There are several important factors in selecting a tattoo shop and artist. Cleanliness, professionalism, talent, and an ability to communicate well and understand your needs are important in feeling comfortable with the permanent decision you’re going to make. Tattoo Sams is a local studio off of Main Street in High Point, North Carolina, seated next to Alex’s House. We had driven past Tattoo Sam’s many times over the years and there always seemed to be customers there. We started asking people around town when we spotted work on them where they received it and more than one person directed us to Stickman over at Tattoo Sam’s. My husband and I were both looking for fairly simple pieces and while the work we had seen around town wasn’t always stellar it was certainly more than good enough for the simple symbols we were looking for.
Appearance is very important in a tattoo shop. You want the place to be clean, sterile, organized, and clutter free. Regardless of how good the artists may be, the overall appearance of the shop leaves a lasting impression on your experience and can turn a potentially fantastic one into a mediocre one. If the shop isn’t clean or isn’t up to what you deem professional it can also leave you doubting how good your artist really is and question the safety of the procedure.
We arrived after 6pm on a weekday without an appointment to check the place out and see if they had room to get us worked in. If we were looking for large or custom pieces we would not have expected same day service but many shops are ready to do smaller pieces without an appointment. We waited around for a few minutes before we were finally greeted by Sam himself, who honestly appeared to be in a daze. We explained what we wanted and he directed us over to Stickman for the work we were looking for. As we waited for Stickman to get his room ready I looked around the shop. It is most definitely old and not well loved, either that or the profit margin is not very large. The carpet is old, the furniture is old, it reeks of smoke inside and the décor is less than modern. While the place is clean, it is easy to think that it is dirty because of the style of furniture, smell, and overall age and color of everything in the shop. They have tons of flash, but unlike most shops the flash is not in plastic cases being displayed from the walls, and instead it is in black binders on a shelf. There are a few photo books with each artists work but the collection is not extensive. There were also several kids toys in one area and I was later told the owners child comes in sometimes with him. Overall the appearance of the shop is not inviting, confidence inducing, or welcoming.
After about 10-15 minutes Stickman finished getting his room ready and taking his cigarette break and then brought us into his room and started on our pieces. He cleaned everything in front of us, using all new needles and bags and put on gloves. My husband went first and Stickman sprayed him down with alcohol, stenciled him and got to work. The piece came out fantastic and healed very well. I have to admit I was very impressed.
I went next and I got a small heart put on my foot. This is my third tattoo and it certainly hurt the worst of any of them and the healing time has been a nightmare, but that is typical of foot tattoos. I was unsure which direction I wanted my heart to face and Stickman was patient with me stenciling it on and wiping it off and letting me try it on different ways. He wanted me to be positive I liked it and did not hurry me at all.
Overall Tattoo Sam’s was a positive experience; however, the shop could seriously use some TLC. Even though the work we received was great and the artist was professional I would not feel comfortable requesting a large or complicated piece in this particular shop. If some more time were dedicated to cleaning up the appearance of the shop and adding some polish to the artists (or owner) this shop could do really well as the area it is located in is small and there are not many tattoo shops in the area.
Overall the work was good, the price was very good for the size of the pieces we got, and everything was clean and sterile. The negatives would be the shops appearance, the lack of enthusiasm at new customers coming in, and the smell of smoke. Many people in North Carolina smoke and many restaurants here still having smoking sections so many people many not find that offensive but I personally do. The shop also had plenty of customers coming in and it is always a comfort to see other people getting work in the same place. I would have to rate it 3 out of 5 stars.
I currently have Hayley Lakeman from Fu’s Tattoos working on a larger hip piece for me. She is at a shop in Charlotte, North Carolina. Once I receive my work from there I will review that shop as well and do a comparison to Tattoo Sam’s. I have already visited Fu’s in Charlotte and they are very clean, professional, and up to date which is why I am having my larger custom piece done there.
Tattoo Sam’s is located at 1225 N Main St, High Point, NC 27262. Phone Number (336) 886-1608.