In decades past, the image of the grizzled old tattoo artist was commonplace. Today's tattoo artists are cut from different cloth though, and while there are still some of the old guard in business, they're becoming relics of a bygone era. Tattoo's today are safer, cleaner and more widely accepted than at any other point in American history, and the professionals who do the work have changed with the times.
Whether it's a basic healthcare certificate or a master's degree in art, most tattoo artists working today have some kind of formal education under their belt. Not only does this make them more competent at what they do, it also ensures that you're going to get a higher quality piece of work with less risk of infection or fading. All that education means that they take pride in what they do, which translates to better value and better service.
Even those who don't have a graduate-level degree are still required to undergo some basic tattoo training in most states. Following this, many states also require a period of apprenticeship before any artist can begin working on their own. This level of regulation provides you with the security of knowing that the person performing what amounts to minor surgery has at least gained your state's seal of approval.
Health and Hygiene Practices
With so much additional training, education and personal pride going into every tattoo that today's artists do, there is that much more stress placed on sanitation and hygiene. Not only will improper hygiene practices potentially ruin a tattoo, but an infection originating from a tattoo can be life threatening. This is why so many within the tattoo industry stress the importance of using sterilized tools, non-reactive metals and surgical gloves during any tattoo work.
Even once a tattoo is done there is still a high risk of infection, so sterile bandages are often used to cover fresh work. This is as much to protect the new art as it is to protect its owner's health, of course. Many tattoo artists also offer follow-up consultation to their clients, in the event that the healing process doesn't seem to be going quite right. In most cases, touching base with the artist is faster and cheaper than visiting a doctor, but if it's necessary they'll still refer you to a medical professional for proper care.
Given the history of tattoos in America, it's no wonder so much focus has been placed on changing the perception people have of both artists and their clients. If you're considering a new tattoo make sure you're being selective about who does it and where it's done, because the level of skill, professionalism and hygiene available to you is incredible. For more information. talk to a local tattoo parlor, like The Ink Lab.