I have just had my most recent tattoo finished. The search for a tattoo shop in Dublin was something of a hassle, because I didn't know any of them before I came here and their Facebook pages were a bit out of date. But now my tattoo is finished, I'm very happy with it, and I thought I might offer my experiences as a potential guide to people who might be considering getting some Dublin ink themselves. But first, a few pointers on what to look for when going to a tattoo studio for the first time! I have six separate tattoos now, and the artists and studios have varied greatly - so be careful when you're choosing where to get what done!
1. Is it clean? Does everything look orderly and well kept? Is the artist wearing disposable gloves? More people than I can count have had their new ink infected, and it's not always due to bad aftercare. Make sure everything is hygienic before anyone is allowed near your skin!
2. Are there portfolios available, either in the studios or online? You should look at a selection of the artist's work before booking an appointment. If you don't like his or her style on paper, you probably won't like it on your skin, either. Different artists have different styles and specialize in different motifs, so look around before you decide.
3. Do the artist and other staff make you feel welcome as a customer? Do they let you bounce ideas off them, do they speak to you in person about designs and colours? A tattoo is going to stay on your skin until you laser it off or cover it up with another tattoo, so you need to be perfectly sure about the design and location of it. I would rather trust a tattoo artist who said, "It's not going to look great on your ankle, would you consider putting it somewhere else?" than one who just shrugged and told me it was my body.
Really, these things are important - as anyone with ink probably already knows. So before I bore you all further, I will proceed to the reviews :) These are the tattoo parlours I visited, in the order that I visited them, and what I think of them:
The staff met me with a smile. I was told all about their regulations and methods, which artists were good at what style, and when they had time available for appointments. The studio and waiting room were clean and orderly, their portfolios were well stocked. This seemed like a great place to get any ink done, and it would have been my first choice if I hadn't bumped into the artist that I ended up with.
The studio turned out to be very well kept and clean-looking - when I could find them. The problem with this studio is that it occupies the basement of a completely unrelated store, and if it hadn't been for a sign on the sidewalk I never would have found it. You actually have to go through the store to get to the tattoo studio. But once I got down there, it all looked much better. The artist was very forthcoming and eager to talk about possible designs, and his portfolio looked very good. The reason why Connected Ink wasn't an option for me, is that the artist there specializes in Maori tattoos and dotwork designs, and I had something more austere and old school in mind. But if you're looking for dotwork, I can really recommend this place!
There were many reasons why I didn't have my tattoo done at Classic Ink, despite the fact that it came highly recommended by a local bartender I met. The first reason was that I never got to see the actual studio, only the waiting room, and thus I can't know if it's a health hazard or perfectly sterile. The second reason was that the artists who work there seemed horribly sexist; in the twenty minutes I was there, they managed to tell two different women that certain tattoos are only for men - or, in their own words, "We don't do those on girls." No questions asked. But the third and most important reason was that they made me feel horribly unwelcome. They made it quite clear they were uninterested in my custom. I was very interested in this studio, since I'd heard good things about it from Steve, the bartender. So I went there and tried asking about the design I had in mind. The man behind the counter told me to look at the drawings on the walls, to see if I found anything there. I tried coaxing him to look at my very rough sketch, but I am no artist, so I guess he didn't think much of it. I tried cajoling him into giving me some feedback, any at all, but to no avail. After having hung around and desperately tried to make them interested in my tattoo for twenty minutes, I left in disgust. If they have enough male customers not to care about the female ones, then good luck to them, but somehow I doubt it. I suggest any and all people interested in getting a tattoo in Dublin shun this place like the plague.
Colour Works Tattoo
This was the place I wound up getting my tattoo. It was actually a stroke of luck that I met the tattoo artist; I was in a café just after having been so rudely ignored by the people at Classic Ink, and I noticed a guy who had great tattoo sleeves sitting by the window. I went over and asked him politely where he got them. He promptly walked me to his studio; the Colour Works. Said studio is very well kept and clean-looking, with disposable gloves and cleaning equipment all over the place. They had a fairly open calendar, which suited me fine, since I wanted to get my ink as quickly as responsibly possible. The artist I had met - Sascha - was very accommodating when I told him what I wanted and where; he immediately found some designs to start off with and told me what he would like to do. It was just the sort of thing I had in mind, myself, so I set up an appointment. When I returned to get my tattoo, Sascha had drawn it up for me and explained in great detail what he thought we should do. I did my tattoo in two sessions, since I came in late the first day; one session for the black linework and another for the colours and touch-up. It healed perfectly, without a bump or scar, so I must assume he did a very good job. Also a tattoo shop I strongly recommend!