Screams in the House of Pain!: Tattoos and TQM

I am a self proclaimed tattoo connoisseur with over twenty hours of needlework under my belt. One thing I found out about myself is that I apparently am not like most people who stay with one artist; I like to get tattooed by different artists and in different studios. I don’t know all the artists in Chicago, but I have been tattooed in five shops (visited a total of eight shops). My experience more than qualifies me to talk about this topic, as well as provide a general overview of the Chicago shops. I am here to analyze my experience with tattoos and total quality management (TQM).

Our book claims, “the tangible component of many services is important,” which certainly applies to the tattooing industry (207). All eight shops I have been to had a “greeter,” whose job includes tasks such as welcoming guests and filling out paperwork. Upon visiting a shop for the first time, I have only dealt with lukewarm greeters (not grouchy but not overly friendly) which more or less takes away from my experience. For the tattoo aficionados, do you not agree with me that most of the greeters in Chicago are lukewarm? I suppose if a greeter told me to get out of the shop just because I am a minority, I would not want to return to the shop. That has never happened to me, but that would be poor quality on the hypothetical shop’s part. On the flip side, tattoo shops do have a reputation to maintain. They have the right to kick drunk people out coming in at 2 A.M. A reputable shop will not want to be known as the shop that tattoos drunks.

As the book states, “9 out of 10 of the determinants of service quality are related to the service process” (207). I consider this part to be the time when the artist starts to sanitize his/her equipment to the time he/she bandages me up. Most people do not want to contract a disease such as hepatitis from a tattoo shop. The tattoo artist should follow safety guidelines such as putting on clean gloves and opening sterilized needles in front of the client.

While the tattoo artist is inserting the needle into the client’s skin, the client should not have to worry if the artist is incompetent. The artist should be able to make immaculate lines and properly complete their shading techniques. Most clients do not want a poorly finished tattoo that might require expensive removal.

Lastly, the book states “service quality is judged on the basis of whether it meets expectations” (207). As my photo shows, tattoo work is a creative form of art. However, not everything can be tattooed. On one of my visits to Insight Studios, I wanted to get a tattoo of this picture of a fire I found on the Internet. My artist honestly told me that that picture was more of a computer graphic design and that he would and could not tattoo it.

I’m interested if anybody has any experience with tattoo shops (with tattoos or even piercings). What aspects of quality do you think tattoo shops should work on? Web. 5 October 2012. <>.

Heizer, Jay H., and Barry Render. “Managing Quality.” Principles of Operations Management. 8th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, 2011. 207. Print.

Loaded Radio. Web. 5 October 2012. <×115.jpg>.