Thinking About Ink? How to Get a Tattoo During the Pandemic

Thinking About Ink? How to Get a Tattoo During the Pandemic

Though we remain in a global pandemic, getting a tattoo is still quite the commitment. There is much thought and research that goes into the whole tattooing process. You must choose the piece, decide on placement, research studios and artists, determine the cost and more! With all the COVID-19 precautions in place, it can feel quite overwhelming to get a tattoo.

To ease your mind and maybe give you that final push to get that tattoo you’ve been wanting, I chatted with Morgan Grimm and Paul Sackman. Morgan co-owns Welcome Tattoo – a bright and (you guessed it) welcoming tattoo studio on West Geer St. in Durham. Paul is a five-year veteran tattoo artist who has worked at Welcome Tattoo for the past year. On top of chatting with these experts, I actually got a tattoo from Paul just the other week.

So, I have some advice on how to get a tattoo during the pandemic because I did it myself. This advice is tried and tested.

From March to Now

Back in March, Welcome Tattoo closed down before North Carolina’s mandated shutdowns. Morgan said, “We realized quickly that the virus was going to be extremely serious. There was so much unknown at that time, the responsible thing to do was close our doors.”

Then in May, when the state moved into Phase 2, Morgan made the decision to reopen Welcome’s doors. Along with required social distancing, increased cleaning and COVID-19 protocols, “Welcome Tattoo is now appointment only,” Morgan said. “And we only allow one client per tattooer. This allows us to control the number of people in the shop at one time.” Today, the shop allows a maximum of eight people inside at one time.

A fan-favorite tradition at Welcome, though, is their “Walk in Saturday” tattooing. Historically, clients could just come on in and wait to get a tattoo. They restructured this practice so that clients “sign up on Saturday morning creating a same-day appointment.” This change creates a modified, safety-first version of the well-loved tradition.

tattoo pandemic Welcome Tattoo
Image courtesy of Welcome Tattoo.

Before COVID-19, Paul stated, “The shop was busy, with lots of folks coming in and out, asking questions, getting tattooed, or just looking at flash on the walls.” Nowadays, things feel quite different during a typical day at Welcome Tattoo. He continued, “The rhythm of the shop is different, since we are only allowing one person per appointment and ensure a minimum distance of six feet. We lock the front door so that there is no free traffic in or out of the shop.”

While it may seem quieter, Paul notes that the shop remains “consistently busy.” Since many of the artists already had their schedules booked out before the shutdowns, they’ve been slowly and steadily working to safely reschedule everyone who had an appointment and schedule any new clients for the near future.

The Tattoo Process for the Pandemic

Even though the process of scheduling and getting a tattoo may be a bit different, Grimm gives the same advice for tattoo preparation: “COVID or not, I recommend clients get a good sleep, drink plenty of water, eat a meal prior to the appointment, and come relaxed and in comfortable clothing.”

Once arriving at the shop for your appointment, Welcome Tattoo requires that you “come alone…wear a mask and wash [your] hands upon arrival.” Should you exhibit any symptoms at the time of your appointment, the staff will ask you to leave.

For the tattooer, Paul said, “Before an appointment begins, I am equipped with a mask, hands are sanitized and the station is wiped down with germicidal solutions.”

Whether you get a small or large tattoo, both artists and clients wear masks and maintain a reasonable distance. Once the appointment ends and the client’s tattoo receives the proper bandages, Paul explained, “I throw out all the contaminated materials, change gloves, wipe down [the] station with COVID-killing ‘Super Sani’ cloths, and ensure a dry time of six minutes.” After all that has been done, “more hand washing” ensues.

My Tattoo Experience in the Pandemic

I had such a great experience getting tattooed by Paul at Welcome Tattoo in July that I came back for another tattoo a few weeks ago. They not only made me feel safe with COVID-19 safety precautions, but they also offer a wonderful environment.

After scheduling my tattoo with Morgan over the phone, I received a confirmation email and text updates. On the day of the appointment, I made sure to drink plenty of water, eat a substantial meal an hour before and wear comfortable clothes – and my mask!

Once at Welcome, Morgan let me in and instructed me to thoroughly wash and dry my hands at the hand-washing station. After washing my hands and filling out some paperwork, I waited in the front waiting area until Paul had the tattoo stencil all ready to go.

Image courtesy of McGee Bosworth.

Once Paul had prepared, I headed back to his station. During my appointment, only one other person received a tattoo. There were only five of us in the spacious studio — all masked up. I felt 100% comfortable.

In total, my little tattoo only took about five or so minutes to complete. While Paul and I were sitting face-to-face, we were both wearing our masks and remaining relatively quiet. Then he bandaged my arm, gave me thorough instructions on how to care for it and escorted me to the front door.

All in all, I was in the studio for about an hour, start to finish. Paul did a wonderful job and I love my piece – I’ve received so many compliments on his incredible fine-line work.

The Takeaways

Getting a tattoo is quite a commitment, but you shouldn’t be too afraid to get the piece you’ve always wanted. Even when we’re not in a global pandemic, there are precautions for both the artist and the canvas. Now that we are in a pandemic, you have to wear a mask and hand wash—so consider those new rules before booking an appointment.

Welcome Tattoo has gone above and beyond to not only follow but exceed safety and health precautions. If you want to get a tattoo but you feel worried about the pandemic, call the studio ahead of time. Ask questions about their safety protocols.

If you’re considering getting a tattoo in North Carolina, I cannot recommend Welcome Tattoo more. Check out the studio’s Instagram account, as well as Paul’s individual account, to learn more about their tattooing magic!

Be sure to check out more of our lifestyle and health articles, if you want to learn about NC’s safety precautions. For instance — do you know how to safely visit your dentist during COVID-19? How about visiting a North Carolina chiropractor? We have you covered for returning to life in public.