Tattoo Considerations and Etiquette


I just got a tattoo that I’ve been planning for the past year, GIR and his pig from Invader Zim, and while I was under the needle for an hour and a half I was reminded of some of the things that people either don’t know or don’t think about when they’re getting tattoos. I know, I’m apparently stuck in the nineties or some sort of uber-geek hipster, whatever. I’ve been drawing on myself since I was eight, and I plan to cover up all my varicose veins with tattoos as I get older.

All that aside I wanted to just throw out a couple things when you are considering getting a tattoo. The days of getting drunk and waking up with a tattoo that says “Dude” don’t exist in Oregon. You have to be licensed and put in a lot of time before they let you get behind a needle professionally. The artists are not going to let some drunk idiot come in and get something done. Besides if you have had a lot to drink it causes excessive bleeding during the process and that is not a good thing.

Placement is everything. Girls, that tramp stamp may look great on your butt in your 20’s but think about how much attention you want to draw to that area when you hit your 40’s and on. Same thing goes for belly tattoos. Those cute dolphins circling your belly button will end up looking like whales if you decide to get pregnant, and they may end up staying that way. Also, if you plan on having any sort of normal employment facial tattoos are not a good idea.

Do some research and if you see something you like on a person ask them where they got their work done. Go check out different studios and check out their portfolios. Every artist is different and it’s best to find someone who’s style fits your design. Most people will do work from flash art but they don’t like it and you will probably get charged a higher rate because it’s kind of lame. If you do find someone you like don’t expect to be able to walk in and get something done that day. Sometimes there are cancellations, but usually you need to book in advance, especially if they’re good.

And last, negotiate the price ahead of time and figure out if it’s going to take one session or if you’ll need to do your piece in segments. Make sure to bring cash when you get your work done, and tip!!!!

I know I’m probably forgetting a few things but those are the basics. I highly recommend daveski at Oddball Tattoo Studios 2716 SE 21st Ave. just off of Clinton next to the Night Light. He’s an incredible artist, a complete sweetheart, and he’s really good at explaining the process as he goes. That’s his picture at the top.

12 Comments so far

  1. Kai (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 9:46 am

    Oops sorry, I meant “dolphins” on your belly.

  2. Annoid (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 9:55 am

    You can’t go edit the post to fix the spelling?

  3. Steph (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 10:04 am

    Oh man, I thought that it was only me and my crazy group of friends that were still into Zim! I’m just gonna cross my fingers that you post a picture of the tattoo somewhere, cause I’m dying to see it!

  4. Kai (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 10:06 am

    Woohoo I figured out how to fix it ANNOID. Seriously though, you need a new moniker. It comes across sort of aggro.

  5. dieselboi (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 10:15 am

    yeah, i’m working on my 3rd tattoo, scheduled for September. Got a question about tipping. If the artist you are working with owns the establishment, how should one tip? Even if they don’t own, what is suggested for a tip – 15%, 20%.
    I’m a fan of Paul @ Infinity.

  6. Kai (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 10:24 am


    I posted a picture of it on my blog I really wish Invader Zim would come back. It has some of the best writing and animation I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s one of those cartoons like Ren and Stimpy that has a lot of humor that hits at the adult level.

  7. Hula (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 10:26 am

    Anyone heard anything about the new studio @ ActivSpace up around 17th & Pettygrove/Quimby? Imperial Tattoo, I think? Been fantasizing about my next one for more than 8 months…

  8. Kai (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 10:28 am

    DIESELBOI I’ve always done about 25% especially if they’ve given me a good deal on the price. I think 15% to 20% is average.

  9. Obnor (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 1:13 pm

    DIESELBOI – I agree Kai. I do about 20 – 25%. Also, I too see Paul Zenk @ Infinity. Awesome guy, great artist, and a fantastic shop. Everyone there are very talented.

  10. Joe Garagiola (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

    Call me an ass, but I always thought $50-$75 (or more) dollars an hour was pretty good money.

    I tip well, but generally to people that rely on them to make a living wage.

    If you made $50 an hour and worked 20 hours a week, you’d be taking home $50K a year, working half time. That’s a pretty decent piece of vig and a butt ton of free time to spend on whatever you wanted.

  11. Kai (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 3:17 pm

    Joe, I would agree but this is a highly specialized and skilled field. You are paying someone to put a permanent image on your body and if they have done a really good job, like better than you had even anticipated, I think it’s fine to tip them. You are also trusting that they aren’t going to screw it up.

    My first tattoo was done in the eighties by a scary looking biker type guy at one of the old places on First Avenue in Seattle. It was supposed to be a ying-yang but ended up looking like the Safeway logo. He didn’t get a tip and I wouldn’t have paid him anything except he was sort of intimidating. I ended up having to get a coverup later on.

    Stylists in higher-end salons charge $50-$70 or more for just a haircut, and there is an expectation that you tip on top of their fee. It’s just the way it works.

    The other thing to consider is the fact that you may only get one tattoo in your life, or maybe once a year, so it’s kind of more than going to a restaurant and getting dinner. It’s a big deal and not something you do very often, so a decent tip isn’t going to break you and usually when you’re saving up the money to do your piece you sort of take the tip into consideration.

    Of course sometimes you luck out and have a very nice friend who offers to pay for your tattoo so the least you can do is cover the tip.

  12. divebarwife (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 10:03 pm

    You also have to remember that just because you’re paying $50-75 an hour that isn’t their salary – that’s their income pre-expenses.

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