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How to Throw a Tattoo Party: Ideas, Photos, and Inspiration

I have lots of experience taking care of my tattoos—first to heal them and then to keep them looking good.

The Finger Mustache Tattoo—a Classic

The Finger Mustache Tattoo—a Classic

How to Throw a Tattoo Party

I love tattoos—both for myself and on other people. I try to get at least one per year as part of my “roadmap of life” plan. This year, instead of taking my usual trek down to ye ol’ tattoo parlor, I decided to hold a tattoo party and invite friends and family to join in on the inky celebration. It rocked!

Seriously, if you are an ink enthusiast with a tattoo artist on-site at your home, that is pretty darn close to nirvana. That being said, it was a lot more work and time than I thought it would be. Now I'd like to share what I’ve learned for anyone else who is thinking of hosting a tattoo party of their own. Follow the steps below, and your inky bash is sure to be a fun (and painful) success.

1. Find a Tattoo Artist

This is obvious, but it is not easy. I realize that not everyone is lucky enough to have their favorite tattoo artist live down the road from them. You will need to find someone who is willing to pack up their gear and set up shop in your home. The lure of a long line of paying clients may be enough, especially if they are new to the area and looking to build a client base.

As always, thoroughly check out your artist. Get references and actually call them and go see the work they have had done. Also, if the artist doesn’t have an autoclave, don’t go near them.

2. Make and Send Invitations

Now, start making your guest list. Invite tons of people. I posted my event on Facebook knowing that at least half of the confirmed guests would back out. So many people love the idea of getting a tattoo, but when push comes to shove, unless they are already inked, the idea of paying someone to put a needle into them seems crazy on second thought.

My friend's first tattoo was a tribute to his daughter. Don't go any bigger then this at a tattoo party.

My friend's first tattoo was a tribute to his daughter. Don't go any bigger then this at a tattoo party.

3. Have Guests Send Their Desired Designs

Make sure people know exactly what they want beforehand, and encourage them to keep it small. This is not the time to finish off that back piece or get the entire cast of Star Trek tattooed on your butt. Something no bigger than a tennis ball works. Then, if possible, get the designs to the artist beforehand so he or she can stencil them up and be good to go before people arrive.

4. Pay Your Artist a Deposit

Your artist may require a deposit before committing to a party. Time out of the shop means lost income, so a deposit ensures that you are serious and acts as a safety net if you have a lot of no-shows. Whether you decided to gather deposits from the guests or front the money yourself is up to you.

5. Set a Tentative Schedule

I know party and schedule don’t belong in the same sentence, but they have to when you have tons of people at your house wanting to get a tattoo. Don’t have everyone arrive at once and, if possible, give people an idea of when they will go under the needle. Make sure you don’t guarantee an exact time. Tattooing is an art and doesn’t always follow a clock.

Someone getting their first tattoo at my party.

Someone getting their first tattoo at my party.

6. Set Up Your Home Tattoo Parlor

Be sure you can dedicate an entire room with a door and lots of light and power outlets to tattooing. Some people will want privacy, while others will be happy with an audience, so be sure to have a few extra chairs. We had a TV and music available in our makeshift tattoo parlor which seemed to be appreciated as well.

7. Be Prepared

It may be a good idea to have some pain reliever, ice, and ointment on hand. Some juice and a barf bag or two might not be a bad idea either. We had at least one person turn a bit green and threaten to pass out during the first few minutes of their tattoo. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

8. Plan for Breaks

The art of tattooing is very physically demanding. Be prepared to give your artist as many breaks as they need and have food and drinks on-hand to keep their energy level up. You want them doing their best work and keeping a decent pace.

9. Make an Alcohol Plan

It’s a party, so people might imbibe. However, under no circumstances should someone who is drunk get a tattoo. Under no circumstances should you be tattooed by someone who has any alcohol in their system. This was not an issue for my gathering. If you feel like it might be for yours, consider making it an alcohol-free party.

I made a deal to get the awesomness that was created on my elbow and I got to do it in the comfort of my own home.

I made a deal to get the awesomness that was created on my elbow and I got to do it in the comfort of my own home.

10. Inquire About a Group Discount

Some artists are open to cutting you a deal for bringing so much work their way. Make this deal beforehand and be blunt so that there are no surprises.

This is the family tattoo—it represents Canadian and British heritage.

This is the family tattoo—it represents Canadian and British heritage.

11. Have Fun!

Being with someone as they get tattooed can be a great bonding experience. We had a family come in and all get the same tattoo—how's that for memorable? It can also leave you with some very funny stories—my husband and his friend almost talked each other into getting matching camel tattoos on their asses. Thankfully, they didn't.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


hiswife86 on February 24, 2015:

I really want to have a tattoo party for my 29 bday...I don't have any tattoos but my husband does

Catherine Taylor (author) from Canada on November 19, 2013:

Tattoolady, I really appreciate your comments. What you're describing sounds quite scary and is information worth sharing. I hope people take the time to read your comments and choose only professional tattoo artists attached to a shop with industry standard equipment and sterile practices to tattoo them at a tattoo party.

Tattoolady on November 15, 2013:

Hi, I came across this article by accident while trying to find the source of all the infected tattoos in my town. We get a lot of people coming into the shop to have their tattoo-party tattoos fixed. Sometimes we can't touch them because they are still too badly scarred or infected to go near with a needle. We are also ammending our release forms, to include 'have you been tattooed outside of a licensed studio in the past 12 months.' - because the risk of contracting a bloodborne illness is far higher when you are tattooed by a non professional. We are considering refusing to work on people who tick that box, simply because it puts us at more risk from hepatitis, and also at risk from legal action if the person can't determine where they picked up the infection. They will always sue the insured business and not the 'friend of a friend,' who picked up a tattoo kit off eBay. The overwhelming majority of people who are 'mobile tattooists,' only tattoo in people's homes because they can't get a job in a legitimate shop. Please bear that in mind when choosing the person who is marking you permanently, and who is in charge of hygiene and cross-contamination procedures in your home. Be safe x

Catherine Taylor (author) from Canada on February 11, 2013:

Hi MK, thanks for reading and commenting. It is a lot of fun, so much so that I am making it an annual event. Thanks for the vote up!

Aloe Kim on February 03, 2013:

This sounds like a really fun party ^_^ A lot of great advice and good points to consider. Voting up and awesome!

Anonnymous on December 05, 2012:

Thanks soo much I was really stumped!

Catherine Taylor (author) from Canada on December 02, 2012:

What a great idea! I would definitely put in polysporin, unscripted lotion, sunscreen, ibuprofin and some fun temporary tattoos. Have a great b-day!

Anonymous on December 02, 2012:

Hi im having a tattoo party for my birthday but wanted to do "goodie-bags" you have any ideas on what to put in them??

Catherine Taylor (author) from Canada on November 05, 2012:

Thanks manthy, they are a great time. Planning a yearly one. You should plan one for newbies only like yourself.

Mark from Alabama,USA on November 02, 2012:

I hear ya, a tat party sounds like a lot of fun to me, don't forget to send me an invite, I'm a virgin

Catherine Taylor (author) from Canada on May 04, 2012:

Tammy, thanks so much for the share, much appreciated.

Kelley, you're right it is really a lot of fun to be with someone as they get a tattoo. Something about seeing your friends trying to pretend it doesn't hurt...

kelleyward on May 04, 2012:

What an interesting idea for a party. I agree that alcohol should not be involved. I saw my college roommate get a tattoo and it was a great experience! Take care, Kelley

Tammy from North Carolina on May 04, 2012:

What a fun idea. I am the only one in my family that is not tattooed. Cool hub!

Catherine Taylor (author) from Canada on April 20, 2012:

Thanks Jill, it was great fun and I will definitely check out tattoo guy.

jill of alltrades from Philippines on April 20, 2012:

I'm not really a tattoo person but I have friends who have beautiful tattoos and I enjoyed reading your hub! Sounds fun!

There is also a great hubber here, Tattoo guy, who is really into tattoos! Maybe you should check him out.

Voted up and funny!

Catherine Taylor (author) from Canada on April 16, 2012:

It was fun, and I am so glad they didn't talk each other into it.

deannachase from Bowling Green Ohio on April 14, 2012:

Sounds fun and congrats on your husband NOT getting an ass tattoo