Since I got my fifth tattoo recently, I thought I’d do a post on tips and things to think about when planning / considering getting a tattoo, these are the things I personally do each time I book an appointment and I thought it may be helpful to share, since I get asked a lot of questions about it!
1). figure out what you want and plan
Now this of course is the most obvious point when getting a tattoo, but I think it’s important to talk about. Make sure you know what you want. If you’re not too fussed you can give your artist a rough idea and they’ll draw something up for you, or if you specifically want a certain thing then show the artist what you want. It’s important to note that artists will rarely ever copy a design like for like (if they do, you probably need to be going somewhere else) because it would be classed as plagiarism and most artists prefer to draw something up themselves. For example, I couldn’t go to an artist with a photograph of another artist’s work and say “I want this exact tattoo” because no (reputable) artist would agree to tattoo that exact same design.
Figure out size, placement and provide reference pictures if you can. It’s important to remember that being able to have your tattoo also depends on where you want to put it, for example – you could not have a legible paragraph of words on the side of your hand.
Whenever I book an appointment with my tattoo artist I always ensure to include all of these things in my initial enquiry, so that she’s able to give me an accurate roundabout price and draw something up for me that I’m going to want. You can reference other people’s work during this process of course, and the artist will then do their own take on the design. The more information you know and provide about your tattoo, the easier it will be for your artist to present you with a design that you like. If you want birds, say which birds, if you want colours, say which colours – the list goes on. Of course, you don’t have to know everything specifically, but if you don’t provide much information, don’t be surprised if the artist presents you with a design you don’t like – they’re not a mind reader!
2). think about the future
After you’ve planned your tattoo, it’s important to remember that this is going to be on your body forever, so think carefully. Is this something I’m still going to like in 10 years? Is this something I’m going to want on my body when I’m 40 years old? Is this something I will still want to show off when I’m married with children? Whatever you get on your body will be with you every day for the rest of your life, so think about the fact that your mindset and interests at 18 may not be the same as what they are when you’re 35. Also keep in mind that companies (unfortunately) do judge people by tattoos, piercings, crazy hair colours etc., so if there’s a profession that you want to go into that requires you to have no (visible) tattoos at least, be strategic with your placements – i.e. stay away from hand and neck tattoos (for now).
3). know which style you want
After you’ve planned your tattoo and agreed that it won’t be something you’re going to hideously regret in 10 years, you can now start to figure out which style you want. Each artist has their own specific style of tattooing and their own area of expertise, so keep this in mind when choosing an artist, for example – do not go to a portrait tattooist if you want dot work. There are many different styles of tattooing such as traditional, realism, blackwork, dot work, etc. I’m extremely picky with the style of tattoo that I want therefore I always go to the same artist, I also do this because I want my tattoos to blend nicely together and so having them all done in the same style by the same person helps to achieve this.
4). research the artist / shop
The most important thing that a lot of people actually don’t do – they don’t research the process and just assume that their nearest tattoo shop will be able to do a good job of their tattoo. This couldn’t be more inaccurate. Like I said before, I’m extremely picky with the style of tattoo that I want because I only like one specific look (on myself) therefore, I will obviously only go to an artist that tattoos this style. The nearest artist to me that tattoos in this specific way is probably around 45 minutes from my house even though there are many, many other tattoo shops a lot closer. My mum always asks why I choose to travel 45 minutes for a tattoo when there’s literally dozens of tattoo shops 10 minutes away from me and this is because she doesn’t understand the concept that each artist has their own specific style and each tattoo shop is different – just because there’s a tattoo shop down the road from you, doesn’t mean they’re going to be able to do a good job, this could be from anything such as them not specialising in the specific style you want, or simply just not being a reputable place.
Research. Research. Research. I spent hours trawling through the internet before finding my tattoo artist – social media is a great tool in this day and age so Facebook and Instagram pages are super helpful. Look at their reviews, look at their portfolios, see if the artist has ever tattooed a similar design to what you’re asking for and see if you like it. In the beginning, I’d only found one artist on Instagram that tattooed in the style that I liked but she was hours away from me and her waiting list was around a year long (I’m not kidding), so I needed to find someone else. There’s an option on Instagram called ‘suggested’ that allows you to see similar accounts to the one you’re looking at and this is how I eventually found my artist – but it definitely didn’t just happen overnight. This is the person you’re trusting to put something on your body for the rest of your life, it’s not a decision you can make lightly. Make sure you know who you’re putting your trust in before taking the plunge.
5). be aware of pricing
Tattoos are expensive, and what you pay for is what you get. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is (unless it’s flash etc.). If you cut corners and pay pennies for your art, you’re going to end up with a shoddy tattoo and probably some kind of infection (kidding, but not really). A lot of people are taken aback when I tell them how much my tattoos cost me because again, they don’t understand the concept of pricing and how much they actually are. Be prepared to pay a decent amount of money for your tattoo and obviously, the bigger and more detailed it is or the more well known your tattoo artist is, the more you’ll pay.
6). be patient
Like I said in point 4, it took me a long time to find the right tattoo artist for me. If you’re wanting to spontaneously get a tattoo within the next 24 hours, then this isn’t the right guide for you. Proper tattoo planning is a process and may take a while – planning your tattoo, finding your artist, and most importantly, booking the date, will rarely happen overnight. Obviously, if you’re booking in with a smaller / local tattoo shop then you can expect to wait a couple of weeks maximum however, if like me the tattoo artist you’re with is quite popular and has a lot of customers, be prepared to wait. Right now I usually have to book around 3 months in advance for my tattoos, but as the artist’s popularity increases, this will obviously go up. With my most recent tattoo, I booked this at the beginning of January and my appointment was at the end of March, this was also the case for the previous two that were done by this artist.
extra info / tips
Never bargain with an artist – Tattooing is an art, never under any circumstances try and bargain with an artist for the price of your tattoo. It’s extremely offensive and the artist will probably tell you to (not so politely) get out. Like I said before, if you want to pay pennies for your tattoo, be prepared to end up with a terrible design and probably a nice infection to go with it.
Don’t ask an artist to send you their design beforehand – If you’re having an artist draw something up for you, don’t be surprised if they tell you to wait until the day to see it. Like I said, tattooing is an art – 9/10 times an artist will not send you their design beforehand because this then gives you the opportunity to A). steal the design and B). take it to another artist to get tattooed instead. This loses the artist both time and money and by not sending you the design it also prevents you from basically harassing them with emails asking them to change bits of it every two minutes.
Remember, the artist knows best – For the most part, artists always know best. Obviously, there are cases where the artist doesn’t know best and people end up with a tattoo they didn’t ask for, but I feel like you’d be smart enough to pick up on those signs anyway before having them stick a needle in you. Work with your artist to create something that you love but also listen to them if they tell you that it needs to be bigger or if certain things won’t work. A lot of the time, words especially will need to be bigger than you probably originally planned them in order to be legible – if you wanted a phrase in a small font on your ribs, be prepared to think again. Placement is also key with this because your tattoo will obviously need to fit the space you want it in, skin moves and so you may need to alter your design slightly in order for it to look good. Don’t try and argue with the artist about their profession, but do always make sure you let them know what you do and don’t want in order to avoid a bad end result.
Hopefully these tips were helpful loves and let me know if you have any questions – I’d be happy to answer them.
All my love,