First Timers   |   Tattoo Questions   |   Aftercare Questions  |  Piercing   |  General/Medical

First Timers:

Q. What is the legal age to get a tattoo?

A. Washington state law requires that you must be eighteen years of age to get a tattoo. RCW 26.28.085 [1995 c 373 § 1]

Q. What type of artwork do your artists do?

A. Our artists are well-rounded and experienced in all types of artworks! However, each artist has their own personal style in their art. We suggest looking at their portfolios here.

Q. What is a consultation appointment?

A. Consultations are free and 15-minutes. It allows time for you to meet with your artist, discuss your ideas and your options, and ask any questions you may have about your tattoo or the process. The artist can take any notes/photos/tracings they might need and will give you a time and price estimate for your piece. If you’d like to go forward, our counter staff will talk to you about booking an appointment.

Q. I have a picture of what I would like done, how do I get booked with an appointment?

A. Send us an email with your design, sizing in inches, where on your body you want the tattoo, and if there are any changes you’d like to have made to the image. Once we give you a price and time quote, you’ll be able to call to schedule an appointment. Keep in mind that not all tattoos can be booked without a consultation. If we look at your image(s) and decide that you will need a consultation first, we’ll let you know. You can find contact info for each shop here.

Q. I know what I would like to have done but I need you guys to design/draw it for me.

A. All of the artists do custom work! Take a look at our artist’s portfolios and see whose style best matches what you have in mind. Once you know who you would like to work with, you can give us a call or email us to get the process started. If you’re unsure which artist to work with, send us an email with some photo references, and we’ll help you decide.

Q. Do I need to schedule the consultation with the same artist that I want to do my tattoo?

A. Yes. Each artist’s style, pace, questions, and note-taking are different. Consulting with the artist that does your tattoo ensures that they know exactly what you want and that you are on the same page.

Q. Can I book my tattoo appointment by email?

A. We do not book tattoo appointments via email. We do all bookings either by phone or in person to avoid any confusion or double bookings.

Q. I am from out of town, need a custom piece, and would like to do a consultation via email or phone.

A. If you aren’t local, we will do our best to accommodate you! Send us an email with reference photos, general sizing in inches, placement, and any other details you want included in your custom design. If you already have your trip scheduled, include your available dates in the email as well. We’ll show your email to artists whose style and availability match your request. Keep in mind that for custom work without a consultation, you will have to keep the idea general and allow plenty of room for artist interpretation.

Q.  Do you take walk-ins for tattoos?

A. We take walk-ins if we have the time available! However, it is always best to schedule an appointment to guarantee your time.

Q. What do I need to bring with me for my tattoo appointment?

A. We will need a valid form of state or federal ID (Driver’s License, Military ID, or Passports are all accepted). Make sure that you’re well fed and hydrated beforehand, and wear clothing that will allow access to the area to be tattooed.

Q. Does it hurt? 

A. Everyone’s definition of “hurt” is different because everyone feels pain differently. We promise to do everything we can to make you as comfortable as possible.

Q. Do you use numbing creams?

A. We don’t typically recommend the use of numbing creams. They change the texture of your skin making it harder to tattoo. Most of them don’t last very long and when it wears off the pain comes all at once. In our experience it’s much more manageable to ease your way into the pain.

Q. How much does a tattoo cost?

A. Tattoo pricing varies depending on the tattoo. Our Shop minimum is $150. Tattoos finished in one session are priced outright by the artist based on complexity of the design, sizing, placement, etc. Larger multiple session pieces are priced by our shop hourly rate of $200/hour. We only charge for tattoo time. The artist’s drawing and prep time, taking breaks, etc. are not charged. Washington state charges sales tax on tattoos.

To use an analogy: buying a dozen roses is cheaper than buying just one. Two different tattoos may be the same size and take the same amount of time to complete, but one may require more prep time and higher cost in materials. Sometimes smaller pieces require more time to get the details just right.

Q. Is there a charge for an artist doing a drawing?

A. There is no additional charge for custom drawing. However, you will need to leave a deposit before the artist starts on the piece. If the artist does a drawing and you do not get tattooed, the deposit goes towards the artist’s drawing time. Otherwise, the deposit goes towards the overall total of the tattoo.

Q. Can I take home a design?

A. Since we do not charge for drawings we do not let them leave the shop.

Q. Can my friends sit with me while I get tattooed?

A. We generally allow one friend back. However, it depends on the day and the amount of people in the shop. If there are too many people to have a friend back with you they can always wait in the gallery and take a look every once in a while.

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General Tattoo Questions:

Q. What happens if I need to reschedule my tattoo appointment?

A. If you need to reschedule your appointment, please give us as much notice as possible. Rescheduling with plenty of notice will not affect your deposit. If you cancel within 24 hours of the appointment or don’t show up, you will forfeit a portion of your deposit.

Q. What happens if I change my mind about what I want to have tattooed after an artist has done a drawing for me?

A. To start a new drawing, you will need to leave a new deposit.

Q. What’s in the tattoo ink?

A. Alcohol, distilled water, glycerin, and color numbers.

Q. Is it possible to be allergic to the ink?

A. Allergic reactions to tattoo ink are extremely rare. Those who do have an adverse reaction most commonly get a little itchier from reds and magentas. If you are concerned you might have an adverse reaction, we suggest consulting a dermatologist before getting tattooed.

Q. Are all of your artists always booked out really, really far?

A. Availability varies from artist to artist. We often have openings within a few days and take walk-ins when we have time. However, it is always best to schedule an appointment to guarantee your time.

Q. What if the artist I want to book with is booked out really far, is there any way to get in sooner?

A. Once you’ve booked your tattoo appointment, you can ask to be put on that artist’s cancellation list. Cancellations are not guaranteed, but they do happen!

Q. I want an existing tattoo covered up or reworked. What should I do?

A. An in-person consultation is always recommended to assess and discuss your options. Be advised that not all tattoos are possible to cover up or rework, and the artist might recommend starting with laser treatments. As far as choosing an artist, all our artists are very experienced with cover-ups and do an excellent job! Choose someone whose style matches what you have in mind for your new tattoo.

Q. I want a scar or stretch marks covered with a tattoo. What should I do?

A. We will need to know how old the scar is and have one of our artists look at the scar to determine whether it can be covered with a tattoo. An in-person consultation is always recommended to assess and discuss your options.

Q. I had a tattoo done by an artist at your shop and would like to get it touched up.

A. We do free touch-ups within the first six months of getting the tattoo. We do not offer free touch ups for tattoos on hands, fingers, or feet.

Q. I need a tattoo touched-up but it was not done at your shop.

A. Send us an email with a current photo of your tattoo. We’ll show it to our artists and go over your options.

Q. What is a guest artist?

A. A “guest artist” is an artist who is traveling and in town working at our shop for a limited time. All guest artists at Slave to the Needle are highly competent, well versed in their art form, and just as skilled and experienced as our regular artists.

Q. Will your artists do completely white tattoos?

A. Due to the unpredictability of the healed outcome, our artists refrain from doing all white tattoos.

Q. What other types of tattoos do your artists not do?

A. Facial tattoos, finger bands, genitalia, ears, lips, palms of hands, bottom of feet, and toes. Some of our artists are willing to do tattoos on fingers, hands, and necks, but in most cases only on heavily tattooed people and only with a consultation appointment beforehand.

Q. Do you guys do tattoos with ultraviolet/blacklight or “glow in the dark” ink?

A. No.

Q. Is it customary to tip my artist?

A. Tips are not expected but always appreciated!

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Tattoo Aftercare:

Q. What should I expect while the tattoo is healing?

A. Tattoos take between 2-4 weeks to fully heal. The first few days your tattoo will be red, irritated, swollen, warm-to-the-touch, and possibly bruised; this is all normal. It is also normal for some of the ink to collect under the bandage or blot off onto your towel after a shower. By the 4th or 5th day into the healing process your tattoo will begin to flake and peel. It is very important that you do not pick or scratch at it! A light slap will suffice when itching occurs. After the flaking is done the skin will look shiny for a few weeks.

Q. How do I take care of my tattoo?

A. At the time of your tattoo appointment your artist will go over the aftercare process with you in detail and will send you home with an info sheet. You can also find aftercare info here.

Q. After I get tattooed can I still workout?

A. Absolutely! Make sure to wear loose fitting clothing over the tattoo and keep it clean. Be especially careful if you workout at a gym.  New tattoos are susceptible to infection and contacting your fresh tattoo to sweaty gym equipment used by numerous people presents a definite risk of infection.

Q. How do I keep my tattoo looking new?

A. Once your tattoo is healed, the best methods for keeping your tattoo looking new is by regularly moisturizing and using sunblock.

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Piercing Questions:

Q. What hours do you pierce?

A. We have a piercer on shift at the Ballard shop from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm every day. Please book an appointment to guarantee your time. You can either call the Ballard shop to set up an appointment at 206–789–2618, or book online.

Q. What do I need to bring with me for my piercing appointment?

A. Valid state issued ID.

For individuals under 18 we will do certain ear/body/facial piercings with a parent/legal guardian PRESENT with proof of age and legal guardianship. The easiest way to do this is if both the parent and minor have valid state issued IDs (Drivers license, State ID, Passport or Military ID, etc.) with matching last names and addresses.

If your last names or addresses don’t match we will need you to bring something to prove the relationship like an official birth certificate, insurance cards, or court papers. If the minor doesn’t have a state issued ID we also take a current school ID, current yearbook, etc. along with one of the documents listed above.

Q. How old do I have to be to get a piercing?

A. Earlobes- 8 years and older

Nostril and Eyebrow- 14 years and older

Septum, Navel, Helix, Tragus, Conch, Lip- 16 years and older

Other ear piercings, Tongue, Nipples, Genital and Surface piercings- 18 years and older

We want to feel that the person we are piercing is able to care for it properly. We reserve the right to request a consultation or refuse service.

Q. Which piercings can I get with parental permission?

A. Earlobes, nostril, eyebrow, septum, navel, helix, tragus, conch, and lip.

Q. How do I take care of my piercing?

A. At the time of your appointment your piercer will go over the aftercare process with you in detail. We will also send you home with a card laying out the same info. Aftercare involves avoiding any sort of movement of the jewelry, direct pressure on the affected tissue, keeping soaps/chemicals/ointments off your fresh piercing, and irrigating with a sterile saline spay as needed to relive irritation or loosen debris. You can also find aftercare info here.

Q. What is the standard jewelry gauge for most piercings?

A. Between 16 and 12 gauge.

Q. Can I use my own jewelry for a piercing?

A. We will not put jewelry in anyone that has been worn by anyone else. If you would like to bring in jewelry to be sterilized for a fresh piercing, we require the jewelry be brought in at least 24 hours ahead of time to inspect, clean, and sterilize. There is a $10.00 sterilization fee when providing your own jewelry.

Jewelry for initial piercing must meet industry and APP standards. Piercings may only be preformed with the following materials:

  • ASTM F136 Titanium
  • ASTM F67 Commercially pure titanium
  • ASTM F138 Stainless steel
  • Pure niobium
  • 14k-18k solid gold that is free of nickel and is alloyed to be biocompatible
  • Platinum
  • Lead free glass/quartz glass

Jewelry for initial piercings must have a mirror polish free of scruffs, scratches, nicks, and any surface debris or polishing compound. Threaded jewelry must be internally threaded. Flared jewelry must be single flared with an O-ring to secure the piece. Rings must have a secure captive or fixed bead. Jewelry with no backing like a nostril screw or septum retainer that has an angle to prevent movement can be used where appropriate. Threadless internal push-pin style barbells are also acceptable. Jewelry with gemstones must be press set, free of glues or adhesives, and all gems must be lead free. Piercers at Slave to the Needle will under no circumstances start a piercing with any jewelry that doesn’t meet these standards. We reserve the right to refuse to pierce with/insert any jewelry we feel is not appropriate.

 Q. How soon can I go in the water after I get pierced

A. Once your piercing is completely healed. Healing time varies for different kinds of piercings and from person to person.

Q. How much do piercings cost?

A. You can see our pricing chart here.

Q. Does it hurt? Do you use any numbing agents?

A. We do not use any kind of numbing agents. Everyone’s definition of “hurt” is different because everyone feels pain differently. We promise to do everything we can to make you as comfortable as possible.

Q. Can my friends watch while I get a piercing?

A. One person (must be at least 18-years-old) is allowed in the piercing room with you. If you are a minor, your parent/guardian must accompany you during your piercing.

Q. Can I record or photograph during the piercing?

A. Still photos in the piercing room are allowed at the piercers discretion. We do ask that you make sure your flash is off and that you not take any video in the piercing room.

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General/Medical Questions:

Q:  Are there any health conditions that might affect my tattoo or piercing?

A:  Any health problem that weakens your immune system such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS etc. may potentially make your healing much slower or impossible.  Furthermore, if you were to get an infection, it could be much more difficult to deal with.

Q:  Can I get tattooed/pierced if I am pregnant?

A:  No.  For the safety of you and your child we will not tattoo or pierce anyone who is pregnant.

Q. Can I get tattooed/pierced if I am breastfeeding?

A. It is best to wait until you are no longer breastfeeding to get a tattoo/piercing. If you were to get an infection during the healing process, there is a remote possibility that it could be transmitted to your child.

Q:  Do you ever require a doctor’s note prior to having a procedure performed?

A:  Yes.  Certain heart disorders can make you vulnerable to infective endocarditis.  If you ordinarily take antibiotic prophylaxis before having dental work done, you should speak with your doctor before having a piercing done.  Additionally, if you are on certain blood-thinning medications, you should speak with your doctor before being pierced or tattooed.  If you have a condition that makes you concerned about your healing process you should consult with your doctor first.

Download and Print the Physician Acknowledgement Form

Q:  What about skin conditions or a sunburn?

A:  If you have scars, psoriasis, eczema, or other skin abnormalities in the area where you would like to have work done, we will suggest you come in and speak with an artist/piercer before having a procedure done.  They will give you their opinion and/or any advice they feel is necessary.  If you are sunburned, we will not be able to tattoo you until it is completely healed.

Q. Do you reuse needles for tattoos and piercings?

A. Absolutely not! All needles are disposed of after each use in a special sharps container that is picked up by an outside service. The new needles are sterilized before use and remain in a sealed sterile pouch until the time of use.

Q. How do you sterilize equipment?

A. Tools are put through an ultrasonic cleaning cycle, thoroughly scrubbed and dried, and put through a full cycle in a spore tested steam autoclave. The autoclave sterilizes with a combination of heat (in the form of steam) under pressure to render the items inside sterile.

Q. What’s a spore test? Why is it done?

A. This is a test done on our autoclave by an outside lab to ensure that the machine is working properly.

Q. Are children allowed in the shop?

A. No. Due to the nature of our business we feel it is best not to allow children in the shop without exception.

Q. Can I donate blood after getting tattooed or pierced?

A. Yes, at most clinics. Download and bring this form with you.

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