You're looking to get some new ink. You've been all over the web getting ideas, and now you need to find a tattoo artist to ink you up. If you’re new to the tattoo world, chances are, you aren’t familiar with the tattoo artists in your area.
So, if you’re looking into finding the right person to create a long-lasting memory on your skin, there are a few things you should think about first.
"Cheap tattoos aren't good, and good tattoos aren't cheap."
Make sure the artist you’re going to is reputable. There’s a saying in the tattoo community that encompasses everything you really need to know “Cheap tattoos aren’t good, and good tattoos aren’t cheap.”
If you’re looking to get tattoo work at dirt-cheap prices, you’re better off waiting until you can save up to pay the average $60 per hour (up to even $250-$300 an hour) price tag that most reputable artists will charge.
When you find a good tattoo artist, they'll likely cost a bit more, and you get what you pay for. Beware of "scratchers," these at-home artists will tout a large game, but they usually haven’t had any formal training in handling the equipment or sterilization.
The last thing you need is a dirty tattoo. While you may feel that eliminating cheap tattoo work and scratchers may lower your ability to find a tattoo artist, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are reputable and talented tattoo artists all across the world.
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Do your research when trying to find a tattoo artist. If you have friends and family with tattoo work that you like, ask them for information on the artist who did it. The same can be said if you see the artwork on the street or a stranger, though, in those scenarios, it's best not to pressure people for the information.
Most tattoo lovers are more than happy to pass more clients on to their favorite artists, but it’s important to be respectful when asking for this information. Another key resource is the internet, which can help to find some local tattoo artists. Search for artists here. Make sure that when you do this, you’re checking out their online portfolios as well.
Pick the artist based on the style of tattoo you want:
All artists have their own specialty, and the same can be said for tattoo artists. You may find a few jacks of all trades out there, but most will focus quite heavily on their own preferred style.
When picking an artist, if you have a set style in mind, make sure you’re mentioning the style you want this in and ask to see any relevant pictures in their portfolio. A few of the most common specialties are:
Black and grey.
Look out for cleanliness and sterile practices:
This is a big one and should always be something everyone considers before they get new ink. The cleanliness of the shop you’re considering getting tattooed in is extremely important. Some things to look out for are:
Make sure the shop has pre-sterilized needles that are individually packaged.
The artist covers his/her machine during use (including the cord)
Green soap or another antimicrobial spray.
An autoclave or other sterilization equipment. (This isn’t necessary if the artist purchases pre-sterilized equipment)
The shop is free of debris.
The artists use sharps containers to dispose of needles properly.
Ink bottle tips never touch the ink cups to prevent cross-contamination.
All of these are extremely important to consider when choosing a tattoo artist. Any reputable artist will have done all of these things and beyond to ensure their workspace's sterility.
Lastly, you need to make sure that you can get along well with your artist. Most tattoo artists are pretty down to earth. So long as you come in with at least some knowledge on what you want, they’re going to make your dreams come true. But, if you seem to butt heads, it may be best to find a different artist.
Some artists like to chat when they're working, and others get in the zone when inking, some even putting on headphones while they tattoo you. However it goes, just let them do their thing, the result will typically be worth it.
Remember, when you're looking to find a tattoo artist and go in asking for tattoo work, it is your artist’s job to create something that’s going to be aesthetically pleasing. While you may not like hearing it, your artist might have ideas or suggestions on how they can improve your tattoo. Often they'll be great ideas, hear them out, and allow them to sketch up their idea. Allowing your artist a little bit of freedom with the design, or size, or placement is a good thing and will almost always equate to a breathtaking tattoo that you'll be happy with.