What are your hours of operation?
We are open from Monday to Saturday, from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Sundays we are closed and only tattoo by appointment.
Our address is 1111 North Gilbert Road, Suite 108, Gilbert, Arizona 85234. We are just a mile and a half away from downtown Gilbert on the east side of Gilbert Road in between Baseline and Guadalupe. Our tattoo shop is easily accessible from any of the surrounding East Valley cities including Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, and Queen Creek. For a map to our shop, visit our contact page or search Dark Horse Tattoo Company on google or google maps.
Yes, unfortunately. Every tattoo hurts at least a little bit and everyone responds differently to the varying degree of pain that they feel. Some people sit like bosses no matter where on the body or how long they get tattooed, and some people agonizingly wince their way through every single tattoo that they get. Either way, we try not to judge. The most important thing to us is that you stay as still as possible so that we produce our best work. If you are wondering if the area you are thinking about getting tattooed is a particularly painful one, consider how many nerves might be in that part of the body. Chances are if you are ticklish there or if it’s close to bone or vital organs, it’s going to hurt. Hence, the least painful areas on the body are on the arms and some parts of the legs. The most painful areas, or at least the ones that are commonly tattooed, are the sternum, ribs, stomach, and feet.
Can I take pain medication or drink alcohol before my appointment to reduce the pain?
We strongly recommend against using any drugs or alcohol in an attempt to nullify the pain that is felt during a tattoo session. A lot of artists say that drinking alcohol thins the blood out and makes it harder to do a proper tattoo, and while that may be true to some degree, the larger concern is that you will not be able to stay still for the tattoo and will act obnoxiously and take unreasonably frequent bathroom breaks. Please don’t drink before your session. I know we’re all grown up and it feels good to party but we take tattooing very seriously at Dark Horse and won’t tattoo you if you are clearly intoxicated. The same stuff goes for pain medication, although to a lesser degree with the obnoxiousness. I’ve asked clients who have taken prescription pain pills before sessions whether or not they worked, and the general consensus is that they make almost no difference. Not only that, but if the pain medication that you are taking is a blood thinner, like ibuprofen or another NSAID, it can interfere with the tattoo process and make it difficult for us to do our best work.
Is there anything else I can do to reduce the pain?
There are some products available that can make the tattooing process slightly less painful. Most of them contain lidocaine and are applied topically during the tattoo process. A couple of really effective ones are Vasocaine spray and H20cean Nothing Glide. These two used in conjunction can take a lot of the pain away. The only catch is that they only work on broken skin, so they just reduce the pain caused by burning and irritation and don’t help much to alleviate the pain from the actual poking of the needle. Furthermore, because they are only effective in the intermediate stages of a tattoo, they are pretty useless for smaller tattoos. Still, during longer sessions they can be a real blessing. Not every tattoo artist offers these sort of products because the really effective ones are quite expensive. If you really feel like you would rather shell out the bucks to feel less pain during the tattoo process, consider buying them yourself online and bringing them for the artist to use only on you during your sessions.
I’m shy. Can my tattoo be done in private?
Absolutely. We are one of the few tattoo shops in the East Valley that offer private studios for each individual artist. If you are concerned with privacy because of the placement or your tattoo or for any other reason, we’ve got you covered.
Do you guys do walk in tattoos?
That depends. If we have an artist available at the time and if it’s a fairly simple design, then of course we are always down to do a walk in. If, however, every artist is already busy tattooing or if your design is a large or complex request, then it might be necessary to schedule an appointment and plan it out ahead of time. Best bet is to call ahead, but you are always welcome to drop by and see if we have an opening. Often times we do, so feel free to pay us a visit!
How do I schedule an appointment?
You can schedule an appointment over the phone, but we prefer that you come by in person so that we can thoroughly discuss the details of the project and get a good idea of how to proceed with the design. You can call ahead to schedule a free consultation, or just drop by in person to talk about your ideas with any of our talented artists. Once we have collaborated with you and zeroed in on your design needs, we will schedule an appointment with you and get the process started. Keep in mind that a deposit is required to schedule a concrete appointment.
Can you draw something for me so I can see if I like it before I get it?
That depends. We get a lot of people coming in asking us to draw up designs for them that they don’t really plan on getting. Because of that, we typically won’t draw anything without a deposit. That way we know that we are getting paid for our time and effort. With that said, in some cases we might be willing to sketch around on some scrap paper with you during a consultation, but that’s usually only for the purpose of conceptualizing a piece before starting the real design. Another thing worth mentioning is that even if you do put down a deposit, you aren’t guaranteed a fully finished drawing. Commissioned fine art is much different from a tattoo design as the tattoo design is only a means to an end, that end being the finished tattoo. Most likely your design will be a loose sketch, a stencil, or a photoshop composition.
How do deposits work?
A deposit is money that is paid upfront to lock in an appointment date. Your deposit does count toward the end price of your tattoo, so it is not extra money that you are paying. It’s just a monetary gesture that ensures us that you are committed to getting the tattoo and showing up for your appointment at the time agreed upon. How much a deposit will be depends on the size and complexity of your tattoo and also which artist you commission the project with. A typical deposit at our shop will be anywhere between $40 and $100. If you don’t show up for your appointment without a 24 hour notice ahead of time, your deposit will be forfeited. At the time of your tattoos completion, your deposit will be factored into the total amount charged for that session and resolved accordingly. If your tattoo requires multiple sessions, your deposit will roll over into each appointment as the sessions are completed. Upon completion of the last session, the deposit will be deducted from the total. Deposits are nonrefundable so please keep that in mind before you decide to commit to an appointment date.
How do I handle the aftercare for my tattoo?
Every tattoo artist handles aftercare differently, and there is no single method that is universally agreed upon as being better than any other. Often times the instructions will vary depending on what kind of tattoo it is and where on the body it is located. It’s best to follow the instructions given by your individual artist. With that said, we do have an aftercare section that discusses the science of healing a tattoo in detail. Included in that section are thorough instructions on how to care for a fresh tattoo with the most common method of aftercare.
Do you guys do custom designs?
Of course we do! We actually prefer to do pieces that are totally original. All of our artists are experienced in creating one of a kind pieces from scratch that will be specifically tailored to your needs and body composition. We create our best artwork when we are given more artistic freedom as this allows us to utilize our full repertoire of skills and knowledge to make the most artistically sound piece possible. Just give us a general idea of what you are visualizing and allow us to add our own input to narrow down the final look of the piece. Often times our clients are shocked at how much better their tattoo looks than what they were originally picturing, and for good reason. We do this every day and dedicate our lives to this craft, so we know what will work and won’t work and will often times have suggestions that the artistic layperson wouldn’t consider. If you need any reassurance of this, please refer to our portfolios. If you like what you see there, you will very likely love the unique, one of a kind piece that we create for you!
Do you do cover ups?
Yes we do. At Dark Horse we believe in second chances. If you have a tattoo that you aren’t happy with, feel free to come and show it to us to discuss the viability of a cover up or rework and see what your options are. Be warned though, that not all poorly done tattoos are salvageable. If it is extremely dark or if there is severe scarring, it might not be something that we can help you with. We handle each cover up or rework inquiry on a case by case basis and will be glad to let you know what we think the best course of action is, whether it is a cover up, rework, or even laser removal. Please understand though, that with some cover ups your options for tattooing may be limited in terms of color palette and subject matter, and that some cover ups can take multiple sessions to completely eradicate any trace of the preexisting tattoo.
What about flash art?
We consider ourselves to be more of a custom shop, so we don’t have any flash art or premade tattoo designs for you to choose from. We may however, be willing to do flash art if you bring it in, just as long as it is obviously meant to be flash and isn’t just someone else’s tattoo design that you are looking to duplicate. We don’t steal artwork from other artists and in most cases we can design something original that’s going to fit and look better for the particular area of the body that you want to get tattooed. If it’s something that can’t be changed without compromising the purpose of the tattoo, such as album art or a world of warcraft symbol, we might make an exception, but you’ll have to talk to the individual artist to see if they are comfortable doing that.
How much do you charge for tattoos?
How we price a tattoo depends on a lot of factors. Every artist charges different amounts and some do hourly, some do flat day rates. Our lowest minimum is $100, and our hourly ranges from $120 to $200 depending on the artist. On very small tattoos we may be able to flat quote a piece, but it depends on the individual artist and the nature of the tattoo. Most of the time we’re going to want to do an hourly rate and just time the sessions as there are a lot of variables that can affect how long a tattoo takes. We can give you a ballpark estimate on how long something might take based on our personal experience, but it’s not a set in stone quote and is only for the purpose of giving a general idea of how much something might cost. There are a lot of things we consider when quoting for a tattoo, including the size and difficulty of the piece, whether it’s color or black and grey, the area of the body it’s going on, and how healthy a person’s skin is. Because there is so much to consider when estimating the price of a tattoo, we prefer to do estimates in person so that we can see the area to be tattooed and try to visualize what it might take to complete the project in question.
Do you ever do offer discounts for tattoos on special days, like Friday the 13th?
We do not.
Do you do piercings?
We do not. We are only a tattoo shop. If, however, you would like us to recommend a competent piercer we would be happy to do so.
How old do you have to be to get a tattoo?
To receive a tattoo without parental consent you must be at least 18 years old. You’ll need a government issued photo ID to get tattooed so please remember to bring that with you when you come in for your session. For persons under the age of 18, whether or not we would be willing to tattoo you depends on the individual artist and the placement and nature of the tattoo. Most of our artists won’t do a tattoo on anyone under 18. If you are a minor and you do have parental consent, make sure to bring a government issued photo ID for both you and your parent, and also bring an original birth certificate or certified copy to prove that that person is indeed your legal guardian.
Do you allow children in the shop?
Although we are among the more professional and amicable shops in Arizona, we don’t believe that tattoo shops are an appropriate place for children. It is an adult only industry and tattoo artists generally don’t follow the same types of rules that would be in effect in a more corporate environment. We sometimes use foul language and can be slightly more crass than the average Joe with regards to what we say, what we wear, and the type of music we listen to. Some of our artwork may not be appropriate for children to view. Sometimes there is nudity in the shop if a client is getting tattooed in a private area and we don’t want to change the way we do our job due to the presence of children. Not only that but there is a lot of delicate and expensive equipment around that’s easy for kids to damage or contaminate. Kids tend to be less aware of what they are touching and where they are putting their hands and we have to try to keep everything as clean as possible to lessen the chances of cross contamination between clients so that no one gets an infection or blood borne disease. Also, children tend to scream and cry a lot, and it’s very hard to focus on doing a job like ours with that sort of thing going on. Please be considerate of the artists and other clients by leaving your children with a babysitter before you come in for your session.
What kind of inks do you use?
There are several high quality brands of tattoo ink, including Eternal, Fusion, Starbrite, and Intenze to name a few. Most of our artists use multiple brands due to the varying selection of pigments between them. All of the brands previously mentioned are vegan friendly and don’t use glycerin carriers that come from animal products such as fat or crushed bone. They are organic predispersed pigments that are very safe for use in the skin. While it is possible to have an allergic reaction to a particular pigment, it is extremely rare and is probably one of the least likely things to cause a tattoo to heal poorly. Rest assured that we use high quality pigments here at Dark Horse.
Will my tattoo fade over time?
Unfortunately, yes. Every tattoo fades to a certain degree over time. There are several reasons for this, one of them being UV exposure. Each pigment, whether in tattooing or oil painting, has a different degree of lightfastness and will fade accordingly over time. Black ink is among the most lightfast, so black tattoos tend to last longer than color tattoos that have a wide variety of pigments with different levels of lightfastness. Another way that tattoos fade is by pigment particles naturally passing out of the body via the circulatory system. When a tattoo is first applied the pigment particles are held in the skin by antibody cells called macrophages that flock to the tattooed area to try to fight off whatever is going on. These macrophages swallow up pigment particles in an attempt to prevent their spreading throughout the body, consequently perpetuating the act of tattooing due to the permanence that results. They remain suspended in the skin indefinitely, but some of the particles end up escaping naturally and passing out of the body through waste excretion. When this happens the tattoo can fade over time as a result. Interestingly, laser removal breaks up the pigment particles with light and causes them to pass out of the body in the same fashion, only in much larger amounts. With all of that in mind, a tattoo that is properly applied will last several decades, and in most cases it will last the rest of a person’s life, although it will be significantly lighter than it was at the time of the application.
Do you do black light tattoos?
We do not. After seeing many attempts at black light tattoos, we believe that they don’t have the same resilience and permanence that more conventional pigments possess. They are very difficult to apply properly and don’t look the same when they heal as they do when they are first done.
Do you do permanent makeup or tattoo removal?
We don’t provide either of those services here. While we do tattoo people’s faces and have plenty of experience with that, there are licenses and certifications required to do permanent makeup in the state of Arizona that we don’t really care to obtain. Most tattoo artists don’t know much about makeup and we stay away from that sort of thing and leave it to those professionals. The same applies for laser removal. It would be awesome to offer that service here but frankly the equipment cost and training expenses aren’t worth it for us.
Is it safe to get a tattoo?
It is pretty safe. There are always going to be certain risks, such as infections or other health complications, but for a person that is in good general health they are pretty low. If you are wondering if your preexisting medical condition, such as diabetes or anemia, might increase the chance of a tattoo causing health problems for you, consult with your physician and take their advice. As far as blood borne disease goes, rest assured that we use all of the latest techniques and equipment to prevent cross contamination between clients as well as bacterial infection. All of our artists have undergone blood borne pathogen training and are very strict in their process for setting up and breaking down sterile work stations before and after tattoo sessions. Everything that we use is disposable, with the exception of our tattoo machines and electrical equipment, which are wiped with hospital grade virucidal disinfectants such as cavacide or madacide after each tattoo is completed. Most tattoo shops have an ultrasonic and autoclave for sterilizing reusable equipment such as tubes, grips and tips. These autoclaves have to be regularly spore tested with log sheets that should be readily available for clients to view upon request to ensure the effectiveness of the machine. Unfortunately, most tattoo shops do not do this essential spore testing because it takes a lot of time and effort, which is totally unacceptable. We aren’t about cutting corners here at Dark Horse, so instead of having the headache of a properly maintained autoclave, we use all disposable equipment so that there is no need to wonder whether or not the gear used during your tattoo has been contaminated with microorganisms from another person’s blood. With this method, the chances of contracting a blood borne illness are slim to none.
What forms of payment do you accept?
We prefer cash, but we also accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and Apple Pay. We do not do trades or accept EBT. Payment is due upon the conclusion of each tattoo session.
What should I do prior to showing up for my appointment?
Get a good night’s sleep before you come in, especially if you are in for a long session. Make sure to eat a good meal before you come in as well. A small percentage of people feel faint during their tattoo session, and the likelihood of experiencing this feeling is increased if a person’s blood sugar is low. This next one should go without saying, but please take a shower and brush your teeth beforehand if you haven’t already earlier in the day. We’re going to be close to you and it’s difficult to focus on doing our best when a client has an unpleasant odor. Don’t put any lotion or oils on your skin prior to coming in for your session either as they can prevent stencils from binding properly to the skin prior to the start of the tattoo. If you are in for a long session, you may want to come in prepared in the same way you might prepare for a long car ride, because you won’t be able to stand up and walk around or move around very much during the session. Snacks, drinks, a book, a tablet, and other such items are mostly ok to have in the studio while getting tattooed. Dress comfortably with clothing that will allow easy access to the tattooed area, and make sure that you don’t wear clothing that you are afraid will be ruined. Tattoo ink is nearly impossible to wash out of clothes once it has dried and there is a chance a small amount will get on your clothing. You can bring a friend or two with you, but please don’t bring a big squad of people who aren’t also planning on being tattooed. Sometimes too many people can be distracting and often times they cause the person being tattooed to move around and gesture much more than usual, which isn’t the best thing for the end result of the piece. Bring people with you that will make you feel calm, not the kinds who will be trolling you and overstimulating you. Overall you just want to put yourself in a position where you feel relaxed and focused on the endeavor at hand. The more comfortable you and your artist are, the smoother the whole experience will be.
Should I tip my tattoo artist?
If you are happy with your tattoo, then you probably should tip the artist. Most artists are working on a percentage based system where they only receive a portion of what the cost of your tattoo ends up being. The only part of that income they don’t have to split with the shop is the tip, so it really does make a big difference in their income for the day if they are tipped well. This person has just imbued you with a piece that represents all of the collective struggle that they had to go through to attain their current level of skill in tattooing. Please reward them for that struggle as it takes a tremendous amount of sacrifice to become a tattoo artist worthy of being called a professional. Tips are by no means required, but are definitely appreciated.