If you're planning on getting a tattoo you should make sure the tattoo parlor you choose is reputable. There aren't many laws governing the tattoo industry so it's up to the consumer to make sure they are going to a business that abides by laws regarding sanitary measures.
The process to start a tattoo parlor isn't rigorous. Tattoo artists must complete a course on contagious disease transmission and then are awarded a license. Their businesses aren't subject to inspection afterwards.
Be careful. Don't just pick the first place you see. Take the time to learn about the tattoo artist before letting them permanently mark your body. Practically anyone can get a tattoo parlor license and set up shop.
Take a look around when you enter a tattoo parlor. Check out the spray bottles and brushes on the shelves. They should be in sealed packaging. The staff should be conscientious about hygiene and maintain a professional atmosphere.
Be sure to ask plenty of questions about the sterilization process they use. Don't be shy about it. The autoclave sterilization method is recommended. If they don't use it, walk away.
If you take the time to find out about their sterilization methods you can get a feel for how reputable the tattoo parlor is and how serious they are about preventing the spread of disease. Quality tattoo parlors use EPA approved disinfectants to wash their hands and clean the area to be tattooed.
If the parlor doesn't use safe practices or is hesitant to answer questions, then take your business elsewhere. A safe tattoo artist won't mind answering your questions and showing you around. They will have nothing to hide.
Definitely ask to see some previously drawn designs and a few customer references. This will give you some indication of their ability and whether past customers were satisfied with the services they received.