1. Smells Bad – Tattoo shops should smell like cleaning products and sterile air, if you walked into tattoo shop and have been greeted by a big puff of smoke, or other foul odor you may be in the wrong place. The owners of the tattoo shop and the artist not caring about how the shop smells is a good indicator that the level of sterilization may be low.
2. Animals – At some parlors the owner will have a snake cage set up or a dog running around. This is a violation of most states health codes and either way is a disgusting situation always avoid any tattoo shop where animals are present. Beside the smell the presence of animals compromises any sterile zone the artist may have set up.
3. Dirty Employees – Employees of tattoo shops should be clean wearing not only sterile gloves and using sterile equipment. But there personal hygiene should also be high. If the tattoo artist you have chosen is dirty, has ink or other stains on there clothes, you may want to leave. If the artist is not keeping his own person clean his working area is probably in similar disarray.
4. Foul Bathroom – Check out the bathroom in the tattoo shop you plan to go to in advance. Does it look and smell clean? The look of the bathroom will give you an idea of the level of cleanliness in the business. If the employees take a nonchalant attitude to the bathrooms cleanliness they may also be nonchalant in the cleaning of there personal stations.
5. "Sorry We Are Out Of … Ink" – Nothing says you are in the wrong shop like "sorry we are out of ink". Maybe its black ink or red or green, but the question is the same how can a tattoo shop run out of anything, much less tattoo ink. It happens all the time, it is usually the sign of a tattoo artist who does not want to do the work. But even if the shop is really out of a particular color of tattoo ink it is still a good sign you are in the wrong shop.