Tattoo Parlor Walk-in Etiquette

Tattoo Parlor Walk-in Etiquette

You’re wandering down the street and spot a glowing TATTOO sign — how can you be your best self?

Tattoodo is your number one destination for everything tattoos — finding a shop, preparing for your first tattoo, learning more about the tattoo community. Our guides are meant as a toolkit to help you be the best client and learn how to work with your tattoo artist to create the tattoo of your dreams. Remember: No matter what you read on the internet, your artist’s advice should be considered the gold standard.

There are a ton of reasons to get a same-day banger tattoo — you’re on a trip with your buddies and you want to commemorate the magic, your homegirl is getting married and those bestie tattoos are way overdue, there’s a fancy one-day flash sale at your favorite shop, or you just fucking feel like getting a tattoo. Regardless of the many storied reasons, here are some ways you can be the best same-day client.

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 things: 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 (LINK).

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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Getting a tattoo on the fly is super fun — it’s exciting and energizing, and it’s a great way to spend a day with an artist you respect. Knowing the ropes and best walk-in etiquette will help you be the best client, and build an ongoing relationship with that artist and that shop.

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