I have to say this, but I have had clients say things like “oh you don’t have to change the needle or set up again, I know their clean”. The shit I hear sometimes just fuckin blows my mind!

They don’t use distilled water

Sometimes a tattoo artist may need to use a rinse cup. They should always use distilled water instead of tap water. Distilled water helps to prevent bacteria. If you see them filling their cup up at the sink, ask them why they’re not using distilled!

There is no autoclave

I’m more new school & try to stay trending in the tattoo industry. I like to use disposables. However, some artist out there are old school & prefer to use metal tubes. Nothing wrong with that, but if they do use the metal reusable tubes, don’t be afraid to ask them to see their autoclave. An autoclave is a machine that you can find in hospitals. They are powerful machines that sterilize medical & piercing instruments, as well as tattoo tubes.

Tattoo Artist doesn’t use disinfectants

Every tattoo shop should use some type of medical grade disinfectant. We love to use Madacide & Cavicide. It is used to disinfect hard, non-porous, environmental surfaces, equipment & instruments. It kills Influenza A, HIV, Hepatitis A, B & C, MRSA, VRE & SARS. Clorox & Lysol wipes will NOT do the job.

There are no sharps containers

You should always see a sharps container in the tattoo artists booth or room. Sharps containers are where the tattoo artist should dispose of all dirty needles. They should NEVER go into the trash, because the needle/ cartridge could easily poke whoever is

taking the trash out. I remember arguing one time with another tattoo artist where cartridges should go. He didn’t like that I was putting them in the sharps container & insisted that I put them in the trash can. This guy dated the owner & because he was dating the boss bitch, I guess that made him feel like he was in charge of shit LOL He thought that putting cartridges in the sharps container would fill it up a lot quicker & they would have to buy another one. Well, let me just say, sharps containers really aren’t that expensive! Cartridges are pretty much the same as your basic old school needles, just constructed differently. If it can stick someone, it belongs in that red box!

Tattoo shop is trashy

No tattoo shop should ever be trashy. If their trash is overflowing, floors clearly haven’t been mopped or swept, shit laying around… they obviously don’t care about the place, so why would they care about you?! There’s been a few times I’ve talked to clients & they would tell me about a horrible experience they had at another shop. They would say things like “I got it from this ghetto small shop in Gary/Lake Station, IN”. People, it doesn’t matter which city you get it in! I could open up a tattoo studio in Gary, IN & still make the place look presentable. I always make sure to invest back into the studio. I want a clean environment, nice furniture & a studio where clients can feel comfortable. That shit matters to me & it should matter to other owners & artists, but sadly that’s not always the case.

They don’t use barrier film

Barrier film also helps to prevent cross contamination. They pretty much work like saran

wrap & the plastic bags to protect things, only they have a sticky side. I like to stick one on my Critical power supply & light. They are also great to stick on electronics like your phone or iPad. Sometimes the tattoo artist may need to use their iPad for a reference pic, change the music, or answer an important call from their phone… However, I try to avoid all calls during my tattoo sessions, but these barrier films really come in handy.

They offer no aftercare or don’t even go over aftercare instructions

It’s important for every tattoo artist to educate their client & go over all aftercare instructions. Every tattoo artist is different & we all have our own preference. I always tell people to listen to “their” artist, because they know what works best for their style of tattooing. If one tattoo artist tells you to just use lotion, then just use lotion for that piece. If another artist tells you to do something else, then you should appreciate their work & respect their wishes. They know what’s best for healing that specific tattoo… at least they should! I love to use a second skin wrap. That shit makes the tattoo heal so nicely & speeds up the healing time. It also helps to keep the tattoo clean, while allowing it to breathe. Just makes life so much easier.

There is no hand-washing station or sanitizer throughout the shop

Tattoo artists should be washing & sanitizing their hands before & after each tattoo. I also like to wash my hands randomly throughout the day. Before we even opened up Tattoo JoJo & Studio, I made sure they installed a sink where handwashing can take place. I don’t know about you, but I love clean hands!

Tattoo Artist has poor hygiene

I don’t know how anybody could allow a tattoo artist to tattoo them that appears to be dirty or foul! If your tattoo artist looks like they haven’t bathed in days & they smell so bad of BO, then turn your ass around & walk out that door. I worked with a tattoo artist who always smelled so bad of BO & shit breath! I mean some days were so bad, that even the staff had to tell him to go shower. Dude would come in with crusty socks! I remember feeling so bad for any client that had to sit through that torture, because no exaggeration, you could smell him from afar! All I gotta say is just never put yourself in that situation. If they can’t take care of themselves, what makes you think they will safely take care of you!?

Be smart when getting ink

I hope that writing this will help some of you all in finding the next studio you would love to try out. My intentions aren’t to direct you to Tattoo JoJo & Studio, though that would be nice! However, I know I’m not always the perfect artist for everyone & I’m ok with that, we all have our own style. I just wanna educate the ones that have no clue in what to look for whenever their shopping for a new tattoo studio. You’re tattoo artist should treat every session like the client has a disease… with caution.

And if you’re that lazy, dirty, & unsafe artist… well hopefully this will open up your fuckin eyes & get you to act right! I’m sure this blog is gonna piss some shop owners & tattoo artists off… I really don’t care LOL at least I didn’t say no names! 😉Be thankful for that.

Tattoo JoJo & Studio


65 W 112th Ave. Crown Point, IN

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