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3 Reasons You Should ALWAYS Get Tattooed by a Professional

Wednesday, January 28th 2015. | Tattoo basics

The rate at which the public is getting tattooed has risen rather astoundingly over the past couple decades. In the United States, more than 1 in 5 people have at least one tattoo, and that statistic increases to 40% of the population in the 18-35 age group. And of course, with higher demand for the art, there is without a doubt a large supply of tattoo artists and shops, with varying degrees of talent, style, and skill, which can accommodate your permanent body art needs. Need another statistic? There are over 20,000 documented tattoo shops in the U.S. alone! That’s a lot of ink.

And yet, many out there are still getting the “homie hook-up” from friends or friends of friends who are tattooing out of their homes. It’s cheap, so it must be a bargain, right? Not necessarily; many of the individuals performing these in-home tattoos lack the proper training in how to apply the tattoo, and the results can be…well, less than par.

Having a regrettably permanent mistake etched onto your skin isn’t the only consequence of not going to a professional shop for your tattoo design. Below are three very good reasons why you should ALWAYS get tattooed by a professional—no matter how good your friend says that he/she is!

#1: A Home is Rarely a Sterile Environment

Some tattoo artists who have received proper training and have worked in the field for a while opt to create their own in-home tattoo studio, which follows the regulations and requirements of their county, state, and country to be in operation if their location allows this as a legal option.

However, I’m guessing that Billy down the street, working out of his garage, isn’t even aware of what those regulations are, let alone implementing them in his home set-up.

The most important thing when getting a tattoo, above all else, is that it is performed in a sterile environment, with sterile tools and one-time-use equipment that minimizes, if not completely eliminates, the risk of illness and contamination. Tattoos deal with blood and perforation of the skin; if someone hasn’t been trained in how to prevent cross-contamination, they can put their client at risk for a slew of bloodborne illnesses. These include staph infection, all forms of hepatitis, and even HIV/AIDS. It’s not uncommon for those who aren’t aware of these dangers to reuse needles, reuse tattoo tubes without sterilizing them in a medical-use autoclave, or not use gloves.

Not only that, but someone’s home itself is often not the most sterile environment, even with proper cross-contamination precautions taken. There’s pet dander, dust, carpet (which can be penetrated by blood), and other adverse conditions. Think about it this way: you wouldn’t have your dentist fill a cavity in your home, would you? Yeah, me neither.

#2: A Professional Shop is Made for Tattooing

Artistically, a home, basement, garage, etc. may not be artistically welcoming for the application of a tattoo, either. Tattoo shops are literally built for tattooing. They always include easily reachable trash and disposal of supplies, floors and furniture that are easily sterilized after each tattoo, good lighting, and—most of all—a quiet environment where the tattoo artist can concentrate on the job at hand.

Think of your own home. Unless you’re an artist, it’s unlikely that you have bright light that simulates daylight; you’re more likely to have slightly dimmer lights that would undoubtedly cast shadows over a tattoo-in-progress. Is your home quiet? Kids running around and playing, a dog sniffing around and getting curious, or a spouse watching a loud movie, can be very distracting and will not be present in a professional tattoo facility.

Tattoos are permanent, and great care must be taken that the artist is able to concentrate and focus on making the best design on your body possible, and the right environment is crucial to this.

#3: You Get What You Pay For

The main draw to getting a tattoo from someone who isn’t a professional is cost. In-home tattooists don’t have to pay any money to a shop or for booth rental, and can charge less for their work. It’s worth mentioning again that many also don’t have the skill level necessary to charge more for their tattoos—they are almost always amateur artists who are either learning the self-taught way, enjoy tattooing as a hobby, or who are looking to make a quick dollar.

Professional tattoo artists labor for years to learn their craft, and then more years honing their artistic skills and tattoo technique. They spent many, many hours at the drawing table, learning how to control the muscles in their hand and how to draw the designs that are in-demand with customers. A mentor likely sat with them as they selected the perfect tattoo machines and pigments that would give them maximum efficiency at their job. They charge rates for their work that they can make a living from because they spent years advancing in their profession. They earned the right to charge what they do, and in exchange, the client will get a beautiful piece of permanent art that they will cherish for years to come.

The amateur tattoo artist has nothing on the professional, even if they have been trained in cross-contamination prevention. The amateur guesses at which machines they should purchase, often not knowing the difference between them or how to tune them, and usually buys what’s cheapest. They often only know what they’ve seen when getting their own tattoos or what they’ve read on the Internet, and have no guided experience in the actual experience of how to tattoo. There’s a lot of guesswork involved for what works and what doesn’t, and the result as they improve is a bunch of unsatisfied customers with discounted tattoos. It’s possible for the self-taught tattooist to become a professional, but it takes years more time and money lost on their end for them to come to that level than one who has treated tattooing like the real profession that it is. Remember, you do get what you pay for, and it may not always be worth it to get that bargain tattoo on you for the rest of your life!


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