Pros & Cons of Appointment and Walk in Tattoo Sessions

Whether you’re thinking about getting your very first tattoo or adding something new to your ink collection, it’s an exciting decision. Getting a tattoo is thrilling, and a way to make a statement on your body about something you love or something important to you, or even just add a cool new tattoo design.

Your body is a canvas and there are endless possibilities for art and design. When you’re ready for your next tattoo, it’s time to pick a shop and head on in. There are a few ways to go about getting your next tattoo. We’ll give you the scoop on the benefits of making an appointment or walking in.

Advantages of Setting a Tattoo Appointment

There are some advantages to scheduling an appointment for your next tattoo. For starters, by making an appointment you can guarantee that you’ll have a time slot. By walking in you take the risk that there may not be an artist that can do your tattoo that day.

They could already be booked and ask you to come back the next day or go ahead and book an appointment with an artist.

Also, if you walk in you may not be able to choose your artist. Every artist that works are the shop will not be there every day, so if there is a specific artist you’re hoping for to do your tattoo, making an appointment is the best way to guarantee you’ll get that artist.

Tattoo artists each have a unique style and their preferences when it comes to which types of tattoos they enjoy doing. You can stop in a tattoo shop any time to look through examples of each artist’s style and talk to someone in the shop to see who they recommend based on the design you’re looking for.

By making an appointment you’ll also be able to work with the artist ahead of time to make sure your design is just right. Getting a tattoo is a big decision, and you want the design to be exactly what you have in mind.

Do tattoo artists like walk-ins?

Most tattoo shops appreciate walk-ins. Some studios are private, and that usually means you need to make an appointment. It’s good to do some quick research on the shop you’re thinking about going to, to see if they have any preferences when it comes to walk-ins.

To save yourself some time, you can also give the shop a quick call to see if they have time for a walk-in. They can let you know if it’s best to head on in or if you should come later in the day, or even try a different day.

You don’t need to call though. Walk-ins are usually fair game. On days when it’s slow, or people have canceled appointments, artists depend on walk-ins for work that day.

There are definitely some things you need to keep in mind when you’re showing up for your first walk-in tattoo, though. There is a sort of unspoken etiquette and you want to make sure you manage your expectations before heading in for your walk-in tattoo.

What is considered a walk-in tattoo?

Walk-in tattoos are different from appointment tattoos in a variety of ways. First of all, you’re not going to get some elaborate piece done by just walking in. Walk-in tattoos are typically limited to small, simpler designs.

The art is limited to simpler designs because larger tattoos often take multiple sessions to complete. In addition to the time it takes to do a larger tattoo, it also takes time to get the design just right. These pieces usually require a consultation which is dedicated to just a little and talking with the artist about your tattoo and planning out the design.

Also, if you walk-in and the artist doesn’t have enough time to complete the tattoo, you might be disappointed if they can’t fit you in right away. It’s best to be patient though. You wouldn’t want the artist to rush your tattoo and risk the potential for it to turn out differently than you imagined.

For small designs, none of this should be a problem. Your artist can give you a good idea of what’s acceptable for a walk-in tattoo. If you’re not sure, just ask! They’ll let you know what they have time for.

What are some walk-in tips/etiquettes?

Going into a tattoo shop for the first time can be a little overwhelming and intimidating. Often times, there’s no reason to be nervous at all. We have a few tips to help your first walk-in tattoo experience go smoothly.

These tips will help make sure you have the best walk-in tattoo experience and also leave a good impression for the next time you want to add some new ink.

Know What You Want Before You Go

It’s a good idea to know what you want before you walk in for your tattoo. You don’t want to waste time deciding something after you arrive. Your tattoo artist isn’t going to pick a design for you.

If you don’t know exactly what you want, at least have a good idea. The artist can give you some suggestions, but ultimately you have to decide. Many tattoo shops have generic designs on the wall to give you some ideas!

Remember, tattoos are permanent, and you want to make sure you choose something that you think you’re going to love long term. Even if you’re planning to walk-in for your tattoo, it never hurts to do a little planning yourself ahead of time so you’re confident in your tattoo decision.

Know Your Pain Tolerance

Be honest with yourself about your pain tolerance. Tattoos are painful to a certain degree, and the pain can be more intense depending on where you get tattooed. The ribs, for example, are a more painful place to get a tattoo.

Make sure you know what you’re getting into, so you don’t end up leaving the shop with a half-finished tattoo because it was too painful. Most artists will give you small breaks throughout. Breathe through it, and eventually, you’ll get used to the sensation.

If you’re nervous about the pain, It’s a good idea to start with a tattoo I a less painful spot so you have an idea of what it feels like. Before you go, think of a few places where you might like to get your tattoo, and your artist can give you an idea of what might be the best option for you.

Let Your Artist Do Their Job

Tattoo artists are experienced, and each has their own unique style and preferences. Don’t ask your artist to copy someone else’s work, especially if it is an original piece and not some generic design.

Tattoo artists want to create original pieces that you’ll be happy with. It isn’t cool to ask them to recreate someone else’s work. You can use another design for inspiration, though! Talk with your artist about your design before they begin.

Be Ready To Pay

No matter how small a tattoo is, you’re going to have to pay for the work. Many shops have a shop minimum price. This means that no matter what tattoo you decide on, there is a minimum cost. This is for the time it takes to prep and clean, as well as the time to design and ink the tattoo. Don’t negotiate on this price.

Tattoo prices vary but they are fair depending on the type of work you’re having done. Some generic designs have a set price for the size displayed, but it could change a bit if you want a different size. If you’re getting a large tattoo done, you will likely be charged by the hour.

Tip Your Artist

It’s good practice to tip your tattoo artist. They’re providing a service and a one-of-a-kind piece of art for you. Tipping them lets your artist know that you appreciate their time and their art, and it will help establish a good relationship for when you inevitably come back for your next piece.

Be Patient

Finally, be patient when you walk-in. Showing up for a walk-in tattoo means that the shop wasn’t expecting you. Just because you’re there and ready for a tattoo doesn’t mean they have time to work you in right away.

You will likely need to wait for at least a few minutes, but it could be longer depending on how many artists are in that day and how many other appointments and walk-ins they have before you.

If you want to make sure they’ll have time to do your tattoo that day, and that you are getting the exact artist, style, and design you want, it’s best to make an appointment.

Enjoy Your Walk-In Tattoo Experience

With these tips, you’re now ready to walk-in to your local tattoo shop and get your first tattoo! If you’ve decided that making an appointment is better for your situation, that’s great too. Either way, we hope you choose a design you love and have a great experience getting your tattoo.


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