Coronavirus has been a struggle for all of us. Although we don't like to admit it, many tattoo shops have suffered during these lockdowns. But as things start to change for the better, it's a great time to start thinking about your next tattoo design.

Post Pandemic Tattoo Planning

During the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, the word “essential” became a refrain we heard all of the time. Anything that wasn’t capable of being described with it got pushed aside as the public sphere struggled to function at the bare minimum level in order to limit the risk of spreading the virus. People sitting at home for months on end, unable to get a haircut or even see their families, it’s no surprise that the tattoo industry took a big hit.

After all, even those of us who live and breathe tattooing as a meaningful form of self-expression and a lifestyle can recognize that getting new tattoos isn’t necessary in an emergency situation. It may have been disappointing for people who were excited to get new tattoos in 2020, but it made sense.

But now, hope is on the horizon. With new health guidelines and millions of people receiving the COVID-19 vaccine every day, we’re starting to see our friends and families. We’re starting to get haircuts. And, most excitingly of all, tattoo shops are opening up and taking clients again.

So if you’re one of the many people who has just been itching to get a new tattoo this past year, here is what you can expect when you finally get to make the exciting first “post-pandemic” trip to the tattoo studio.

Tattooing During Coronavirus

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus lockdowns in March 2020, the tattoo industry has gone through a lot of significant changes. Like almost every sector, tattoo shops closed down completely when lockdowns were first announced. As we waited day by day, week by week, for updates about how long we could expect this pandemic to last and it started to become clear that this was not the short-term, temporary situation we hoped it would be, tattoo customers, artists, and shop owners began wondering about what was next.

When could tattoo shops be opened up again? What would it look like to get a tattoo during the pandemic? Will the experience of getting a tattoo be changed forever?

We started getting answers in the summer of 2020, when many tattoo shops began to open up in limited capacity. Gone were the days of walk-in tattoos. And in were the days of tremendous caution, even beyond the usual high levels of sanitization that proper tattoo studios are known for.

Empty tattoo shop chair

In order to financially survive under these circumstances, artists and shops often had to raise minimums and prices in general, and getting a tattoo appointment on the books became a bit trickier.

And that was more or less what things looked like when vaccines started to roll out in the winter and spring of 2021… which brings us to today. As of the writing of this article, about 40% of Americans have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. And along with that, things are finally starting to open up in a way they haven’t been for over a year. We’re optimistically looking to the future and imagining a “return to normal.” So what does that mean for the tattooing industry? Is it going to look like how it used to?
Though each salon ultimately made and continues to make its own guidelines, some trends emerged in how tattoo shops approached pandemic tattooing. Customers had to have their temperatures taken before entering a shop and were asked to wear masks the entire time they were inside. Artists were also expected to wear masks and/or face shields. The number of people allowed into the studio at any time was limited, meaning that you could no longer bring a friend in for emotional support. The tattooing stations were moved further – at least six feet – from one another.

Tattoo Shops Post-Lockdown

The answer is… probably not. In fact, our world as a whole is likely to have some permanent changes as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. And while the tattooing industry has always been very careful about health, we’ve learned that it’s always possible to be more careful. So here are just some of the changes you can expect to see in tattoo shops in the post-lockdown period.

First, the sad truth is that it’s very possible that some of your favorite tattoo shops have closed down since the start of the pandemic. After all, three out of ten U.S. businesses report not expecting to survive 2021. That being said, if your local tattoo shop that you love hasn’t shut down because of the pandemic and you want to make sure it doesn’t have to, scheduling a tattoo appointment soon can be a great way to support them – as well as to treat yourself.

It’s also worth noting that if your local studio has closed, you might still be able to get an appointment for a tattoo from your favorite local artists, as many have moved to private studios as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, even artists who weren’t forced to do this because their home studio closed may still have chosen to because it gives them more control over the environment that they’re working in and the clients that they’re working with. So in order to be absolutely sure about where to catch your favorite tattoo artists, contacting them directly may be a good idea.

Either way, getting an appointment for a tattoo after the Coronavirus lockdowns might be just as hard as it was during the pandemic if not harder because demand is up so high right now. That’s right, after being cooped up and prevented from getting tattoos for so many months, you’re not the only one itching to get some ink put into your skin.

But as demand for tattoos will go up, it’s likely that many shops are still going to remain on an appointment-only policy, meaning that the number of tattoos done in any given day will still remain lower relative to what it was before the pandemic. So with more demand and less supply, you can expect tattoos to be harder to get and maybe a bit more expensive.

But, don’t worry, your local tattoo shops and artists want to give you tattoos as much as you want to get them, so as long as you stay patient and follow all of their policies, you should be able to get your appointment and that new ink you’ve been craving.

Do You Need to Be Vaccinated to Get a Tattoo?

Now, let’s talk about one of the bigger questions that is on everybody’s mind. Many places are reopening operations strictly for people who can show evidence that they’ve been fully vaccinated against Coronavirus. After all, that’s the safest option for businesses who want to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. So will you have to be vaccinated in order to get a tattoo now that the lockdowns are coming to an end?

Unfortunately, there’s no answer that applies to all situations. Tattoo shops don’t tend to get regulations about how to operate from the government, so it will generally come down to each individual shop to make their own decisions about how to handle the issue. What we can say is that in countries where the vaccine has become widely available, it’s most often required exclusively for entry into crowded events with lots of people where participants won’t be wearing masks. For masked, private appointments, most places continue to allow customers regardless of their vaccination status.

That being said, it’s impossible to predict how things will play out in the future. For tattoo shops who have very high demand, can afford to be picky, and want to operate as carefully as possible, it’s not completely unrealistic to expect that some places might require vaccinations. But as of now, it’s not looking like it’ll be a very common requirement.

Speaking of vaccines and tattoos, the jury is still out on whether getting tattooed shortly after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine can trigger an adverse immune response. Chances are good that it probably won’t, but some health experts are cautioning people to be careful and avoid getting any tattoos until all side effects from the vaccine have passed. On top of that, since both tattoos and vaccines can make you pretty sore, it’s probably a good idea not to get an arm tattoo right on the spot where you had your Coronavirus vaccine for a few days after you get your shot – as excited as you may be.

Concerns About Post-Pandemic Tattooing

Getting a tattoo always carries some risk of infection and a pretty high likelihood of pain and discomfort. But are there things that you need to be extra worried about when it comes to post-pandemic tattoos in particular? Is getting a tattoo after the pandemic going to be any riskier than it was to get them before?

Well, it’s only logical that you might feel a little nervous about tattoos after COVID. After all, tattooing is one of those industries, like massaging or facials, that involves a lot of close physical touch with a service provider who is, in all likelihood, a complete stranger to you. And this is something that we’ve all become quite weary of in the last year-plus of being warned again and again about the dangers of physical proximity and the importance of social distancing.

That being said, the tattoo industry – or at least the legitimate side of it – has always been incredibly cautious and careful about safety and sanitization. Tattoo artists are trained professionals who have a strong working knowledge of how to prevent the spread of pathogens and they sterilize their equipment and sanitize their workspaces between every client. After all, your tattoo artist doesn’t want you to get an infection, either.

Nonetheless, if you weren’t already being very strategic about your choices of tattoo studios before the Coronavirus pandemic, now is definitely the time to start being picky about where you get tattooed. Because if before your main risk of going to a bad tattoo studio was getting a bad tattoo or an infection, now you have to worry about getting Coronavirus, too.

So when you start planning your first post-Coronavirus tattoo, make sure you do your research about your artist and your studio. Don’t hesitate to ask what kind of precautions you can expect your tattoo shop to take against Coronavirus if they’re not already making that information available to customers online. And if, when you get to your appointment, you’re not seeing gloves and masks and the studio seems full of too many people, there’s no shame whatsoever in saying you don’t feel safe and taking your business elsewhere. Because in tattooing and elsewhere, your health and safety come first.

And to do your part, try to come in for your tattoo appointment well-prepared with a mask and hand sanitizer. Wash your hands before your appointment and don’t touch too many things you see around the shop, especially not without asking first. Come alone (you can FaceTime your best friend if you need moral support!) and – most importantly – cancel your appointment if you’re feeling unwell or have potentially come into contact with a Coronavirus patient.

What You Can Do Now

Okay, that may have been a lot of warnings, disclaimers, and safety talk. This is the age of Coronavirus, after all. But all of that out of the way, it is extremely exciting that tattoo shops are finally getting to really open up again, and if you’re planning on getting your first tattoo since the start of the pandemic, we don’t blame you if you’re so exhilarated you could burst.

So whether you’ve already made your tattoo appointment or you’re still eagerly awaiting the day that your local tattoo studio reopens, here are some things you can do to prepare and to use up some of that excited energy.

Find The Right Artist and Studio

For your own peace of mind and safety, doing careful research before choosing a tattoo shop and reading reviews online can help you be sure that your post-pandemic tattoo experience is going to go as smoothly and securely as possible. With the internet and Instagram, it’s never been easier to locate and book an appointment with the studio and artist you feel most comfortable with going to.

Figure Out What Tattoo You Want

Sometimes, planning your tattoo is as exciting as actually getting it in the first place. Brainstorming what tattoo meaning, design, placement, and style you want opens up a world of creativity and possibilities and lets you really imagine what your new tattoo is going to look like. If you’re looking for the absolute perfect design in order to get the tattoo of your dreams, Custom Tattoo Design works with professional artists to help design your ideal tattoo. Just send us your idea, get a quote, and work one-on-one with your artist until you get the perfect, unique design. We even have a money back guarantee so you know that you’ll be satisfied.

Look Up Policies

Before you head over to your tattoo appointment, it’s important to check exactly what will be required of you once you get there. Do you have to be vaccinated? If so, what kind of proof of vaccination do they require? Do you need to wear a mask? Are you allowed to bring somebody with you? Will the appointment take longer than it might have taken before the pandemic? Will you be allowed to come early and sit in a waiting room before the appointment, or do you have to go straight to the tattoo station? Have prices changed as a result of the pandemic? Whatever the case may be, familiarizing yourself with the tattoo shop’s new policies will play a big role in making you feel ready for tattoo day.

Ultimately, the re-opening of the tattooing industry is an occasion both to be celebrated and to be done very carefully and cautiously. As long as we ourselves and our tattoo artists and shops all prioritize everybody’s health and safety, we can get back to enjoying the joy of tattooing like we once used to.

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