Lots of questions, cheerfully answered

Click the question to see what we usually say. Save the really interesting questions for when you come in. If you’re looking for aftercare FAQs or directions, there’s a whole ‘nother page about that.

I’ve never had a tattoo before, where do I begin?

Welcome! It’s very easy to get started. The first thing we recommend is picking a tattooer you’d like to work with, based on their portfolio. What you’re looking for is an overall body of work that you love, and not exact tattoos (we’re going to draw yours up from scratch). If you just can’t choose, maybe your own schedule will decide for you – we can look at the calendar together and see which tattooers work on your days off.

From there we need to speak to you in the shop, in person, so that you can put down a $75 deposit toward the cost of your tattoo. We don’t charge for consult time or art, but we don’t start drawing until there is a deposit in the books.

If you don’t have a clear idea of what you’d like to get tattooed, start putting together a file (digital or real) of images that you like and inspire you. We’ve even had people show us photos of tattoos that are NOT what they want – everything is helpful. Too much data is better than too little.

Can you tell me how much my tattoo will cost?

We can’t tell you how much it will be before we draw it, but we do work well with being told both a budget and an idea. If you tell us you have about $500 to spend, we’ll know we have about three hours to tattoo and design your art accordingly. If your budget and your idea are wildly incompatible, we will discuss the options with you in person.

But how much does like, a sleeve cost?

We don’t know. We’ve seen a full sleeve take as few as 18 hours and as many as 50 hours. That’s a price window of about $2,700 – $7,500 before tax. It all depends on the art. Some people like to save up the entire amount in advance, and while we appreciate the desire to do that, it is just not possible for us to give an accurate guess. We can tell you, however, if the tattoo will take less time (for traditional or highly illustrative pieces) or more (for photorealism or complex imagery).

Do I pay for my tattoo up front?

No. You pay only for the time we spent tattooing you after each session. If you are working with a set budget for the day, make sure your tattooer knows before they get started.

Do you take credit cards?

Yes. We accept cash, credit and debit cards. We do not accept personal checks.

Do you have gift certificates?

Yes! And nice red envelopes, perfect for gift giving.

How much should I tip my tattooer?

The industry standard is 15-20%, or about $25 per hour of time your tattooer has spent with you. That being said, they are grateful for any gesture so don’t feel obligated to a particular amount.

Do you do piercing?


I can’t find your email in the website, where is it?

We do not communicate via email unless we have already scheduled an appointment, and appointments are scheduled in person only. We do this because it is very difficult to provide accurate information via email, and is very time consuming. We also do not check our email on a set schedule, so stopping by in person or calling the shop will always result in a faster, more complete answer.

What if I don’t live in town and want to make an appointment?

If you can’t make it into the shop in person, please call us and we’ll explain the options.

What’s your policy on touch-up work?

Sometimes a tattoo heals in such a way that a little color is lost, and in those instances your tattooer is happy to offer complimentary touch-ups on the work they did for you. We ask that you wait a full month before determining if a tattoo needs touching up.

Please do not wait longer than about 6 months. If too much time has passed (1+ years) we reserve the right to charge you for the time we spend. This is because we will likely need to do a little extra work to ensure the new ink matches with the aged ink.

Why don’t you allow children in the shop?

We strongly believe that tattoo shops, like bars or strip clubs, are not the place for minors. The reasons are as follows:

• Children are like drunks and we don’t expect them to behave well. We expect them to touch things, be rough, and scream and cry. And that’s ok! They are kids, that’s their job. It would be freaky if they were perfect all the time.

• You will be super distracted with your kids. This is a bigger issue than the children themselves. You might think you’re devoting all your attention, but some percentage of you is not with us. Better to just wait until you can focus on talking about your tattoo.

• Children cannot consent to the risks of a tattoo shop. This is kind of a big deal to us. As an adult, you are making a conscious decision to be around adult imagery, to hear adult conversations, and to be exposed to any other adult risks.

• Similarly, everyone who works at Spidermonkey has made a decision to be in an adult industry. We want to make dick jokes. We don’t want to feel guilty for using swear words. And we use them. A lot. If you assure us your kid is used to hearing them, that just makes us feel bad for the kid, too.

If we have time, we are happy to step outside and talk to you with your children present. Just give us a wave, or open the door and ask if someone has a moment to step out. We deeply appreciate your understanding on this.

Which tattooer would be best for my tattoo?

Everyone who works at Spidermonkey has tattooed for at least 10 years, most of them much longer. On a technical level, they are all at the top of their field. Creatively and artistically, however, they each have totally different styles and approaches and ultimately you are the one that makes the judgement on which style is right for you.

We would love to guide you in looking through the portfolios but this is best done in person. Come on in!

Why does everyone act so weird about white ink tattoos?

We dislike white ink tattoos (and to clarify: we are referring to when the entire tattoo is done in white, not using white in a larger tattoo design) because white ink rarely stays pure white, and because it has the worst longevity of any ink color. As a white tattoo ages, it fades unevenly and soon appears spotty, badly done and older than it really is. Your tattooer wants the best looking tattoos walking around in the world, and few things make them as anxious as a soon-to-be-cruddy-looking white tattoo.

That being said, please talk to us about the alternatives to white ink tattoos. If you want it to be very pale and discrete, we can come up with a design that works but also meets our standards.

White ink tattoos are among the few that we do not guarantee. This means if you want to get it touched up in the future, we will charge you again.

Do you tattoo faces or hands?

Sometimes. We do “ring” tattoos, but we prefer to talk about them in person (it’s easier to show than tell what works as a ring tattoo). We tattoo highly visible areas (face, neck, hands) only if you are already heavily tattooed, or if you can give us a compelling reason against our better judgement.

A lot of people interpret this reluctance as making moral decisions for you, and this is incorrect. We are making a moral decision for ourselves. Tattooers are human beings who have to feel good about their life choices. We are not robots. We have to sleep at night knowing we made good artistic decisions, but also just good decisions in general – you have the right to ask us to do something, we have the right to say no thank you.

We live in a liberal city, in a liberal state on a liberal coast of a liberal nation. When you travel outside that bubble, people will treat you different.

The industry calls them “job stoppers” for a reason – you may be totally punk rock right now, but take it from people who have encountered this exact scenario: there might be a time in your life when everything hinges on one moment, on one job – be it your dream job, or a shit job that will keep you from being homeless – and there’s a solid chance someone will look at your neck tattoo and say “I’m sorry, we don’t have a position for you.”

What about finger tattoos?

Somehow, finger tattoos have snuck into our culture as being a throw-away impulse tattoo, which is sort of baffling. It is very common for someone to have a hard time committing to a tattoo on their shoulder, but they’ll get a mustache on their finger on a whim. Strangeness of culture aside, finger tattoos just age poorly, and that’s really why we don’t like them. Every Pinterest photo you show us is of a fresh tattoo, not a healed one.

Here, for example, is a before and after (not done at our shop, but nevertheless a good example): faded_finger_tattooAs a result, finger tattoos are the other ones we do not guarantee, and we will charge to touch up.

Can’t I just get the tattoo gone over again after it fades?

Yes and no. If you’re talking about finger tattoos, we start to worry about scar tissue and other problems. You can try again, maybe once. After that, we feel like the risks of negative effects are too great. This is why we warn of poor longevity in the first place.

If you’re talking about tattoos elsewhere on your body that are 10+ years old, a refresh might be right for you. It will cost as much as putting a brand new tattoo on (it is a brand new tattoo, after all), but we can absolutely crisp up the blacks and brighten the colors.

Do you do cover-ups?

Regularly. You must stop by in person to ask questions about cover-ups. We absolutely must see the work we are covering. There are many options that work well for cover-ups depending on the age and style of the old tattoo.

Sometimes we recommend a short course of lasering to prep. Lasering is expensive if you’re trying to completely erase an old tattoo, but not so much if you’re just lightening it for a better cover-up. That’s the kind of thing we might talk to you about.

Would you continue other artist’s work I already have?

Probably. We’ll need to ask some questions in person, such as why you don’t want original tattooer to continue working on you. We understand that sometimes it’s not possible to get back to your original artist, but it’s also a little more complicated than just picking up where they left off.

Often we need to go back over the parts you already have, both to match them in age, but also to try and blend the current artist’s style with the old. Like a cover-up, we can’t commit to anything without seeing you in person first.

Is it rude to get tattooed by more than one person in your shop?

Only if you bring them better treats than you give the rest of us.

Which spot hurts more?

All of them. Tattoos hurt. Some areas do hurt more than others, but they all hurt. Don’t make decisions based on pain, make them based on where you want to have a tattoo for the rest of your life. (Those online charts that show the worst areas are not accurate – every body is different, every experience is different.)

I’m not 18 yet, if my parent is with me can I get a tattoo?

No, because the federal legal age to get a tattoo is 18. This means it is illegal for us to tattoo a minor, with or without parental consent.

If you hear of someone willing to tattoo a minor, it is important that you consider why they would be willing to break the law to make money, and what other compromises they make in their craft. If they are working out of a shop, the whole shop could be at risk for their decision. If they are working out of a home or “private studio,” they are probably not licensed and definitely not inspected by the state of Washington, which gives us the heebejeebees.

Can my family/posse come with me when I get tattooed?

You may have one person back with you at a time, but it doesn’t have to be the same person the whole time. Be advised that our lobby is very small, and large groups will likely not be comfortable standing and waiting for you.

Can I bring a drink or food with me?

Yes, though we ask that your food not be stinky or messy. It is a great idea to eat a meal before you come in for your tattoo, because nothing is fun when you’re hungry.

We also encourage you to bring candy bars, energy bars or other easy to eat food, and whatever beverage you like. We have a water cooler that has chilled and hot water, and we are happy to refill your water bottle.

What was the weirdest thing you ever tattooed?

Your mom. Obviously.

Can I vape while getting a tattoo?

We’d rather you didn’t, and mostly because we are conscious of odors in the shop. We are happy to take breaks so you can go outside and vape (or smoke), just let us know.

Do you offer discounts for military?

We don’t discount for anyone, and another way of saying that is: everyone who comes to us gets excellent, safe tattoos, at a price that respects the tattooer’s expertise.

Can I use a numbing cream?

Ask your tattooer, but in general the answer is no.

Some numbing creams are actually very dangerous and there are deaths each year associated with them (this is true, look it up). Others just don’t work very well, or work OK for 10 minutes and then suddenly stop working. Others still contain ingredients like epinephrine (which can give you panic attacks) or ingredients that blanch the skin tone or change the texture. Blah blah blah: they are unpredictable, and we don’t like that.

Does Skrappy have a girlfriend?

Either way, please send your selfies. His Instagram account is @ninjatat

Can I be an apprentice tattooer?

Not here.

Spidermonkey is a small space and we’ve got six full-time tattooers and a full-time desk person. We literally do not have the space to add an extra human into the mix.

If you’d like to come in and talk about how to become a tattooer, we are happy to chat. Be forewarned: we’re going to talk to you about art school.