Fast facts on what to look for when considering a tattoo, courtesy Ainslie Heilich
1. A state license. Never get tattooed in a facility that is not licensed by the state, like a home, basement, garage, hotel or at a "tattoo party." Saving a few dollars will end up costing more. Fixing or covering up bad tattoos costs more than getting it done right the first time. Also, the health risks related to being tattooed by a nonprofessional can be deadly. Just because they open a new needle and tube in front of you does not mean the entire procedure is sterile. There are many ways to spread disease during a tattoo, not just from reusing needles.
2. A public health license. In Illinois, the Illinois Department of Public Health licenses and inspects tattoo shops annually to make sure they are clean and sanitary. Ask to see the shop's current license.
3. An up-to-date blood-borne pathogens certificate. The artist needs to be trained and tested annually to stay fully aware of the latest in safety.
4. Artist portfolios. Are they up to date with clear photos or filled with old blurry snapshots? Do the artists take pride in their work? Does the artist excel in a style you like? Is their work well done with clean lines, smooth shading and solid fills? Do they have photos that show how their tattoos look once healed? Does it still look as good as the day it was done?