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In the past few decades, tattoos have gone from taboo to mainstream. People from all walks of life have caught the ink addiction and are rushing to tattoo artists for their fix. A large percentage of tattoos are impulse buys. Maybe you’re on vacay and you happen to pass by a tattoo studio, or perhaps after a long night of drinking and partying you come across a shop that pulls all-nighters. Hey, ish happens. However, we implore you to think before you ink. A tattoo is after all permanent. Here are some vital points to consider before getting tattooed.

Don’t Get Tattooed by a “Scratcher”!

I’m sure many of you have gotten offers to get tattooed at bargain prices by your friend’s girlfriend’s cousin, Pancho, who just ordered a tattoo machine online and is looking to try it out on poor, unsuspecting souls. All you have to do is swing by Pancho’s crib on Friday night while abuela is playing cards with la vecina next door. Oh, and bring cash and a six-pack of Coronas. Pancho is what folks in the tattoo community call a “scratcher.” And, trust us, you don’t want to be tattooed by a scratcher. As Katt Williams would say, “That don’t even sound attractive!”

Radamez “Ray” Rivera — a tattoo artist of seven years currently inking out of Industrial Art Tattoo in Harrison, NJ — defines scratchers as: “Someone with no regard to quality or hygiene, someone who does not tattoo for passion, but rather for money and a chance at fame.”

Scratchers much like our friend, Pancho, have not gone through an apprenticeship and have no idea what they are doing. This may lead to a jacked up tat and you may run the risk of possibly catching something from cross-contamination. This doesn’t mean you can only get tattooed at official shops because, “Scratchers are not only tattooing in their homes,” Ramirez says. “They can also be found at shops, but are not considered ‘scratchers’ because they are working at established shops.”

However, there are artists who build private studios out of their homes, but they go about it the right way. They go through the proper training, get licensed and have their work area inspected and approved by the right personnel. You just have to be able to tell the difference — and sometimes it can be unclear to the naked eye if the person is legit or not.

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About The Author

Emmanuel Ureña

Born to Dominican parents in NYC and raised in Passaic, NJ, in nearly a decade as an entertainment writer, Emmanuel Ureña has written for numerous publications, including VIBE, Latina.com, BET.com, LLERO, Urban Ink, Inked, and many others. When he’s not typing away on his MacBook, Ureña is reading fictional novels and comic books while enjoying ice-cold Blue Moon beers. You might also find him at a local tattoo shop getting some fresh ink!

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