The time has come for you to get your first or next tattoo. Now comes the tough part – deciding upon where to go to get it done in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). This can be a challenge given that it is home to dozens of shops in and around your specific community. We have already provided advice on How to Pick a Tattoo Shop in Toronto, but as someone who prides themselves in being thorough, you want to narrow down your selection even further, to consider exactly which tattooist you should work with. Your diligence is applaudable, because you are entrusting this person to put a permanent work of art on your body. This has led you to ask an important question – how to pick a tattoo artist in Toronto? Below is a breakdown of the key criteria to consider before booking a consultation with a professional tattooist near you.
6 Things to Look for When Deciding Which Toronto Tattoo Artist is Right for You
They Work from a Reputable Studio
There are a number of tattoo artists that work from home and offer (via Craigslist Toronto, etc.) low rates, given that they don’t have to share client payments with a studio. You know what else they don’t share? Accountable adherence to health and safety standards nor accountability for quality of work. They also won’t have any sort of commercial liability insurance. They may also have the Gimp from Pulp Fiction locked up in the basement and awaiting your arrival. Never put your faith in a tattooist who doesn’t work from a professional and reputable studio.
Shop Reviews that Reference the Artist
In this guide for How to Pick a Tattoo Shop, readers are instructed to reference Google reviews. While these reviews are for the shop itself, most clients make specific references to the tattooists who have done their tattoos. This provides you with valuable insight. Cross reference the names of the artists from a tattoo shop’s portfolio (see below) and then look for their respective names in the Google reviews. Within, you will gain insight into an artist’s quality of work in addition to the type of experience they provide. If the tattooist is friendly and funny, or stoic and strictly professional, or otherwise, the reviews will state so. When you uncover consistent notes about an individual tattooist, you can better identify the experience you prefer. This will help you form a more educated opinion about an artist and whether or not they are a good match for you.
Review Artist’s Shop Portfolio
This is a given. Take your time to look through a candidate artist’s portfolio on the tattoo shop’s website and within the studio if you have the opportunity to pay them a visit. Identify a tattooist who consistently works within designs and styles (i.e. American traditional, cartoon, etc.) that match the type of tattoo you want. For example, if you want a tattoo with deep black ink and sharp lines, perhaps an artist that specializes in color and shading is not the best match.
Review Artist’s Social Portfolio
A tattoo artist’s portfolio on a shop website is helpful, but it features what they shop wants you to see. For further insight, review a tattoo artist’s personal social media portfolios. Most professional tattooists have links to their personal social profiles on the employing shop’s website. That being said, a Google search for the tattooist’s name and occupation (i.e. “Jane Doe tattoo artist”) will uncover more. Reviewing their social profiles will help you better gauge their personality which is important given that you’ll be spending some quality time with them in their chair. Furthermore, their personal social profiles may showcase work that is too “edgy” for the employing studio’s website, but is right up your alley.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to those who have passed the grade on the criteria for how to pick a tattoo artist (thus far). Before committing, take a moment to get to know them. You can call ahead, or step into the shop as a “walk-in” and request a (free) consultation with an artist. If you have a clear idea of what you want to ask them and/or discuss they should be receptive. This person is putting their permanent work of art on your body, so they darn well should be open to open dialogue prior to payment of deposit.
No, you don’t need to go all “CSI” and inspect a candidate tattoo artist’s workstation with a blacklight and white gloves. However, you certainly have a right to walk through the studio to view artist stations. If you’re uneasy about doing this, tell shop staff that you recently checked out a few competitor studios, and were turned off by what you saw. This will pique the studio’s interest. From there they will be happy to show you artist workspaces and answer any questions you may have about equipment and safety standards. Confirm that workstations are clean, uncluttered, and without unnecessary objects on their table to contribute to contamination.
When you consider the criteria for how to pick a tattoo artist that we’ve laid out above, there’s really only one thing left to do. Book a consultation with confidence and peace of mind that Adrenaline Studios is the right place for YOU.