How to Choose a Tattoo Shop

How to Choose a Tattoo Shop

How-to-Choose-a-Tattoo-Shop-Vancouver-Toronto

Given that you have just searched “how to choose a tattoo shop” you are likely on the verge of getting your very first tattoo – so congratulations! Exciting times aside, it can be a bit daunting deciding how to choose the best studio in a city (from Vancouver to Toronto), for you. We get that, which is why we have put together a short but succinct guide on how to pick a parlor that won’t leave you scarred from the experience, literally and figuratively.

7 Things to Look for When Choosing a Tattoo Studio Near You

1. Diverse Tattooist Portfolio

The first thing you need to look at, is the artist portfolio section on the candidate shop’s website. You want to see some serious diversity folks, a shop with tattooists that deliver designs in various styles and disciplines so that you can get what you want, even if you don’t quite know what that is yet. And yes, there are a lot of unique styles out there, including (but not exclusive to) traditional, neo-traditional, realism, tribal, new school, Japanese, celtic, blackwork, bio-mechanical, color, cartoon, and oh-so much more.

2. A Suite of Full (Related) Services

There’s something comforting in knowing that a tattoo shop offers a diverse array of services. It tells you that a studio knows its stuff. What are those complementary (to tattoo) services? For one, body piercing, but there’s also cosmetic tattooing (aka permanent make-up) and even more importably, laser tattoo removal. The latter is especially relevant. Not only does it show that a given shop knows the pains of living with a bad tattoo that may have come from making a less-educated choice back in the day, it understands the nuances of the epidermis.

Think about it, anyone can apply ink-to-skin with a modified ballpoint BIC, a YouTube tutorial, and some gumption, but only a true tattoo expert can provide safe recourse for otherwise permanent ink on human skin.

3. Commitment to Health and Safety

In BC, a tattoo shop must abide by and maintain the tattoo and piercing safety standards laid out by the provincial government though HealthLink BC. In Toronto Ontario, the city (and province) has provided explicit guidelines on tattoo infection prevention and control that studios must adhere to. Be sure to inquire with any shop about the above to verify that they meet these standards. At Adrenaline VanCity and Toronto, we conform to and exceed all federal and provincial sterilization requirements. We encourage you to contact any one of our studios to ease any and all concerns you may have.

4. Professionalism Without Attitude

One of the biggest fears that first-time tattoo recipients have is that they’ll be treated with aloofness and/or a lack of respect by a given shop, via reception staff and the artist themselves. This is an unfortunate but real concern that has been allowed to cultivate in the cultures of some tattoo parlors around the country. Some shops simply treat newcomer walk-ins like cash grabs and show no patience when it comes to helping an individual decide upon a design style. While practically all studio website’s will claim to welcome all with open arms, be sure to call or literally walk in and gauge the vibe for yourself – you’ll soon see if the proof is in the pudding from that first consultation or conversation. Another way to investigate this, is to look to Google and Facebook Reviews, which are addressed in item #5 below.

At Adrenaline, our entire staff absolutely understands the nervous anticipation of getting that very first tattoo. You will be afforded the professional courtesy, patience, and friendliness that you need so that you will feel comfortable in taking the next step.

5. A Proven Track Record

One of the easiest ways to learn about the client experience is to reference verifiable testimonials on the matter. Have a look at the Google Reviews and Facebook Reviews for a specific studio and see if the stars align (literally) to your expectations.

But there’s more.

Business success also speaks to quality service. Has the shop’s business expanded over the years since its inception? Do some research and find out. A simple look at the Facebook brand page timeline will provide the insight you need. With two shops in Greater Vancouver, a shop along the bustling Queen Street West strip in Toronto, and another in Montreal, it’s clear that Adrenaline is doing right by its clients.

6. Purveyor of All Things Tattoo

In the same token that a full service tattoo business (which includes piercing, cosmetic tattooing, and laser removal) is more versed in all things related to the lifestyle, one can also look to other areas as further evidence.

Does the tattoo shop carry a collection of local and international “underground” brands that cater to the tattoo and piercing culture? While this by no means is required of a great tattoo parlor, it certainly provides you with some comfort that the shop is a great place to go for your first tattoo. View Adrenaline’s complete list of tattoo inspired clothing, accessory, and body jewelry brands.

7. Provides the Public with Tips, Guidelines and Up to Date Info on Tattoo Care and Culture

When you get your first tattoo, there’s a little feeling of uncertainty about aftercare and general maintenance that may follow. Sure the artist who inked you will provide some helpful instructions and invite you back for a check-up where applicable, but the what about 3 months from now? A year? While supposed answers are always an online search away, wouldn’t it be nice to tap the very source of your tattoo for this information? A studio that’s truly connected to the community and culture will deliver online content (i.e. a blog) that provides this ongoing source of helpful advice along with inspiration for future body work.


We know, we may have been leading the witness a bit with all of the above, but the inevitable conclusion here is that if you’re in the Greater Vancouver or Toronto area, Adrenaline Studios may indeed be the tattoo shop for you. Not convinced yet? No problem. Since we’re more than happy to take walk-ins, you can either pop in at your convenience for a noncommittal discussion or contact us for a free consultation. We’re here to make your first experience, which may become one of many, go as smooth as possible.