Good tattoos don’t happen in kitchens


When I was younger I had terrible taste.  Most of us do.

All I knew is that I wanted to be covered in tattoos.  I was gothy and I thought spider webs, bats, moons & stars were the shizz. Okay, I still do, but I don’t want crumby stamps of them all over my body, like I did when I was 18.  I didn’t know then what I know today.  Now that I have far better taste, now that I know what true artists are capable of.

My first tattoo, was by a “scratcher” and it’s awful! It’s huge and in prime real estate, it’s dark and has strong straight lines. In short, a nightmare to cover up.  But luckily, I am good friends with an amazing artist who is  currently in the process of covering this hideous thing up with something AWESOME! I’ll post photos once it’s complete. I’ll actually write a whole post on cover ups and the process involved.

whats a scratcher

A scratcher is someone who is not tattooing at a shop.  They are someone offering you a really cheap deal to get tattooed.  They are often working out of their kitchens, bedrooms, basements, vans etc.  There is a reason they are not tattooing at a shop.  The reasons can be various, often, that they have no training and they need guinea pigs.  Or their work is not up to snuff to hold up at a shop. I don’t know about you, but I think I’m worth more than just being a guinea pig on something so permanent and personal.

I will never, ever, ever let a scratcher touch my skin again.  I was 21 when I got my first tattoo, I knew nothing of the industry and nothing about safety.  I had no idea that I was about to get sub par work, because, honestly, I didn’t know the difference.  I did after I got my tattoo though.  It looked like shit, it didn’t look like the drawing at all.  I cried a lot. I suffered it’s ugliness for ten years until I was able to find an artist worthy and up to the task of covering it up.


“If your body is a temple, why not decorate the walls”, right?  And why would I decorate with second rate, poorly applied tattoos? Especially when you can get fine art?

At that point, I stopped and questioned myself and what I was doing with my body.  Was it worth screwing up my skin with cheap tattoos, just because they were cheap?  No.  No it wasn’t worth it and I cooled it on getting tattooed for a while as I put a lot more thought into what I wanted and who was going to do it. It’s my body and I only want the best I can put on it from now on.

Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to become really good friends with a few tattoo artists that eventually got me a job managing a shop.

You learn a lot in a shop, not just about good tattooers and what they are capable of, but also about safety.

I’m so happy this finally got fixed. Talk about a nightmare! A memorial tattoo so botched up by a scratcher and finally fixed by a professional!

You get what you pay for


But the biggest reason not to get tattooed by a scratcher is because they more than likely have no idea about blood born pathogens.

This is serious.

This is about your safety.

Scratchers don’t know how to combat things like Hepatitis C.  It is extremely rare to contract anything like Hepatitis C in a professional, licensed tattoo & piercing shop, as we have learned about blood born pathogens and how to protect ourselves and our clients from any form of transmission.

That person tattooing you in their kitchen, does not.

Hepatitis C can live outside of the body for up to 4 days.  So if your scratcher tattooed someone sick yesterday or even 3 days ago, your chances of contracting a life threatening illness is in the high percentile.

“Oh, I saw them, they wiped everything down with bleach, used 99% rubbing alcohol and sterilized their equipment in boiling water”.  No they didn’t, because they do not have access to the things that would make this possible.  If they’re not wiping down with a hard surface cleaner like Cavicide or Optum TB and if they’re not using an autoclave to sterilize their equipment, then they’re not doing anything for your safety.  There are a number of practices, protocols, chemicals and equipment used to keep safety at a high standard in shops.

“But they wore gloves!”  That doesn’t stop them from cross contaminating things.  You can wear gloves all you want, but if you touch something dirty and then proceed to touch a clean area, that clean area is no longer clean.  Professionals learn how to avoid this.

There is a big difference in these two terms, sanitized & sterilized.  Sanitize roughly equates to very clean,  sterilize is not only clean but also free from bacteria or other living microorganisms and all foreign materials (ie things that can make you sick or cause an infection).  That scratcher is barely cleaning and no where near sanitizing or sterilization.  (I also feel really uncomfortable with the thought that they may have boiled their spaghetti in the same pot they’re “sanitizing/sterilizing” tools)

Just keep in mind, you only get one body to travel this life in.  Don’t risk it for cheap tattoos (or even piercings for that matter) that will look like shit and can potentially get you really sick.  Don’t trust anyone who offers you a cut rate, or refers to their tattoo machine as a “gun” (guns shoot things, it’s a tattoo machine).  Don’t trust someone with a “sweet deal tattoo gun” kit they bought online.

If it’s happening in a home, you probably should rethink what you’re about to do (just google “tattoo infection”…ugh, heebie jeebies!).  Trust someone who has put not only years into learning their craft, but also have learned how to keep you & themselves safe.  Trust the person that has spent hundreds of dollars on their machines, because that person cares, that person wants to share art with the world and give you the very best piece they can give you.

The art is worth it, the artist is worth it and most importantly, You are worth it!

If you’d like to see some killer good tattoo work, check out my pinterest board {good tattoos}

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