Booking Ahead of Time, or Just Showing Up: The Pros & Cons of Tattoo Appointments

Planning a design for a tattoo is always an exciting time, whether it is your first ever piece of ink or a fresh addition to your ever growing collection.

Having a tattoo is a great form of expressing yourself through personal artwork on your body, whether the design is something that you love, something specifically significant to you, or it is simply something fun you just wanted to try out.

Your skin begins as a blank canvas, an empty space prepared for an unlimited potential for visual art: it is up to you to decide what you would like to fill it with!

When you are preparing for your next tattoo, there are several options that will need to be considered. It is always so important to research a tattoo artist and the shop that they work for before making any permanent decisions, putting down deposits and such.

Most artists have their own individual styles, and you will need to work out which style will work best for your chosen design. 

Next, you will need to decide between two options, depending on the tattoo parlor that you have chosen: should you book an appointment, or simply show up on the day?

Depending on who you ask, different opinions on this will be shared. Some prefer to show up for walk-in appointments, walking away with their fresh ink the same day. Others prefer to book their appointments ahead of time.

There are generally no right or wrong answers in this department, but it is best to gather all the facts before making a decision for yourself, especially if you are completely new to the tattoo scene.

So, which is better? Walking in on the day, or booking an appointment? 

Don’t stress: you are not alone. We are here to help you through this decision, providing you with a list of pros and cons for both decisions. Continue reading this article and take your time to sift through each point so that you will be able to come up with your own preference. 

Let’s jump straight into it!

The Pros & Cons of Tattoo Appointments

The Pros of Booking a Tattoo Appointment

You Will Have Time To Really Think About Your Design

When it comes to choosing and designing your own tattoo, this is a process you definitely do not want to rush through.

By booking an appointment with your chosen tattoo artist, you will be given the opportunity to not only choose the date of your session, but you will also be able to extensively discuss your design with your chosen artist over the course of a couple of weeks, or even months.

By taking the time to share your ideas and communicate with a tattoo artist, they may give you ideas to tweak and change your design for the better, improving it in ways that you would never have considered on your own: after all, it is their job to know what a good tattoo looks like! 

The important thing to remember about a tattoo is that it is permanent: once it is there, there is no quick and easy way of completely removing it.

Some will argue that you should definitely choose to book a tattoo appointment ahead of time, and you should take advantage of the fact that you can discuss your design with the tattoo artist in thorough detail. As we said, this process should not be rushed.

You Get To Choose And Research Your Tattoo Artist

As we previously mentioned in the last section, you will need to work closely with your chosen tattoo artist to ensure that you receive the best results possible. However, this process starts when you truly take the time out to research the best tattoo artist for you.

You will want to find someone who matches the style that you have envisioned for your design, but more than that, you will need to find a true professional who knows what they are doing.

It may feel tempting to choose the cheapest artist you find with the nearest booking dates possible, but please do not do this. 

When searching for a suitable tattoo artist, there are three key qualities that they should possess to the highest standard possible: specialty, reputation, and hygiene.

Speciality and reputation are important when it comes to you receiving the most visually attractive design possible, whereas lack of hygiene could quite possibly result in you leaving the tattoo parlor with not just a poorly done tattoo, but also a nasty infection.

Make sure that you check safety ratings and previous reviews beforehand to get a feel of a shop’s environment.

The Pros of Attending a ‘Walk In’ Tattoo Appointment

You Will Receive Instant Results

Of course, this is the real reason that walk-in tattoo appointments are so attractive: there is nothing more exciting than planning a design, walking into a shop, and walking away with a fresh piece of ink on the same day.

You will need to check with the tattoo parlor that they do walk-in appointments, however, as some places are private, and will require a previously booked appointment. Do your research beforehand to ensure that they welcome walk-ins. If they do, brilliant – you are almost ready for your new ink!

Before you even think about getting to the tattoo shop, you will need to be completely certain about the design that you want.

Consider creating a small portfolio with small sketches and cut-out images that indicate what design you are interested in, even if it is just a single sheet of paper: the more ideas you generate, the better.

This will make it easier for the tattoo artist to look through each image and quickly whip up a professional looking design, one that you will want on your body for life. The more sample images you provide, the quicker this process will be.

If you are a natural artist, try sketching a rough idea of your design out in as much detail as possible!

There May Be Special Deals For Walk In Customers (E.G. Flash Sales)

There are many tattoo shops that will present seasonal offers, providing flash sales of their own designs.

A popular time that artists tend to announce these flash sales is during Halloween: many artists will present several, spooky designs a week or two before the big day, and if you are fast enough, you will then be able to choose and claim one for yourself. Several tattoo artists also generate flash sales for Black Friday. 

Although some places require a booking to claim their designs, many places will have a walk-in offer, where the designs are offered at a ‘first come, first served’ basis. This means that you will need to be fast on the mark, looking out for these sales when they are first being announced.

The best way to do this is by following certain companies through their social media, checking their pages for those special announcements. The best part of these sales is that, obviously, they are a lot cheaper than your usual tattoo, meaning that you will save money in the long run.

The only issue is that you will not be able to choose your own design, but don’t worry about that: you may find a design that you absolutely love by checking out these deals, ones that you would never have considered before.

This is a great opportunity for those who like to add a little surprise to their everyday life.

The Cons of Booking a Tattoo Appointment

You May Have To Wait A While For Your Appointment

This is the obvious downside to booking a tattoo appointment ahead of time. If you are booking in with a particularly popular artist that is known to provide high quality compositions, the odds are that you may have to wait a while before you can get your ink done.

More popular artists will have waiting times of up to several months, and even less experienced artists may require you to wait a couple of weeks until you can finally get your piece done. 

Waiting an awfully long time for an appointment may put a dampener on your initial excitement: after all, no one likes waiting around.

However, as we said before, you should see this as a great opportunity to work with your tattoo artist, taking this time to thoroughly scan your design and add details that will make it even better when the time finally comes to get it done.

Try to see it as a good thing, and hopefully the time will pass much sooner than you would initially think. Plus, all that time spent waiting will make the big day so much more exciting! 

Your Appointment Could Get Cancelled And Rescheduled

Tattoo artists, just like us, are only human.

It can be extremely disheartening to wait several months for the day of your tattoo session, only to find out a day or two before the big day that your chosen artist has come down with an illness, or is experiencing a family issue, meaning that the appointment will need to be cancelled.

Unfortunately, these situations are often unavoidable, and no one is to blame when they occur. 

It can be disappointing, and hard to accept, but you will need to focus on the good points: this does not mean that your tattoo will never be completed. The tattoo artist in question will either refund your deposit, or they will reschedule your session for a later date.

It is highly unlikely that you will have to wait months until the rescheduled appointment: the odds are that they will try to fit you in as soon as possible, as they will not want to keep their customers waiting.

Yes, it can be annoying having to wait even longer, but just try to think positively, and the day will arrive before you know it.

The Cons of Attending a ‘Walk In’ Tattoo Appointment

You May Get Turned Away If The Studio Is Too Busy

This is always a risk, even if the tattoo shop does accept walk-in appointments. These scenarios are more likely at certain times, such as over the weekend when most people are not in work or school, and especially more likely if the shop is holding a flash sale.

The issue with the whole ‘first come, first served’ ideology is that you will need to either be able to move quickly, or be prepared to be turned down.

It can be extremely disappointing when this happens, but it is something that you will need to consider if you are choosing to turn up without a booked appointment.

Your best option is to call up the tattoo parlor ahead of time, earlier on in the day, to check how busy they currently are. If they have received cancellations or have not got many appointments booked in for that day, you will be in luck!

They may even encourage you to turn up, relying on customers like you to keep them going throughout the day. 

The Tattoo Artist Won’t Have Much Time To Review The Design

Another factor to consider while going for a walk-in appointment is the scale of your design, and whether it will be able to be completed within a realistic time frame.

Larger designs are a huge no-no when it comes to walk-in sessions: due to larger tattoos sometimes requiring numerous sessions, the artwork available will be confined to basic designs. Aside from the time needed to complete a bigger tattoo, it also takes time to perfect the overall design.

These pieces will typically need a brief consultation during which you will discuss with the artist about your tattoo and map out the design, and this will take up time during your session also. 

If you want a larger tattoo, you will be better off booking an appointment. If you want a smaller tattoo, however, there should not be an issue.

Your chosen tattoo artist will be able to give you an estimate of what is appropriate for a walk-in tattoo, so if you are still unsure, just ask them about it. They will let you know what designs they are capable of completing within a specific time frame.

Tattoo Appointments

Final Thoughts

Overall, it is your decision whether you would like to book an appointment ahead of time, or whether you would like your tattoo done in a shorter amount of time.

If you want a larger tattoo, such as a sleeve, you will definitely want to book a session with your chosen artist, but smaller designs are pretty much suitable for whichever option you decide to opt for. 

No matter which appointment you decide to go for, the most important thing you will need to do is research the tattoo shop and artists beforehand! Do not turn up without any prior knowledge, or you are just simply asking for trouble.

With these suggestions in hand, you’re ready to visit your local tattoo parlour and get your first tattoo, whether you are walking in or you have booked a session! We hope you find a design you absolutely adore, and that you have a fantastic time getting your tattoo done.

Good luck, and have fun!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take To Get A Sleeve Tattoo?

An arm sleeve will typically take around 10–15 hours to fully complete, although some could take up to 80 hours. A sleeve will require several sessions to complete, and these can take weeks, months, or possibly years to completely finish up.

The amount of time required will be determined by the complexity of the artwork, plus the length of time it takes your skin to recover between appointments.

What Does It Mean To Have Consultation With A Tattoo Artist?

A consultation appointment is when you meet with a tattoo artist to discuss the design of your future tattoo. This is often allocated for customized tattoos.

You’ll discuss the design specifics, including the placement, colors, price, and other important details before deciding on a date for the tattoo session.

What To Email A Tattoo Artist When Booking An Appointment?

When emailing a tattoo artist to schedule an appointment, you should include a brief description of your idea along with any photographic references you may have, the area of your body that you would like inked, and your exact budget.

Basically, you should include every detail that you feel the artist should know prior to your appointment.

What Should I Know Before Getting My First Tattoo?

Eat a healthy dinner the night before, and a proper breakfast the morning of the appointment. It is not suggested to get a tattoo with an empty stomach: you will not only run the risk of becoming severely dizzy and nauseous, but you also run the risk of fainting.

It is also important to respect your body’s boundaries when getting your first tattoo. If you are particularly sensitive, do not get your first tattoo on your ribs, backs of knees, elbows, or anywhere with thin layers of skin.

Max Peters