The Dangers of Shopping for Price: scratchers, infections and bad tattoos

With tattoos becoming increasing popular by the day, the dangers associated with getting tattoos are also increasing. While most adults are already aware of these dangers, very few teenagers seem to realize what’s at risk. Often, it’s much more than just a bad patch of inked skin. Yet bargain-shoppers in the tattoo world can’t seem to keep sound reason in mind when they shop for price, rather than quality of technique, cleanliness AND artistry.

This blog serves as a reminder for people who pass on reputable tattoo studios and opt for a subpar tattoo artist working out of an unsanitary shop or worse, from home. The dangers of getting a tattoo from unreliable studios and scratchers are as follows.

An Unsafe Environment

Most scratchers work out of kitchens, living rooms and basements. The fact that they lack professional equipment like the mandatory autoclave means that they cannot properly ensure your safety. And they do NOT care. Given that even professional tattoo artists use disposable tubes now, this is actually a positive thing. But really, tubes aren’t the only things that matter and a scratcher is unlicensed, untrained in cross-contamination, blood-borne pathogens, or legally responsible for any the numerous requirements set by an insurance company willing to make themselves responsible for a professional tattooists actions and inactions.

badly infected tattoo!
badly infected tattoo!

The Risk of Cross Contamination

Simply wearing latex gloves doesn’t make the practice sanitary. In fact, tattooing while wearing gloves for prolonged periods of time can also cause contamination. Unless precautions are taken, everything the scratcher touches becomes contaminated. While contamination is dangerous, cross contamination is even more so.

The problem is that most scratchers don’t have the complete set of equipment and chemicals to do a sanitary tattoo job, (and even if they claim to, it is impossible; ignorance is rampant!) Fact- Without proper sterilization of equipment at every step and phase, the person getting a tattoo runs a high risk of contracting chronic diseases and infections. And winning a court battle with an illegal artist whom you knowingly went to rather than a professional establishment is a hard fought battle thousands are fighting every day. Don’t be one of them.

Screen shot 2015-06-23 at 5.39.38 PM

Lack of Proper Equipment

Keep in mind that a tattoo machine is easy to come by, the one’s you will find at most scratchers are almost always inexpensive, low quality starter kits. The problem is that the people getting the tattoo fail to differentiate between an actual tattoo machine and ones scratchers use. If you absolutely have to shop for a price, I would suggest that you visit a reputed parlor and simply observe their standard operating procedure. This benchmark you witness will serve as the best way to differentiate between a good and a bad tattoo artist. Simply having a tattoo machine doesn’t mean diddly!! And it does not in any way guarantee that the tattoo you are about to get will be a good one.

They Won’t Take Ownership of their Work if Things Go South

What will you do if something happens to go wrong, whether the tattoo isn’t healing right or if you get some sort of infection? Go back and complain to the cheapest price you could find? Keep in mind that scratchers already lack proper knowledge and training in what they are doing, and if something does go wrong all they have to do is deny that it’s their tattoo or their responsibility to begin with. A scratcher doesn’t keep a record because what they are doing is already ILLEGAL. And they damn sure aren’t going to admit guilt confronted. Most will vanish, disappear, and pop up in another town to notch up another batch of ‘victims’. We hear about it every day in our shops.badtat

They Aren’t Regulated by Health Department Inspections

What makes a tattoo studio a reputed one, apart from the name of the tattoo artists that are operating inside it, is that the shop is regularly inspected by officials to check whether they have implemented the guidelines given by the health department. Not only do scratchers not follow the guidelines, they aren’t even inspected. This is the part of the argument that sounds like – “yeah, I’m not paying my money for a business license, or taxes, or insurance to do this to people! That’s jus the ‘man’ trying to get in my pocket!”, etc, etc, etc. Don’t be taken in by this load of garbage. YOU ARE AT RISK, not them. (Or so they think! Read how this Scratch-master earned himself some jail time for DAMAGE he inflicted on one of his victims.)

Just make Good Decisions, is all. And, parents, help your teenagers make good decisions too. If they want a tattoo, encourage them to take their time, wait till they are of legal age, and even take them to visit shops and meet artists along their journey, helping them to recognize and desire good, safe, sterile, tattooing. Remember that getting a tattoo is a serious business. You are giving an artist a part of your body and before you do that, you must be able to completely trust the person that is going to work on you. And if you shop for tattoos according to price, you are only going to create more problems for yourself, (potentially life-threatening ones!) And besides, neither Laser-Removal nor Cover-Ups are cheap! badtatts

— Remember, You only live once (see above), and everyone DESERVES to have GOOD TATTOOS!


*Remember to check out the TAM digital store with videos and digital copies of Tattoo Artist Magazine ready to be downloaded to your device. — All 39 issues available and ON SALE NOW from $2.99 to $7.99.

Screen shot 2015-06-12 at 11.53.40 AM

[divider] * Featured image found on Pinterest via


Similar Articles

2 thoughts on “The Dangers of Shopping for Price: scratchers, infections and bad tattoos

  1. ….also, the LAW. The United States only legalized tattooing in the 21st century. Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Massachusetts were illegal during Y2K. NYC was illegal in all five boroughs from 1961 to 1997. The state of New Jersey to this day is still illegal in many cities, there, it’s up to each township to decide. All it would take is some jack ass bigoted politician to use a single case of Hepatitis or HIV infection to overturn decades of hard fought tattoo legislation. That’s what bothers me the most about people breaking the law to work out of their homes, is how little they care about everyone else. They are all to willing to jeopardize the entire industry just for themselves. You really love tattoos? Then respect them.

    1. Absolutely, Johnny.
      It’s hard for me to fathom just HOW MANY people are defending the illegal practices of unlicensed, unregulated tattooers. The Legal and safety issues being ignored and even defended as though they have legitimate reasons for putting people at RISK is astounding! As though it’s all about ‘the man’ getting money for inspections and a license…when the reality is – ANY ARTIST with REAL TALENT, who intends on being considered LEGIT and PROFESSIONAL or ever hopes of getting TRUE RESPECT, will do whatever it takes to BE a professional, get into a shop, learn and work.

      Keep spreading the word, man!
      There’s a lot of people out there who are ignorant and need help and guidance, before they become VICTIMS, too.
      They have NO IDEA how many scratcher tats we see and fix every day in our (professional) tattoo shops.

Comments are closed.