Reputation is all.
Tattoo artists fall into two different categories: those who have had formal training or an apprenticeship and “scratchers.’
The scratcher is an untrained tattooist who may be artistically gifted but rarely bothers sterilizing his instruments. The scratcher may work out of a studio, but often works from his home, a basement or the back room of a bar. They may describe themselves as freelancer. A scratcher often purchases equipment through the Internet or email. The worst thing about a scratcher is their tendency to reuse needles which of course can lead to fatal diseases such as hepatitis or AIDS.