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The Evolution of Tattoo Shops

Published December 5, 2023
By Celebrity Ink

Tattoos have existed for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Egyptians.

While it might seem unbelievable not to get a tattoo in a clean studio with sterilised equipment, it used to be the norm for people to get inked with dirty needles and soot. So, where did people used to go to get tattooed hundreds and even thousands of years ago?

This article dives deep into the history and evolution of tattoo shops, how they came to be what they are today, and what you can expect from a modern tattoo studio.

The History of Tattoo Parlours

The oldest discovery of tattooed human skin was in 1991 on the frozen body of Ötzi the Iceman, dated between 3370-3100BCE. Tattooed mummies have also been discovered around the world, in locations such as Alaska, Siberia, China, Egypt and more, dating back 3,000 years.

But where did these ancient individuals go to get tattooed? It has been said that early tattoos took place in alleyways using needles dipped in charcoal soot or indigo powder with no sterilisation.

The first tattoo parlour in the world can be found in Jerusalem. Razzouk Tattoo has been around since 1300 and is currently owned by Wassim Razzouk, a 27th-generation tattoo artist.

For over 700 years, the Razzouk family has been tattooing pilgrims visiting the Holy Land to commemorate their journey. Razzouk Tattoo specialises in traditional Christian tattoos.

In the Western world, tattoos took a little longer to become popular. However, it was the sailors in the war who really introduced tattoos as they’d collected ink from countries around the world.

Established in 1884 in Copenhagen, Tattoo Ole is one of the first tattoo shops in Europe. Founded over 130 years ago, Tattoo Ole was once a hotspot for drunken sailors to get inked. The tattoo studio has been passed down through generations and is currently owned by Majbritt Peterson, the great-granddaughter of Ole Hansen, the original owner. While tattoo enthusiasts can still get the traditional tattoos offered at Tattoo Ole, Majbritt has expanded the studio to offer a range of different tattoo styles.

The first known permanent tattoo shop in the United States was set up by Martin Hildebrandt in 1846. There, he began tattooing sailors and military service members from both sides of the Civil War.

After WWII, more tattoo shops began to pop up; however, while they had sterilisation equipment, they were rarely used. Due to this, there were outbreaks of hepatitis and reports of blood poisoning and other diseases. As a result, tattooing, especially in the United States, became illegal, driving many tattoo shops underground. People headed to back alleyways and secret shops to get inked during this time.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that tattoos became a popular part of mainstream Western society, with both men and women of all economic classes getting tattoos. With the rise in the popularity of tattoos, tattoo parlours began popping up around the world, adding to the evolution of tattoo shops.

Over the years, sterilisation and a clean tattooing environment have become even more important due to the number of people getting tattoos. No longer will you get inked in an alleyway or the back of someone’s van. The best place to get a clean and gorgeous piece of art is in a proper tattoo parlour.

The Modern Tattoo Shop Experience

Gone are the days when the tattoo needle is dipped in soot and manually pushed into your skin without being sterilised. So, what can you expect when you go to a modern tattoo shop?

Once you arrive for your tattoo appointment, you will need to fill out some paperwork, and once that’s completed, you’ll head to the chair. Depending on the tattoo studio, you’ll either be sitting in a chair in the public area or in a private room.

Once you’re comfortably in the seat (or lying down, depending on the location of your tattoo), your tattoo artist will clean the area with rubbing alcohol. They will then use a new disposable razor to shave the area and clean the area once again.

The next step is to add the stencil to your skin, and when you’re happy with the placement, your tattoo artist will start preparing their tattoo machine.

Your tattoo artist will place their ink in ink caps, and the tattoo needles and tubes will be removed from their sterile pouches and placed into the machine. The artist will also pour distilled water into a cup to clean the needles during the tattoo process. It’s also common to see your tattoo artist set up a tub of Vaseline, too. 

After the ointment has been applied to your skin, the tattoo process begins! Once the tattoo is finished, your tattoo artist will moisturise it and wrap it in cling film for you to wear for at least an hour or two afterwards.

Tattoo studio history has come a long way in terms of sterilisation and cleanliness. Due to the importance placed on sterilising equipment and the work area, as well as cleaning the tattoo area, the risk of infectious diseases associated with getting a tattoo is little to none.

Find Bright, Clean Studios with Celebrity Ink

From needles dipped in soot to sterilised needles dipped in regulated tattoo ink, the evolution of tattoo shops around the world has been incredible.

No matter where you are in the world, you’re guaranteed to see people of all ages and races sporting tattoos. Due to the popularity of tattoos, you can find plenty of bright, clean studios no matter where you are.

Whether you’re looking to get your first or seventh tattoo, Celebrity Ink has a range of bright, clean studios scattered across the world, with most of our Australian studios found in the safety of shopping centres. 

For a clean and reliable tattoo experience, book your next tattoo at your nearest Celebrity Ink studio. We look forward to bringing your vision to life!

Get your next tattoo at Celebrity Ink

The team at Celebrity Ink can provide you with not only a tattoo that tells your story but also detailed aftercare information that goes beyond the question of how long does a tattoo take to heal.

Our team sets standards in tattoo design while working alongside you to bring your vision to life. Whether you’re seeking traditional tattoos, realistic designs, mandalas, or any other, we have artists specialising in a range of tattoo styles that can provide you with the tattoo you have envisioned.

Book a consultation to discuss your tattoo design, get in contact with the crew at Celebrity Ink, and we will lock you in for your next ink session.
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