We do both. But, some tattoos can’t really be done on a walk-in basis. Almost all tattoo designs will require at least a little prep-work such as drawing, tracing, re-sizing, etc. If the design you want is small or maybe medium size, and the prep-work will only take a few minutes, then we may be able to do it for you as a walk-in as long as we have the time available when you come in. If the design is larger, has more detail, or we have to change or modify it to your liking, then the prep-work may take substantially longer. In this case, more often than not, you will have to come in for a consultation, pay a deposit, and set an appointment. The amount of the deposit will be at least $20.00, and will vary, just depending on how much prep-work is involved and how much time we anticipate will be consumed in that process. We collect the deposit in order to ensure that you are serious about getting the tattoo before we spend any substantial amount of our time prepping for it. It also secures the time-slot for your appointment. The deposit amount is applied to the cost of the tattoo when you get it. If you end up not getting the tattoo for whatever reason, we keep the deposit as compensation for the time spent prepping it for you. We will also keep your deposit if you do not show up for your appointment, or if you are substantially late for your appointment. Some people don’t really understand why the deposit is forfeited under these circumstances… the reason is simple… it costs us money. Let’s say you have an appointment for Tuesday at 2pm, and you paid a $40 deposit. Tuesday comes, its 1:30 pm. Another person comes in and wants to get a tattoo that would cost $150. We say “Sorry, I can’t do it for you right now because I have a client(you) coming in at 2:00 for an appointment.” That customer leaves and goes somewhere else. Then 2:00 comes and goes, and you don’t show up until 3:30, or maybe not at all. So now I have sent that person and his $150 right out the door for no reason. If I had known you weren’t really coming, or you were going to be late, I could have taken that customer and made that $150. So even after keeping your deposit, I’m still $110 in the hole, so to speak. So now you see that it is perfectly reasonable to keep deposit money in the case of no-shows or late-shows. We have a copy of our appointment policy posted on this site. Please take a look at it for full details.
First of all, in the state of NC, YOU MUST BE AT LEAST 18 YEARS OLD TO GET A TATTOO…PERIOD. We hear all the time “Well, I talked to so-and-so, and he said….” -- No… it doesn’t matter who told you that you could. There is no allowance for parental consent for a tattoo in NC. And if you find or know of a shop in NC that will do it, they are breaking the law, whether they know it or not. (We wish that there were a provision for this, and we will discuss this further in a separate article in the near future. So be sure to read it when it becomes available if it interests or concerns you.) That being said, YOU MUST HAVE A GOVERNMENT ISSUED PHOTO ID OR DRIVERS LICENSE and make sure you bring it with you. It must be in good condition so that we can read it and see the photo clearly enough to tell that it’s you. We will make a copy of it and attach it to your consent form, which we will discuss in a moment. This rule applies to EVERYONE!! Yes, even if it’s perfectly obvious that you are over the age of 18. We MUST have a copy of your ID with your paperwork for legal purposes. No ID, no tattoo, no piercings, no exceptions. Now, on the other hand, you CAN get a piercing with parental consent. Standard ear-lobe piercings can be done at age 16 even without parental consent. Any other type of piercing WILL require parental (or legal guardian) consent if you are not yet 18. In this case, the parent will need to come in with the son/daughter. The parent or guardian will be required to present his or her ID, the son/daughters ID, and documentation proving the parent or legal guardian relationship (birth certificate, court papers, etc.), and fill out and sign the piercing consent form on behalf of the son/daughter.
Everyone must read, understand, fill out, and sign our consent forms for tattoos and piercings. For those of you who have never been tattooed in a legitimate, professional shop before, and you are not familiar with a “consent form”, let us explain… a consent form is, in a nutshell, a document that you read and sign, that gives us written permission to make a permanent alteration to your body. There is a lot of “legal mumbo-jumbo” on this form that is designed to be informative to the customer and protect us (the tattoo artists) from any issues or disputes that could arise later as a result of a person’s decision to get a tattoo or piercing. WE STRONGLY ADVISE THAT YOU READ THIS DOCUMENT IN ITS ENTIRETY!! If you have questions or don’t fully understand something on the form, let us know and we will discuss it to your satisfaction. Don’t just slap your initials and signature on it and hand it back. Again, this document is designed to inform you, the customer, and protect us, the tattoo artists. It’s important for you to know what this form says, understand it, and realize that it is a legally binding document, and that by signing it you are agreeing to ALL terms and conditions set forth within it. There is a copy of this form posted on this site for your convenience. Please take a moment and read it. To take a look at our consent forms before you come in CLICK HERE.
So… you’re here, you’ve read, understand, and signed your consent form. Now the fun begins!! If you have taken time to think ahead, you will have eaten some food beforehand to help prevent light-headedness and/or nausea, and you will be wearing clothing that is appropriate and/or suitable for getting a tattoo or piercing in the location you have chosen. Yep… believe it or not, we are not magicians, we cannot apply a tattoo to your body unless you are willing to uncover the area you want to have tattooed. So, just think “easy access” when choosing what to wear. Example: if you are getting a tattoo on your thigh/hip area, jeans or long pants are not ideal, because you will have to unbutton, unzip, and pull them down, or possibly remove them altogether just depending on exactly what’s called for. Instead, a pair of soft and loose fitting gym shorts would be much better because you can simply raise the one side up high enough to expose the area that’s getting tattooed. Keep in mind… we MUST be able to FREELY access the area to be tattooed… there’s no getting around it. BE AWARE… if you want a tattoo on your breast, buttocks, pubic areas, etc., there is a chance that you may have to expose the entire thing, nipples and other private parts included. Common sense should tell you that if the clothing you are wearing is such that the artist is hindered by it and can’t do a good job on your tattoo because he is having to fight with it, then the clothing will need to be further adjusted or possibly removed altogether. If you find this unacceptable, then you will have to choose a different location for your tattoo. Also, in regards to your choice of location for the tattoo, you need to know and understand that there are what we call “problem areas” for tattoos. About 85 to 90 percent of the human body is typically good for tattoo work, but there are certain areas that tend to be a little problematic in the initial application, the healing process, and whether or not the tattoo will “stay”. For more info on this, please read our “Problem Area Form” posted on this site. You should also consider the fact that there’s a chance of getting tattoo ink on your clothes, and it will not likely wash out. So wearing your “good” clothes that you care about is not a good idea. If you’re gonna be pissed because it got ink on it, then DON’T WEAR IT!! Now that that’s all settled, it’s finally time for the pain! Yes, in spite of what you may hear from certain people that say “It doesn’t hurt at all”, for 99 percent of people, it does hurt. It hurts to various degrees depending on the person and the particular area being tattooed. It can be any level, anywhere between a slight discomfort or annoyance to what some people might classify as severe or even excruciating. People ask all the time, “How bad is this gonna hurt?” We can’t really answer that. Different folks perceive tattoo pain differently. A number of factors come into play here, with lots of variables. Generally speaking, most people deal with tattoo pain quite well. It’s often described as a stinging and/or burning sensation that is really more of an annoyance than pain. But there are some people who don’t take it quite so well, who will tell you it hurts really bad. Again, it’s a very individual thing, so you won’t really know for sure until you try it for yourself. Yes, there are a number of topical anesthetics (numbing creams or gels) available, but we do not offer them in-house because they can be quite expensive and they may or may not work for you. In our experience, one product may work well for this person, but not the next. We have to charge you extra for the product. If it doesn’t work for you, then you might want your money back for the product. We cannot refund you for it, even if it doesn’t work for you. Therefore, we simply don’t offer it in-house. So, if you feel like you must have a numbing agent in order to get a tattoo, then you will have to do your own research, choose and purchase your own product and bring it with you. We make absolutely no claims as to which products work, don’t work, which ones work the best, etc. The best thing is for you to expect at least some level of discomfort or even pain. But try not to let your brain insist that it’s going to be this god-awful horrendous nightmare from which you will never awake. Being overly worried and nervous about how bad it might hurt can cause problems for you and your artist. So just take a few deep breaths, and know that staying calm and still will make things go better and faster for you. YOUR ARTIST WILL NEED YOU TO BE STILL!! Be aware that it is pretty-near impossible to do a good tattoo on you if you can’t be still. Sometimes a client may experience an involuntary twitch or jerk in response to the pain. We deal with this the best we can, and it’s usually not too bad. On the other hand, if your movements are because you are too busy talking or playing on your phone (or the like), or simply because you’re not making a conscious effort to be still, we can’t and won’t deal with this. Twitching, fidgeting, laughing, sneezing, coughing, and general movement of any body part while getting tattooed MUST be kept to an absolute minimum. Depending on the location of the tattoo, even talking or erratic breathing can cause a problem. Bottom line… if you can’t be still, then don’t expect your tattoo to look perfect afterwards. And this is rare, but if you are bad enough, your artist may choose to stop the tattoo rather than continue and have it look terrible afterwards. So just be still, and all will be well. If you need to, for example, move your leg or arm because you have become uncomfortable, just say “Hold on a second, I need to move my leg.” Your artist will be glad to give you a moment to re-adjust. If you just move it all of a sudden without saying anything, you could end up with an error in your tattoo… that straight line won’t be so straight, that circle might look like a triangle, that red might venture off somewhere where the red isn’t supposed to be, etc. If you need a break, tell your artist. We generally take a 5 or 10 minute break every 1 to 1.5 hours or so anyways, so try to wait if you can. But we certainly want you to let us know if you feel light-headed, dizzy, nauseous, or unwell in any other way, or if you need to go to the restroom. We will be glad to give you a break. Once the tattoo is complete, it will be thoroughly cleaned, a small amount of ointment applied, and be covered with a light dressing. It’s over… you did it… Yaayyy!!
So now you have your tattoo, it’s awesome, and you can’t stop looking at it!! Now what? How do you keep it looking its best? Well, this is one of those “depends on who you ask” kind of questions. Different people may prefer different methods of aftercare. Those of you who have several tattoos already are likely to have an aftercare method that works well for you, and that’s great… if it works for you, keep doing it. For those of you that are new to getting tattoos, it is definitely very important that you employ some version of an aftercare plan. We certainly have our own recommendations… please see our “aftercare instructions” form posted on this site. To be directed to the shop forms and aftercare instruction CLICK HERE. But first and foremost, the single most important thing is for you to keep your tattoo clean and free from contaminants during the healing process. Your tattoo is the most susceptible to irritations and infection immediately after it’s applied. At this point, it’s basically an open wound. There are thousands upon thousands of tiny perforations (holes) in the skin through which bad stuff can get inside and cause problems such as excessive redness, irritation, swelling and even infections. Over the next few days, it gradually becomes less and less susceptible as it heals. Have you ever heard someone say to not go to a particular shop because they (or someone they know) got an infection in the tattoo they got from there? There are too many cases where people blame the tattoo shop for an infection. While it is not entirely impossible that they got the infection from the shop, it’s also not likely. Contrary to popular belief, if a tattoo that was done at a legal, inspected, reputable shop gets infected, it’s most likely because it was exposed to some germ or bacteria AFTER the person left the shop. It’s such an easy and simple thing to do. For example… you get a tattoo on the outside of your forearm, the next day you go to a restaurant, you sit down and without even thinking about it, you lay your arms down on the table in front of you. Your brand new tattoo is now in direct contact with a surface that is most likely contaminated with all kinds of microscopic nastiness!! Do you have any idea what kind of germs and bacteria are on that table? No, you don’t know, and you don’t even want to know. But there are plenty…. we guarantee it!! So now, without even realizing what’s happened, you have exposed your tattoo to whatever’s on that table, and over the next couple of days or so, you develop a really nice infection… yikes!! The best way to avoid this is to pay attention and be careful what you expose it to. Keep it off of surfaces such as tables, walls, floors, etc. Keep your friends, children and pets away from it. Keep your hands, fingers and fingernails off of it as well except for when you are washing the tattoo. You should also avoid things like going to the gym to work out, direct sunlight or tanning bed, and going swimming, especially in natural bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, streams, and yes, the ocean. Sorry, but going to the beach should not be on your agenda for at least a couple of weeks or so after getting a new tattoo!! --- So what exactly happens while your tattoo is healing? Well, first of all, it will be sore for a few days. It’s common to experience some degree of redness around the site and/or a little puffiness or swelling. Some people might even see a little bruising (this is rare). How much of these after-effects you experience largely depends on the tattoo design itself, and how much damage is inflicted at the site by the application processes. A small, simple tattoo will likely do very little damage to the skin and will generally heal up fairly quickly with minimal after-effects. A larger, more complicated tattoo with lots of different colors and shading gradients will do considerably more damage, and will take longer to heal, and will typically show a higher level of after-effects. At a minimum, it will dry up to a degree, the top layers of skin will die, and it will flake and peel off very much like what happens after a bad sunburn. It will itch, possibly a lot… don’t scratch it!! You can lightly rub it or pat it to help alleviate the itching, but only with clean hands. You might see some scab formation… if so, DO NOT PICK OR SCRATCH AT IT! Pulling off the scab before it is ready to come off WILL DAMAGE THE TATTOO!! Just be patient and let the scab and flaky skin fall off on its own. Also try to be careful not to pull or scrape the scab off by any accidental or unintentional means, as the tattoo will likely be damaged. Following your aftercare instructions closely will minimize flaking, peeling, scabbing and itching and help your skin get back to normal quicker. Again, be patient… everyone is different and some heal faster than others. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for a tattoo to heal and get back to the point where it looks and feels “normal”, and it can take months or even up to a year or so for the site to completely regenerate and get back to 100% normal. Another issue to be aware of is allergic reactions. Allergic reactions to tattoo inks are pretty rare, but it does happen. You should understand that this is a real risk that you accept and take upon yourself when you choose to get a tattoo, and that we cannot be held responsible for anything related to this issue. (Please see our consent form for details on this and other risks involved in getting tattooed.) Will it happen to you? Honestly, we have no idea. We really have no way of knowing who will react to any given tattoo ink. Generally, if a person has an allergic reaction, it will be to one specific color and/or maybe one specific shade or even a specific name-brand of that color. It boils down to the fact that the person is allergic to a specific ingredient in the ink. That same ingredient may or may not be in other colors and/or name-brands. So even if you’ve never had a reaction before, it’s still entirely possible for you to have one in the future. By the same token, even if you have had a reaction before, you may never have another one. It’s truly a roll of the dice. So… just how common are these reactions? What are your odds of having one? Well, I can say that in my 16 years of tattooing, I have personally seen maybe a dozen cases where the client reacted to an ink that I put into their skin. I can also tell you that there is one color that tops the list in the number of allergic reactions it causes. That color is RED. I’d say that 90% of reactions I have seen were caused by red ink. I have seen 2 cases of reaction to purple. I do not recall ever seeing any reactions to any other colors. That’s not to say that they haven’t happened, or won’t happen. I’m simply saying that red and purple are the only 2 colors that I have personally seen cause an allergic reaction during my 16 years tattooing. So… it is rare, but they do happen on occasion, and you should be aware that it could happen to you. How do you know if you are having an allergic reaction? Well, it’s usually pretty obvious. Typically there will be swelling or “blistering” or a “raising up” of the area of skin that contains the color that’s causing the reaction. So if you have red ink in your tattoo, and the skin is “raised up” only in the red area(s), then it’s pretty safe to say that you are having an allergic reaction. Reactions are often accompanied by mild-to-moderate itching, but can be severe in some cases. If you do, in fact, have a reaction, unfortunately there is absolutely nothing we can do for it. We are not medical professionals. We cannot prevent it, treat it, or cure it. Some people have alleviated their reactions by taking over-the-counter anti-allergy medications such as Benadryl. Some, who suffered more severe reactions, have had to seek medical help, which have consisted of a variety of treatments ranging from pills to steroidal shots to excision (surgical removal of the offensive portion of the tattoo). We cannot say what your course of action should be in the case that you have a reaction. If faced with such a case, you would have to decide for yourself what to do based on your particular case and severity thereof. But often, it’s in one’s best interest to seek professional medical treatment.
Now your tattoo is done, it’s all healed up, and things are getting back to normal. Here are a few tips for the future to help ensure long life for your tattoo. First of all, after you’ve had your tattoo for say 2 to 4 months and it is well-healed, you should always come back for a “check-up”, especially if you see anything about it that you aren’t happy with. Very often, tattoos will need to be “touched up” after the healing process is complete. Give your artist an opportunity to inspect the tattoo and see if there’s anything that needs to be done to make it looks its best. We stand behind our work and will take care of any touch-up work free of charge. There is, however, an exception to this statement. If your artist inspects your tattoo and finds evidence that the touch-up work that’s needed is due to damage or negligence on your part, then you will be charged appropriately for the touch-up. And yes, we can tell the difference. Your next issue is exposure to sun and other UV rays, including tanning beds. This can definitely take a toll on your tattoos in a relatively short period of time. Avoiding direct sunlight or tanning beds will go a long way towards keeping your tattoo more crisp and clean looking, colors bolder and more vivid. If you must be exposed to the sun, sunscreen is your tattoo’s best friend. And finally, there’s good ole Father Time. We all wish our tattoos would look new forever, but sadly, they just won’t. Over time, our tattoos fade, spread out a bit, become a little more difficult to see the details, begin to look blotchy, etc. The longer the time, the worse it gets. This is just a cold, hard fact. The rate and severity of this deterioration can vary greatly from person to person, depending upon what they expose their tattoos to over the years. And believe it or not, skin type has a lot to do with it as well. Some people simply have better skin for tattoos. They take the initial tattooing better, it looks better after healing, and it stays looking good for a longer period of time. On the other hand, some people don’t have this “good skin”. For these folks, it’s more difficult to make the tattoo look good even at the time of application. Their tattoos can fairly quickly begin to look older than they actually are. Unfortunately, there’s really nothing that can be done about this. The characteristics of one’s skin… well, you’ve heard the expression… It is what it is. But regardless of your skin type, taking care of your skin is the best way to prolong the life of your tattoos. And the good news is, when your tattoos aren’t looking so good anymore, we can, in many cases, rework and refresh them. In lots of other cases, we can cover up the old ones with new ones. So… get lots of tattoos, love them, wear them proudly, and show them off. And when they’re old and tired, just get them a facelift!!