Sexual Harassment & Tattoo Shops

What is normal? Options for if you feel uncomfortable

In recent years, public discussion about sexual harassment in tattoo shops has become a national discussion. As more stories continue to pop up the news occasionally, we want to make sure that all of our clients feel safe and comfortable. We also want to make sure tattoo clients across the nation know what is and isn’t normal tattoo shop behavior.

What is Normal for a Typical Tattoo Shop?

It’s important for clients to recognize what is considered normal in the industry. Please refer to the following list:

  • It is not normal to ask you to remove more clothing than necessary to ensure that your clothing doesn’t contact the tattooed skin. You are encouraged to wear halters, shorts, button downs, or whatever you want to remain as clothed as you feel comfortable. If you are getting a sternum tattoo that makes it so that you can’t be covered as much as you’d like, you will be offered lap cloths and tape so that you can go into the restroom and adhere covering.
  • It is not normal to be asked to fully undress for a portfolio picture in the shop. While you are welcome to take your own photos somewhere else, you should not be asked to be fully undress for a portfolio photo.
  • A tattoo artist will need to touch you during the tattooing process. They may need to move clothing or even for example your arm. They will need to stretch your skin out. They may end up resting their arm on your body or asking you to move into a different position. It is not normal to for an artist to grope your body or ask you to sit or stand in a provocative way for the tattooing process or for the portfolio picture.
  • It is not normal for a tattoo artist to be in the tattoo chair with you for any reason.
  • Banter, even flirtatious banter or adult-themed banter- at a tattoo shop is normal. A tattoo studio isn’t a doctors’ office or a school, so sometimes discussions can turn into lighthearted conversations like you might hear on South Park. It is an adult establishment, so conversations aren’t always G-rated. Artists do swear and joke around. Artists aren’t employees but rather individual business owners, so they frequently treat each other as close friends instead of like co-workers. With that said, we want all of our clients to be comfortable, so if something is said that makes you uncomfortable or if music being played makes you feel uneasy, let your artist know.
  • Our shop is run by appointment only, so it’s not uncommon that you could be alone with an artist in The Shop. If that makes you uncomfortable, you are welcome to bring a guest with you. You should also know that the entire shop is under video surveillance.
  • While our artists are free to tattoo their girlfriends /boyfriends/ husbands /wives for free, it is not normal or appropriate for a tattoo artist that you are not currently involved with to offer you discounted tattoos or free tattoos if you will go on a date with them, send them a sexy photo, or perform a sexual favor.
  • It is normal for an artist to contact you by text, social media or phone before your appointment or afterwards to check on the healing of your tattoo. It is not normal for them to repeatedly contact or otherwise harass you on a personal non-tattoo related level with unwanted advances though.
  • It is very common and normal for a tattoo artist to ask you for a photo of the area that will be tattooed so that they can plan their design. It’s also common for them to ask to see photos of your other tattoos to try to create a streamlined effect of styles and colors.
  • While your artist may offer you a pain killer like Tylenol or Motrin, your artist should not ever offer you any opiates or barbiturates. It is not normal or legal for an artist to offer you prescription drugs before your tattoo.
  • If a client, especially a regular client, and an artist hits it off, it’s not unheard of that the artist might invite the client out for a drink at the local pub or to join them for a bite to eat either in the shop or at a nearby restaurant. It is not normal for an artist to pressure you to hang out with them though.

What To Do If You’ve Been Sexually Harassed/ Sexually Exploited/ Sexually Assaulted

If you feel that you have been sexually harassed, you should reach out to the shop manager as quickly as possible. You can file a report to be included in the artists file and discuss what steps we can do to ensure that it doesn’t happen to you or anyone else again. If you email management, it can be kept confidential if you wish and your name can be redacted from the actual filed report.

If you’ve felt uncomfortable with a particular artist for any reason at all, even something that wouldn’t constitute harassment, we can schedule your tattoo appointments moving forward on days when that artist won’t be in The Shop.

If you have been sexually exploited, such as having been tricked into sending an explicit photograph for lewd purposes, please contact the management immediately and then contact the police.

If you’ve been sexually assaulted, you should contact management immediately so that we can save video evidence and you should contact the police.


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