First Timers | Tattoo Questions | Aftercare Questions | Piercing | General/Medical
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 are very experienced in all types of artwork, including both custom work and flash. “Flash” is the term used to describe the design sheets that you see on the walls and in racks at tattoo studios. To check out each artist’s individual style we suggest looking at their portfolios either on this site or in each of our shops.
Q. What is a consultation appointment?
A. A consultation is a free-of-charge, scheduled, 15-minute meeting with a tattoo artist. You can discuss your ideas, bring in any reference art you may have, get a price and time estimation, and ask any questions you may have about your tattoo or the tattoo process in general. From there, if you’d like to go forward, the artist and/or counter 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. First, we will need to see the art/image you have. You can either stop by the shop to show it to us or you can email to us. In your email be sure to include: approximately what size you want the tattoo (ex: “3 inches by 4 inches,” not “medium” or “large”) where on your body you want the tattoo, and if there are any changes you’d like to have made to the image. Our email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org for Ballard, or email@example.com for Wallingford. Keep in mind that not all tattoos can be booked without a consultation. If we take a look at your image(s) and decide that you will need a consultation first, we’ll let you know.
Once we receive your email or see it in person we will give you a price and time estimation, and let you know the next available appointment time.
Q. I know what I would like to have done but I need you guys to design/draw it for me.
A. Easy enough! Just give us a call at 206-789-2618 (Ballard) or 206-545-3685 (Wallingford) and we will set you up with a consultation with one of our artists.
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 is different, so make sure to book your consultation with the artist you want to do your tattoo. This ensures that your artist knows exactly what you want and that you guys are on the same page.
Q. Can I book my appointment by email?
A. We do not book appointments via email. Emailing is great for getting price and time estimations for tattoos, and asking general questions but we do all booking either by phone or in person. If you need a consultation appointment, or once we give you a price and time estimation on your tattoo and you want to book the tattoo appointment, you will need to either call us at (206)789-2618 (Ballard) or (206)545-3685 (Wallingford) and make a deposit by credit card, or stop by the shop to book your appointment.
Q. I am from out of town, need a custom piece, and would like to do a consultation via email or phone.
A. It is often very challenging and sometimes not possible to do consultation appointments via email or phone, but you can go ahead and send us pictures and/or a description of your ideas and we will have one of our artists take a look at them to see if this is something that would be possible to book without an in-person consultation. If you are from out of state, or the country, we will try to accommodate you as best we can, but keep in mind that with custom work, you will have to keep the idea pretty general, and allow plenty of room for artist interpretation.
Q. Do you take walk-ins for tattoos?
A. We do take walk-ins if we have the time available. However, due to the busy nature of our shop it is always best to check with us first to assure that your trip to the shop is not in vain.
Q. Is there anything I need to bring with me for my tattoo appointment?
A. Make sure to bring all reference artwork pertaining to your tattoo. Also, make sure that you’re well fed and hydrated beforehand, and if not, bring food or water with you. Make sure your clothing will allow access to the area to be tattooed. We will also need a valid form of state or federal ID (Drivers License, Military ID, or Passports are all accepted).
Q. Does it hurt?
A. Everyone’s definition of “hurt” is different because everyone feels pain differently. Unfortunately, there is no real gauge for pain that we can give you without being disingenuous. Some people say that it feels like a cat scratch, and afterwards like a sun burn. Different parts of your body will be more sensitive than others, especially bony parts or areas with thin skin.
Q. How much does a tattoo cost?
A. Our Shop minimum is $150.00. A tattoo the size of a coin, or a small simple outline with no shading is usually considered a shop minimum tattoo. Tattoos that take a few hours or less are usually quoted outright by the artist. Larger tattoos (including multiple session pieces) are based on an hourly rate of $200. It’s fairly common for a custom tattoo to take 2 hours, but may cost $500 if that’s the price it was quoted at. On the other hand, a four hour tattoo done at our hourly rate would only cost $800. To use an analogy: buying a dozen roses is cheaper than buying just one, and the artist’s drawing and prep time should be taken into consideration, as we do not charge for these things. If one thinks of tattoo needles as different styles of paint brushes, two different tattoos may be the same size and take the same amount of time to complete, but one may require several different paint brushes to get a specific effect. This requires more set up/prep time, and the paint brushes (tattoo needles) are single use, resulting in a slightly higher cost in materials. Sales tax is added on to the tattoo total. We require a $50.00 non-refundable deposit in order to hold your appointment ($100 for pieces that will take two hours or more) which will be applied to the cost of your tattoo.
Q. Is there a charge for an artist doing a drawing?
A. No, there is no additional charge for custom drawing. The required $50.00 deposit ($100 for pieces that will take over 2 hours) needs to be taken before the artist starts on the piece.
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. Usually on the weekends we have a number of clients being tattooed and most of our artists here, so it tends to get a little crowded. Also, when massage tables are in use, we ask that clients refrain from having a guest back with them; due to limited space. 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.
General Tattoo Questions:
Q. What happens if I need to reschedule my tattoo appointment?
A. As long as we get at least 24 hours notice in advance we will simply roll your deposit and set you up with another tattoo appointment. But if you cancel within 24 hours of the appointment, or simply don’t show up, we will subtract $50 off 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, $50 would be forfeited from your deposit. Also, an additional $50 would be required to get you back to either $50 or $100, based on how long the tattoo will take to complete.
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. On very rare occasions people experience adverse reactions to the ink. Most commonly people get a little itchier from reds and magentas. The reaction can be similar to that of someone allergic to hair dye and should dissipate over time.
Q. I would like to schedule an appointment with Aaron.
A. Please contact our Wallingford location at 206-545-3685 or click here to send a message.
Q. Are all of your artists always booked out really, really far?
A. No, we often have openings the same day or within a few days and take walk-in appointments when we have time. But it is always best to call or email first.
Q. What if the artist I want to book with is booked out really far, is there anyway to get in sooner?
A. Unfortunately there is not, but once you’ve booked you’re tattoo appointment you can definitely ask to be put on that artist’s cancellation list, and we’ll give you a call if anything opens up sooner. It is possible for Aaron to come in on a day off at a premium rate. Contact our Wallingford location about this at 206-545-3685
Q. I want an existing tattoo covered up or reworked. What should I do?
A. We require that you come in for a consultation for any cover-up/rework. As far as choosing an artist, all of our artists are very experienced with cover-ups. It’s always good to have a few ideas of what you want to cover it up with. Once you know what you want to cover it with, the artist will be able to figure out how to cover it or let you know if you need to consider other options.
Q. I want a scar or stretch marks covered with a tattoo. What should I do?
A. We require that you come in for a consultation for any tattoos that will be going over scars or stretch marks. Many scars can be covered up, but some can not. We will need to have one of our artists take a look at your scar in person to determine whether or not it can be covered with a tattoo. As far as choosing an artist, all of our artists are very experienced with cover-ups and all do an excellent job.
Q. I had a tattoo done by an artist at your shop and would like to get it touched up.
A. We do touch-ups free-of-charge (with the exception of hands and feet) within the first six months of getting the tattoo. We will schedule your touch-up appointment with the same artist who originally did the tattoo. If your original tattoo was done by a guest artist who is no longer in town, we will book you a touch-up appointment with one of our regular artists.
Q. I need a tattoo touched-up but it was not done at your shop.
A. No problem, but we require that you come in a for a consultation first! At your consultation the artist will take a look at your tattoo, give you a quote and then you can book an appointment.
Q. What is a guest artist?
A. In the tattoo industry it is commonplace for tattoo artists to travel to other cities and work at friends’ shops. This gives you the opportunity to get tattooed by a great artist and gives them the opportunity to see Seattle and tattoo at our shop. A guest artist is not an apprentice. All guest artists at Slave to the Needle are highly competent, well versed in their art form, just as skilled and experienced as our regular artists. You will leave our shop with a top-notch tattoo no matter who tattoos you.
Q. Will your artists do completely white tattoos?
A. Most of our artists refrain from doing all white tattoos. This is due to the unpredictability of the healed outcome; which can vary greatly from person to person.
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, necks, and genitalia, 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, none of our artists use the ultraviolet/blacklight pigments because their safety has not been determined.
Q. Is it customary to tip my artist?
A. Tips are not expected but always appreciated!
Q. What should I expect while the tattoo is healing?
A. There are several reactions your skin may have to your new adornment. Your new tattoo will be red, irritated, swollen, warm-to-the-touch, and possibly bruised; this is all normal. It is also normal that some of the ink collects under the bandage or blots off onto your towel after a shower. About 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; this can truly harm your new tattoo, a light slap will suffice when itching occurs. After the flaking is done the skin will look very shiny for a few weeks.
Q. How do I take care of my tattoo?
A. Upon arrival for your tattoo we will give you a card that is labeled “tattoo aftercare.” This card is a list of our suggested aftercare for your tattoo. In addition, you will be provided with a high quality aftercare product. We suggest that you remove the bandage after several hours, wash area with a mild, unscented liquid soap and warm water, pat and air dry the tattoo, apply a thin coat of provided aftercare product several times a day. Continue washing, completely drying, and applying aftercare product several times a day until skin stops flaking. Discard aftercare product once tattoo is healed!
Q. During the healing of the tattoo DO NOT do any of the following:
A. Expose the tattoo to direct sunlight, re-bandage the tattoo (this can suffocate the tattoo, it needs air to help heal), go swimming, go in hot tubs, pools, lakes, rivers, or the ocean, expose the tattoo to excessive steam, submerge the tattoo in water including baths, shave the area, pick or scratch at the tattoo until it is fully healed. Healing time varies from person to person, but most tattoos are healed after two weeks.
Q. What should I do during the healing of the tattoo?
A. Keep your tattoo clean! Use mild liquid soap and warm water and gently wash the tattoo with your hand (no loofahs, this can scratch and harm the tattoo). Showers are a great way to do this but do not aim the spray directly on the tattoo. Some ink may come off the surface of your skin; this is completely normal and does not mean that ink is leaking or falling out of your tattoo.
Q. After I get tattooed can I still work out?
A. Absolutely! Just make sure to wear loose fitting clothing over the tattoo (rubbing can cause damage to a fresh tattoo). Also make sure that you are especially careful if you work out 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. The best method of keeping your tattoo looking new is to follow the aftercare instructions, make sure your tattoo does not become dry, to not pick at any flaking skin or mild scabbing, avoid immersing a fresh tattoo in water until it is healed, and keep your tattoo out of sunlight by keeping it covered or by using sun block once it is healed. We carry a full range of quality products that aid in keeping the colors and tones in your tattoo rich and vibrant looking.
Q. What hours do you pierce?
A.We have a piercer on shift at the Ballard shop from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm every day. Due to Covid-19 we are currently working on an appointment only basis. Please call the Ballard shop to set up an appointment 206–7 89–2618.
Q. How old do I have to be to get a piercing?
A.Earlobes- 8 years and older
Nostril, Septum and Eyebrow- 14 years and older
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 so we reserve the right to refuse service or request a consultation.
See “What do I need to bring with me for my piercing appt.?” for more about ID requirement and paperwork.
Q. Which piercings can I get with parental permission?
A. Navel, Septum, Eyebrow, Lip, and Ear.
Q. What do I need to bring with me for my piercing appt.?
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 do I take care of my piercing?
A. Upon completion of your piercing we will give you a card that is labeled “Piercing Aftercare”. This card lists our suggested aftercare for your piercing. Aftercare involves avoiding any sort of movement of the jewelry or direct pressure on the affected tissue. As well as keeping soaps, chemicals or ointments off your fresh piercing. Irrigating with a sterile saline spay as needed to relive irritation or loosen debris. The aftercare card will also have healing times and other advice for the various areas. Your piercer will go over this with you as well.
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. Certain requirements must be met before we can tell if your jewelry can be used and there is a $10.00 sterilization fee (Of course if you purchase the jewelry here, this fee is not charged). Our jewelry standard is as follows.
Jewelry for initial piercings
Jewelry for initial piercing must meet industry and APP standards. Therefore 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
- Lead free glass/quartz glass
Jewelry for initial piercings must also 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 and free of glues or adhesives, all gems must be lead free. Piercers at Slave to the Needle will under no circumstances start a piercing with any jewelry that is externally threaded, has a unacceptable polish or finish, is made of a material that is not confidently know and able to be conformed or has a clip style backing.
Jewelry for stretching healed piercings
Jewelry for initial stretching is the same as the standard for fresh piercings with the addition of high polish single flared stone plugs that may be used at the piercers discretion.
We will not put jewelry in anyone that has been worn by anyone else.
If someone 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.
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. You can ask before hand about heal times and it will be written on aftercare card.
Q. How much do piercings cost?
A. You can see our pricing chart here.
Q. Does it hurt and 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, but it’s probably not as bad as you think.
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.
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. No, 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, such as coumadin or heparin, 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: Well, 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. We have a ‘ single use’ policy. 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, they are thoroughly scrubbed and dried, and then the tools are 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. The tests are done on a weekly basis to determine the presence of spore growth in a test load because spores are the largest and hardest particles to destroy. We have been doing this since 1995.
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.