You have questions, we have answers and other advice.

I am interested in a tattoo, now what do I do?

Decide which artist fits you best.
The best thing you could do is to find an artist that has a style you like and does industry standard, quality work. You need to be able to trust your artist, after all – your skin is in their hands.

Each of our artists have over 5 years of tattooing under their machines, we’ve got the quality part of your tattoo equation covered. The best way to find the artist with the right style for you, is to look at their previous work. Stop by the shop and look at their portfolios. We really enjoy talking to our patrons, and understand choosing and trusting an artist can be a process, especially for your first tattoo. Don’t hesitate to just stop by and hang for a bit. Get a feel for us and the shop you’d be getting your tattoo in. Plus we talk about whale and play rad music – it will be a great experience.

Another option, because you are already on the internet is to visit the artist galleries here on our website. The artists also have their latest work on their individual instagram pages [Tim Bradley – @stringsandink or Jon Jenkins – @beartats]. If you can’t stop in and want to get a feel of our shop head over to our shop instagram as well.


I’ve decided what artist I’d like to work with, now what?

Email them.

If you don’t have time to stop into the shop, the next best thing to do is email the artist you’d like to work with.  And if you still haven’t decided, or don’t care which of the artist you’d get, go ahead and email the shop.

Tim Bradley –
Jon Jenkins –
Shop –

To better help your artist in the communication process and to better understand the tattoo you’d like, here is a list of things you could include in your email: [Heck, you could even copy and paste the following if you’d like :]

Phone #:
General Availability: see our booking hours
Part of Body:
Tattoo Idea:
Reference Resources (*):
Budget For the Project (Optional):
Would you like an IN-PERSON consult? (These are usually needed for larger pieces):

(*) Please attach any images necessary (resource images, image of body part, etc.) to your initial email reply. Additional reference can be discussed further.


Is a deposit needed? And do you have a cancellation policy?

Yes and yes.

Single session tattoos require a $50 deposit, which will be subtracted from your total final cost. A 72 hour cancellation notice is required to guarantee deposit return.

Multiple session tattoos require a $100 deposit. $50  is applied towards drawing time, $50 is subtracted from the total cost of the final appointment. A 1 week cancellation notice is required to guarantee deposit return. We are human, and we know you are too, so don’t be afraid to let us know what’s up so we can best help!

How do I make the deposit?
Deposits must be made in cash in person or credit card via paypal. To use, you can send the appropriate payment to the address of your respective artist.

Tim Bradley –
Jon Jenkins –

I’ve booked my appointment, what should I know before my session?


Tattoos hurt. Period. Some people take it better than others, and some locations are less painful than others. Either way – it can take a bit of a toll on your body. While being tattooed, many clients, even beyond their best efforts, tend to get a little tense. This tension tends to use a lot of muscle energy, and muscles take energy from your blood in the form of sugar to perform. This can cause your blood sugar level drop. Don’t worry – this is totally normal and can be prevented most of the time if you eat before hand. We recommend eating about an hour and a half before your appointment.  If you are sitting for a longer session, feel free to bring in some snacks to nibble on for the entirety of your appointment.

Wear comfortable clothing.

Getting tattooed isn’t the most pleasurable experience when it comes to comfort. However, wearing comfortable clothing can make the whole experience that much better. Also, depending on the placement of your tattoo, wearing the right article of can help you and the artist. Example:

Upper Arm Tattoo/Sleeve – Tanktop or Sleeveless Shirt

Okay that one may be kind of self explanatory, but other situations do arise…

Chest Tattoo – Spaghetti Strapped Tanks
It usually covers the nipples, and the straps can be pulled to the side

Under Boob, Belly Tats, Full Back Tats – Button Up T-shirts
We have “pasties” to cover up nipples, but a lot of the time, to keep a bit warmer you can wear the button down, with the buttons open. This allows for your arms to stay warm.  For the full back tat, you whole back needs to be exposed, but to keep warm and to cover the front of your body, you can wear the button down – essentially backwards.

Thigh/Calf Tattoo – Shorts
Depending on how high your tattoo goes you may want to consider not wearing underwear, but bringing them for afterwards.

Foot Tats – Flip Flops/Flats
Anything that will leave the top of your foot open

Blankets, Headphones, A Book, and More
You are more than welcome to bring these items to make you more comfortable. To keep warm, to focus on something, to relax, as long as it’s not hurting anyone – we want you to bring whatever make you as comfortable as possible.

Is there any other discomfort I need to worry about?

  • You will not be sexualized in our business. We understand that what we do is an intimate process, no matter how big or small the tattoo, or how private the piercing. At Great Whale, it is our #1 concern that you feel comfortable. In these most vulnerable of situations, you deserve respect, careful and honest consideration, and quality work. As artists we are honored when we are chosen to  do what we love and adorn you for life. It is an amazing relationship that we take VERY SERIOUSLY, and we all sincerely appreciate that, and you.
  • You will not be judged for your gender, the pronouns you prefer, or the way you look or choose to dress.   At Great Whale, you are welcome to identify as you please. Our favorite thing about being located in Madison is the incredible variety of wonderful, colorful, beautiful people we get to know. We can’t wait to get to know you, and we welcome your perspective. We only have one bathroom, but even if we had 10, they’d be for all of our clients.
  •  You will be in a safe space. We do not tolerate bigotry or hate-speech OF ANY KIND in our shop.  We excitedly welcome every race, gender, sexuality, identity, and etc into our business. You can trust that if ANYONE starts making comments that are offensive or hurtful to you in any way, they WILL be called out by our staff, and they WILL be asked to leave.

We will constantly be adding to this page as we think of more. Please check back for more helpful tips in the future. If you have any questions you would like answered, please feel free to email the shop at

Tuesday - 12p-8p
Wednesday - 12p-8p
Thursday - 12p-8p
Friday - 12p-8p
Saturday - 12p-8p
Sunday - Closed
Monday - Closed