You would be forgiven for assuming that your UK tattoo artist has a licence related to their skill and experience. Or that there is a program of hygiene inspections much like there is for the food industry.
While it is a legal requirement for your tattoo artist and studio to be registered with the council in which they operate, the requirements are woefully basic. They also vary from council to council. Non industry-specific inspectors carry out a registration inspection by appointment for new studios and artists. Unless there is a serious complaint neither are inspected again. There is no legal and nationally recognised training requirement. There is no ongoing training requirement to ensure artists keep up with best practice.
We are part of an industry experiencing record growth. Tattoo industry experts place that rise in excess of 10% per year. Spend any time on social media or your local high street and the explosion of this industry is hard to miss.
Unfortunately, this has not led to an adequately regulated industry in the UK.
Why am I telling you this? Because once you know the responsibility for vetting your artist’s practices falls to you, you’re in a great position to start narrowing down your artist choices.
Materials at Nomad Ink
We only use the highest quality market leading products for both the tattoo procedure and for the hygienic set up, all of which meets EU standards of quality. This mark of quality is something we will continue to look for post Brexit. We only use single use needle cartridges that are opened from their sterile packaging in front of you. We carry out independent research around the needle cartridges we use to ensure their design and engineering protects the inside of the tattoo machine. This minimises the risk of cross contamination.
We cover our tattoo machines in plastic pockets before wrapping in disposable grip wrap. We cover all cables and power packs in single use disposable plastic. Artists dismantle their tattoo machines to clean and sterilise them inside and out after every tattoo.
We use single use full bed covers on every tattoo (as opposed to cling film) so that it will not move or tear. These are heavy duty covers that protect the entire tattoo bed from blood borne contamination. We wrap our equipment and tables in heavy duty black wrap (again as opposed to cling film) for the same reason. This wrapping also stands up to the isopropyl alcohol used to clean it.
We take care to minimise skin irritants. The more natural the product, the less drying (and more soothing) it is for the skin. We use 70% isopropyl alcohol to sterilise the skin before and after your tattoo; the same as that used in hospitals. We use gentle green soap for cleaning the skin before, during and after your tattoo.
We do not use vaseline during the tattoo procedure. Tattoo artists use a small amount of lubricating product on the skin as they tattoo and our preference is a product called ‘Think‘. No drying. No irritation. Very little chance of allergic reactions.
We argue that aftercare is every bit as important as the tattoo process. Our aftercare procedure starts before you walk through the studio door. Our studio manager will send you aftercare information days in advance, giving you the chance to understand what we recommend so you can ask your artist any questions on the day. She is also on hand for a quick response to any queries or concerns in the weeks after your tattoo.
We apply a medical grade protective covering to your new tattoo. We do not charge for this. This film creates a thin and breathable second skin protecting your tattoo from infection. You leave this in place for 24-48 hours, after which we recommend you change it for a clean piece (purchased at the studio in sealed packets) to stay on the skin for a further few days.
Why don’t we charge for this initial protective wrap?
As well as protecting you from infection it also helps your new tattoo heal as the artist intends. It protects fine lines and subtle shading from ‘healing out’ during those first few weeks. If you’re walking around with a tattoo from us we want it to remain at its best. The healing process is key to that.
Tattoo Artist Training
All artists at Nomad Ink have been part of a formal apprenticeship at other studios, or have carried out their apprenticeship with us. This is an industry expectation to reduce the number of ‘scratchers’ on our high street – scratchers being tattooers who don’t learn the basics of technique and hygiene from experienced artists in established studios. Working in a relatively unregulated industry can be problematic because anyone can set up a tattoo studio with no formal training. Or worse, with poor training leading them to believe their practices are adequate.
Everyone who works at Nomad Ink, whether tattoo artist or not, has completed online training specifically in tattoo safety and hygiene practices. We renew this every 12 months to ensure up to date information and best practice.
Our artists are also encouraged to look beyond their own knowledge and keep learning. Including investing in online seminars or to attend live ‘advanced techniques’ seminars with the world’s best tattoo artists. Trends, products and standards are moving all the time. Our artists remain inspired and influenced by experts in this field. Ongoing training also helps ensure best tattoo technique and so no unnecessary skin trauma. The quicker the healing the less chance of infection.
Tattoo Studio Setup
Each artist at Nomad Ink has their own room. Why is this important? Having private tattoo rooms separate from the public areas of the studio means those passing through or visiting are nowhere near where you are being tattooed. Your artist can easily control how many people (and their bags/coats etc) are passing through the sterile space.
We do not have inks or other tattoo materials out on display. Only sterile hands access them, reducing chance of cross contamination.
We do not allow back to back tattoo appointments. Most of the work carried out at Nomad Ink is large scale, and so one person with one artist for the full day. However on days where shorter appointments are booked there will always be at least one hour between the end of the last appointment and the start of the next one. This allows for thorough cleaning between clients and ensures neither the appointments, cleaning process or set up procedure are rushed.
A Couple of Rules. Or Promises.
No dogs. You would think this goes without saying but you’d be surprised by how many tattoo studios have a resident pooch. I have seen tattoo artists stroke their dog with their gloved hand and then continue to work. As if that glove is there to protect them from their client, not the other way around. I have also seen the resulting infection.
We love dogs, probably more than we love people. But this is a tattoo studio where we will be piercing your skin thousands of times. The environment should be as sterile as practicable. You would not expect to find a dog in an acupuncture clinic, for example. However pictures of dogs and all talk of your family canine is very much encouraged. Compulsory, even.
No drugs or alcohol. Or hangovers. You might expect that to be another given. However for some, drugs and alcohol are all part of the tattoo scene. There are many who wouldn’t dream of coming to a tattoo studio where they can’t enjoy a beer or a blaze with their tattoo artist. That is entirely up to them and everyone’s taste in artist and studio is different. You will find what works for you. But at Nomad Ink we are not rock stars. Unfortunately.
For most, going to a tattoo studio for a new piece of body art is a safe and exciting experience. Once you know what to expect in terms of tattoo safety you can get to the good bit – design!
We look forward to seeing you soon.
What our customers say...
"My tattoo is fantastic. It is exactly the piece I have always wanted…Both Jo and Lewis make you feel so welcome and the whole experience is just so professional. I couldn’t recommend Nomad Ink enough."
"I would 100% recommend Nomad...I showed them a tattoo and they have managed to transform it into something incredible the service that I got was amazing. I was so relaxed on getting the tattoo. I will be definitely going there again...I can’t thank them enough."
"I have had majority of my many many tattoos done by Lewis at Nomad Ink. From start to finish, the customer experience is fantastic, every time. No matter if you’re a brand new or a returning customer, the service you receive is second to none... Lewis was able to take my ideas and produce art that was beyond anything I could have imagined."
"Absolutely top service before, during and after from all at Nomad Ink…Lewis is a top artist and a real professional about his work."
"I rang today to make enquiries and was greeted by such a helpful friendly voice...We had an idea what me & my Mum wanted and Chaz sketched it out for us and with a few little tweaks we came to a design that we loved... was spotlessly clean. I wouldn't hesitate to go there again & I would highly recommend them to family and friends."
"Would highly recommend to anyone to go here for a tattoo. I seen Sophie who was amazing at taking my ideas and bringing them to life. The shop is really relaxing and a not intimidating at all like some tattoo shops can be. Will 100% be going back here for my next tattoo!"
"Brilliant service and excellent experience. I was so pleased that Nomad Ink fitted me in for a tattoo whilst I was visiting family. I won't be getting my tattoo's from anywhere else now. I will travel 500 miles again for Sophie to do my next one, she was amazing."
"I have many tattoos from Nomad Ink, my latest ones being from their new artist Chaz, he's an incredible artist. He's so friendly and professional. They all have their own rooms which is why I chose Nomad in the first place, I just sit back and relax watching a few films. You feel in such safe hands."
"Lewis is an incredible artist and Jo has been fantastic in answering all my questions, sorting bookings, recommending best aftercare etc."
"Brilliant work from the guys at Nomad, Done my tattoo exactly how I asked to be done and offered a variety of different ideas to fit my needs. The owner also keeps in contact afterwards to make sure you are satisfied and to make sure you are looking after your new ink. Definitely going again. Spot on guys!!"
"I'm so glad I have found Nomad ink! Excellent customer service from Jo during enquiry to tattoo, friendly and great at putting nervous customers at ease. Covid regulations all in place and Sophie is a fabulous artist I love my tattoo. Thank you."