"Dirty Needles and Drunk Artists": Grim Yelp Reviews of Tattoo Parlors 

"Dirty Needles and Drunk Artists": Grim Yelp Reviews of Tattoo Parlors 

Welcome to Grim Yelp Reviews, a regular feature where we share people’s worst experiences at the worst places. This week, you either got the Chinese symbol for “respect” or “biohazard,” and you will never, ever know.

Tattoos are the best kind of hobby: the kind in which you get to lie down and make someone else do all the work. (Amirite, ladie—no, let’s just let that one go.)

But tattooing also requires a level of trust and optimism: that your artist will be skillful, that they will understand and share your particular vision, and, crucially, that at least one of you will own a dictionary and think to double-check it before committing a word to your flesh forever.

And when tattooing gets grim, it gets very grim indeed: things are crooked, they are overly bloody, they are missing “O”s and “L”s, and sometimes, they are the name of a living person to whom you did not give birth, a person you’re convinced you will love forever in a romantic way. (You won’t. No—ssh—nope.)

Grim Yelp reviews of tattoos can be divided into three broad categories: Spelling, Bedside Manner, and What the Hell Happened? As almost always, to protect the names of the innocent and not-so-innocent alike, we’ve redacted the names of the businesses, as well as the identities of the Yelpers who wrote the reviews. We realize you can probably find out all of that information by employing five seconds of Google magic.


Typically, a tattoo artist draws your design, transfers it onto a stencil, and puts said stencil on your body. That’s everyone’s opportunity to check the design, the placement, the size,and, crucially, the words. Check the words.

Otherwise, this happens:


There’s only one review of this shop, and it makes the case that an artist’s best (or worst) advertisement is their own work:

There are roaches in this shop. The owner does not have his piercing licence and has misspelled tattoos. Would not recommend.



Bedside Manner

Obviously, lots of reviews of tattoo parlors complain that the artist was rude. But those are boring. More interesting, for our purposes, are the numerous reviews that sound wounded, the way you might after a breakup or a friendship gone sour. Lots of complaints where there’s clearly, ahem, some history between artist and client:


(The shop owner responded to this one calling the customer “abusive,” saying the shop will no longer see him, and that he waited a year to make this complaint. Also, if your tattoo artist was “falling asleep,” that’s a situation where most people would hit the pause button pretty quickly on the whole venture.)

Other times, the complaint centers around an artist whose demeanor was not backed up with, shall we say, a particularly strong skill set:


What the Hell Happened?

The image attached to this review is the most hideously infected tattoo your Grim Yelp Reviewer has ever seen, and she once knew a dude who tried to scrub his off with steel wool in a fit of very, very stupid buyer’s remorse. It is so bad we won’t share it, but:

13 days ago i got a tattoo on my wrist at this shop, The “artist” that did my tattoo made it crooked as hell. 13 days later, I’m still in so much pain and its still scabbed! it looks more like an open wound then a tattoo. This isn’t my first tattoo it shouldn’t take more then 13 days to heel.. not even that if I’m gonna pay for a tattoo i want it too actually look like a tattoo then a scar. And look like it was done professionally, looks worse then a basement tatt. Everyone that takes a look at my tattoo asks me if i was trying to scar myself. its pretty fucking ridiculous, the fact that something like this was done from a shop!

It’s difficult to parse how credible a lot of these Yelpers are, but I do like the idea that if you walk too close to this shop, a menacing drunk will veer out and tattoo your child:

Dirty needles and drunk tattoo artists! They do not id do not let your underage kid anywhere near that place!
My younger sister got a tatt from here and they did an ok job. She coulda gotten a way better one somewhere else.
My other friend got a cross and the dude F***ed up!!! Like a lil kid was coloring and went out of the line!!! It’s that bad! All that guy had to do was trace it but he couldn’t even get that right!

Google? Google? Google:

I went here to get a tattoo by Legion once. Should have backed out the first time he forgot and rescheduled my tattoo and also forgot to send me my design multiple times, but hey I wanted good work. We decided on 100 for my little tattoo and after the third reschedule and driving over an hour to get there, I am greeted with him telling me he was about to leave waiting on me.. Um, what? Then he has another guy tell me the price of my tattoo is now 260.. Again, what? So I had to leave, go to a bank and come back again to be ridiculously overcharged for a design he took off google (yes, I found the exact design) that took fifteen minutes to complete. Needless to say, I was pissed and even more so now that it is near illegible thanks to his rushing to leave.
Bad customer service, asshole attitudes, major lack of integrity, work is not worth the way you will be treated here. Take your money somewhere else. You will be glad you did.

And finally: ohhh, my God:


Pretty grim! Until next time, do your research, triple-check your stencil, and don’t let a sleeping drunk person put a needle on you. How hard is that?

Contact the author at [email protected].
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Image via Shutterstock, Grim Yelp badge by Jim Cooke

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