How to shop for a tattoo artist in Singapore so you can walk out with #noragrets
If recent events are anything to go by — see: the Internet getting up in Ariana Grande's charcoal barbecue grill, Zoë Kravitz's grammatically incorrect Arabic quote, and Ed Sheeran's Galway Grill — it seems no one is exempt from a tattoo fail. And while some can be attributed to many a tequila shot and a lack of impulse control, most occur due to nonexistent planning and or research, i.e. not having an idea of your tattoo design of choice, not knowing where you want to get it, and most important of all: not knowing who to get it from.
The experienced (that's about half the Buro. team, mind) can attest that a good tattoo artist is half the battle won. Tracking down a reputable one, however — who is able to give you the tattoo design and placement you want — is an all-together different matter. Nevertheless, these helpful tips should make the process of hunting one down a little smoother. Let's get shopping.
1. When in doubt, Google
To quote just about every professor and or academic authority encountered, research is paramount. The tattoo scene in Singapore is a thriving one, with artists — each with their unique style and aesthetic — abound. Most of them are sure to have an online presence, so get the ball rolling by trawling through the search results. Or, failing that, just read our meticulous research on several up-an-coming tattoo studios on our sunny shores.
2. Look at their portfolio
The equivalent of any working professional's Linkedin, an artist's work speaks volumes as to whether they'd make a good fit. Instagram is a preferred medium of choice these days, though the scrupulous can always make a trip down to the studios to catch a glimpse of works on display. After all, nothing sets off the warning bells like, a) an artist unwilling to share their portfolio; or b) an artist unwilling to broadcast happy customer testimonials on the Internet. That's shady AF.
3. Get recommendations from friends
What better way to make an informed decision than straight from the horse's mouth? Your inked-up friends should be happy to provide, but if most of your tribe is ink-adverse, the Buro. team got your back:
"Traditions Tattoo Collective has my heart. The tattoo artists — big shout-out to Anthea for the constellation along my ribs, BTW — are professional, accommodating and hella talented. Bonus points for the clean, minimalist studio space and adorable Boston Terrier, Kaykay, to help distract from the pain." — Emily Heng, Beauty Writer.
"Two of my six tattoos have been done at The Standard Tattoo Co. My advice to newbies: research more on the different styles of tattoos that are currently in the market so you can match the particular style to an artist that matches it. Feel free to experiment and go to a niche tattoo artist." — Aravin Sandran, Culture Editor.
"Johnny Two Thumb Tattoo Salon as well as Exotic Tattoos and Piercing. I found the tattoo artists at both studios really friendly and reassuring — really important for first-timers." — Corinne Cheah, Lifestyle Intern
4. Speak to as many prospective tattoo artists as possible
Not only is this great way to get a feel as to if their vision lines up with yours, it also allows you to assess your comfort level with them. And considering how you're going to be sprawled on a chair for potentially hours on end during the tattooing process, it's probably best if you vibe with them.
5. Make a trip down to their studio space
Visible dirt, gross smells, and/or abandoned needles is a big no no, and probably a huge indicator that said business isn't, uh, all that legit. According to accomplished tattoo artist Stella Luo of Golden Iron in Toronto, a good way to gauge is to take a sniff, because "a tattoo shop should smell like a hospital." Disinfectant all the way, baby.