How to Find a Tattoo Artist
The decision to get your first tattoo is a monumental life choice. Tattoos are designed to be permanent so you must try your best to get it right the first time. Having a tattoo removed is generally more difficult and expensive than having one put on. Choosing both a design and an artist should be well thought out and researched decisions.
Choosing a Tattoo Artist
Think about the reasons why you want to have a tattoo. Make sure you understand what the tattoo will mean to you personally. Next, think about tattoo designs you like. Have you admired ink on friends? Do you covet the tattoo of a famous celebrity? Has some ink on Pinterest captured your attention?
If your friends have had work done that you admire, ask for referrals. When talking with them, get specific reasons why they liked their artist. Did they feel the communication was good? Why? Did the artist design the tattoo or did your friends pick designs out of the artist’s portfolio? Was the studio clean? Was the artist punctual? Why did they choose the style of tattoo they have? What does their tattoo mean to them? If they were to get another tattoo would they do anything differently?
If the ink you admire is from a website like Pinterest, do your best to source both the style of tattoo and the artist. If the tattoo you desire is based on one a celebrity has, do the same. If you need to, approach strangers with ink you like and ask them questions. Most people are proud of their tattoos and happy to share information. You can also purchase tattoo magazines to research styles and artists.
Once you have found several tattoo artists you are interested in, look at their portfolios. Many portfolios are available online. If the artists you are interested in do not have online portfolios, take time to visit the shop where they work. Keep in mind that portfolios are designed to showcase an artist’s best work. Scrutinize the lines on the tattoos in the portfolio to make sure they are straight and smooth. Colors should be bold and filled in completely.
After you have viewed several portfolios, visit the shop where the artist works. While getting a tattoo, you are exposed to blood borne pathogens and risk infection. Make sure the shop is sparkling clean. Artists should wear latex gloves. Instruments should be sterilized with an autoclave. Waste should be disposed of by medically appropriate methods. Tattoos should be bandaged with proper medical materials not plastic wrap.
In addition, you should feel comfortable with the staff. They should be able to kindly and appropriately answer your questions. Ask the staff if you can observe the studio for half an hour or more. While observing, watch how clients are treated, instruments are handled and how the artist works. Ask the staff at the studio what aftercare is recommended for new tattoos.
Next, meet with the artist or artists you admire. This meeting should last twenty minutes or more. Bring a list of questions you have regarding getting a tattoo. Once your questions are answered, ask the artist if there is anything he or she can add. You may hire this person to put a permanent expression on your body. You must get all of your questions answered and feel comfortable with him or her.
Good communication with the artist is important. You should clearly understand him or her. In turn, you should feel like you are understood. You should leave this meeting feeling like you have an excellent working relationship with the artist.
Here are some examples of questions you may want to ask the artist:
• What style of tattooing is your favorite? Why?
• Which tattoo in your portfolio is your favorite?
• Do you have a license?
• What is your artistic background?
• Where did you do your apprenticeship?
• How long have you been working at this location?
• Do you do custom work?
• If you are using an artist that has not been referred by a friend, ask the artist for references.
If you cannot find someone in your area whose work you admire, consider traveling to find the right artist. A tattoo is a permanent and you want your ink to be perfect. Traveling can be expensive, but the time and money are well spent if you get a tattoo you love. Five years from now you probably won’t remember how much your tattoo cost. If a word is misspelled on your tattoo, you will remember it forever.
Working with a Tattoo Artist to Create Your Design
First, take your time deciding what your first tattoo will mean to you. Consider where you would like the tattoo placed. Next, make a consultation appointment with the artist you plan to use. Do not go to this appointment empty handed. Bring in pictures, sketches and any other materials the tattoo artist can examine. To get inspired, you can visit your local art museum or a tattoo convention. If you live in a rural area, you can order magazines and research tattoo styles online. Even if you are not a good sketcher, create a rough outline of what you want and bring it with you to the appointment. The more you can bring to the artist, the more likely the artist is to give you the tattoo you desire.
After this appointment, the tattoo artist should have enough information to make a sketch of the design. Most of the time, the artist will schedule another appointment with you to review his or her sketch. If modifications are necessary, do not hesitate to ask for them. Be sure to ask the artist how much the design will cost. Keep in mind that it is customary to tip a tattoo artist for individual design work in addition to his or her fee.
Once you have decided on a tattoo artist, a design and a location for your tattoo, take a breather from the process to make sure you are ready. If you must schedule an appointment, choose a date that is at least a month in the future from your last consultation with the artist.