…So, you’re thinking about getting your first tattoo. You’ve got a hundred thoughts brewing in your head, and you think you’ve got a unique tattoo idea ever. You may say to yourself, “I’m going to get something for my family, maybe the flag of where my ancestors are from and a cross representing my religion with wings and a halo representing my grandparents that passed. Oh, maybe with their names in each wing.
I really like tribal, so I’ll have some of that wrapped around the whole design and a quote I found online, but I don’t want it too big because it’s my first tattoo. I want to start small because if my parents find out about it, I will be in trouble. Oh yeah, I also don’t have a lot of money, so the price is an issue.” Tattoo artists hear this dialogue constantly.
I’ll let you in on a secret: this is a bad way to go about getting your first tattoo or any tattoo for that matter. If you had a similar thought process, don’t feel bad: many people don’t know how to get the best tattoo possible. That’s why I’m writing this article. Whether it’s your first or your fiftieth tattoo idea, read along to discover how to make it something you’ll always want to show off.
1. Know your artist.
Have you seen his/her work before? If not, make sure to look at portfolios of his/her work, make sure they work in the portfolio is up to your standards, and most importantly, the work in the portfolio in the style you like? If you want a realistic tattoo, but there aren’t any photos of realistic-looking tattoos, this could mean a few things. First, this could mean that this particular artist wants to display a certain work style to continue to get clients who want that style of tattoo.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she cannot do anything else. If you don’t see what you like, ask the artist if he/she has any photos of tattoos done in the style you are looking for. If nothing can be shown to you, you’d be a fool to get your tattoo from that artist. He/she either can’t or has no interest in doing what you are looking for. If that’s the case, move on to someone else. There’s an abundance of artists and shops to go to and get the best tattoo design for you.
2. Keep It Basic.
Don’t set yourself up for an upset by being completely committed to a complicated design before talking to a professional artist about your idea first. General concepts are key. If any specific details are important to the design, let your artist know, but be prepared to let some things go if they won't work.
Bringing reference material is a huge help. Bring in photos from magazines, the internet, books, your phone, or your iPad. Anything that you can visually show to the artist will make the process for him/her much easier. But again, don’t expect to get exactly what you bring to the studio, especially if you bring photos of other tattoos.
3. Open Dialogue with Your Artist.
It’s important to have a good flow of ideas between the two of you. You must understand that if you are in a professional studio, your artist knows more about this than you. He/she will know what will look good and what won't. Listen to his/her advice. If you are told that you want too many things in one tattoo, consider taking some elements out and getting them as separate tattoos. Clashing elements almost always make for a bad image.
If you absolutely need to have all of the elements in one tattoo, then be prepared to do it larger than you are probably already considering. There’s only so much detail that can be packed in an area. This also goes back to making sure your artist can do what you want. Some artists can work smaller than others. So if the size is an issue, note the size of certain elements in each tattoo your artist has already done.
4. Give Your Artist Artistic Freedom.
You will get a much better tattoo if you leave your dominance at home. Constricting your artist's freedom will leave you with a stiff tattoo with no heart and soul in it. This doesn’t only mean with the design but with your budget as well. If you are looking to get a tattoo but have a set budget, let your artist know before planning.
Tattoos aren’t cheap, and you get what you pay for and hence the importance of finding a good tattoo artist. There will always be someone willing to do your tattoo cheaper, but you have to ask yourself, why? What is the skimping on? If you know you want to get a tattoo by someone specific, be respectful of the price. If you cannot swing it at first, save up for it and come back later.
Despite what you see on tv, tattoos take a long time to do. Also, artists put in many hours that you don’t see while preparing for your tattoo. Sometimes more time goes into drawing for a tattoo than the actual tattoo itself. It only takes a little knowledge and preparation on the tattoo enthusiast to get the best possible tattoo.
Sometimes it may mean waiting a few months to get an appointment, traveling, and/or being open-minded. But in the long run, that tattoo will be with you every day for the rest of your life. Ultimately, it’s your choice on how it turns out, either a great tattoo or a haunting for eternity. It’s better to know these things before getting your tattoo.