When it comes to your first tattoo, there are plenty of uncertainties. Your tattoo artist, however, shouldn’t be one of them. Before anyone ever makes a mark on your skin, you need to be totally confident that you’ve selected the right artist for the job.
5 Tips for Finding the Ideal Tattoo Artist
At risk of sounding like your mother, we must reiterate the fact that tattoos are permanent. When someone tattoos your skin, it stays forever. Sure, mistakes can be corrected down the road, but this is expensive, frustrating, and not ideal. It’s worth taking a little more time and spending a slight premium to get with a quality tattoo the first time around.
Tattoo artists are like any other type of professional artist. Skills and styles vary. Some are green, while others have years of experience. Some have a relatively rudimentary style, while others have spent decades perfecting their own unique look.
Depending on your location, you may have dozens of talented artists to choose from. Here’s how you pick the right one:
Don’t search for a tattoo artist on your own. The more people you can involve in the process, the better.
“Your friends can be a great resource to you. If they have had a good experience, they will probably recommend their artist. And if they’ve had a bad experience, they can warn you not to make the same mistake,” Karen Hudson writes for Byrdie. “Ask around. If you’re outgoing, and you see someone walking down the street with a great tattoo, don’t be afraid to ask them where they got it. Most of us love to talk about our tattoos.”
Do Online Research
It used to be that you had to stop by tattoo studios and flip through binders to find a tattoo artist with a style that fit your own. These days, you can do most of your due diligence online.
Any talented tattoo artist will have a website and online portfolio. And if they take their craft seriously, it’ll show in how they design their website and online image.
Take Hand of Glory Tattoo as an example. Notice how sleek and well-designed the site is. The images are high-resolution, the information is clear, and it’s easy to navigate. When contrasted with websites that have blurry pictures and incomplete information, it’s easy to see which artists take their crafts seriously.
When studying an artist’s portfolio, take the time to carefully analyze their designs. The details of individual pieces will tell you a lot about the skill of the artist.
“Look at the lines closely. Do they look nice and thin and clean and crisp? Do they look like they have bled, like holding a marker on paper too long? Does the skin look beat-up and red and bleeding? Look at the detail in the pieces in the artist’s portfolio,” Slate.com suggests. “Minute details are the difference between someone who wants to get you in and out of the seat for money and someone whose focus is solely making a great tattoo.”
It’s also helpful to keep an eye out for saturation, as well as the boldness of the colors. It’s difficult to achieve solid colors. A less talented artist will beat up the skin and leave areas of blood and/or light coloration. Only the best artists can create an even hue.
Meet in Person
There’s something to be said for meeting a tattoo artist in person. Even if you’ve reviewed their work online and sent over a design via email, it’s wise to sit down and spend a few minutes with the artist.
When you meet with an artist face-to-face, you can listen to how they talk. This will tell you if they truly understand their craft, or if they’re just blowing smoke.
You can also learn a lot by how they treat you. Are they frustrated by the fact that you want to meet them? Or are they willing to sit down and answer all of your questions? Someone who loves designing great art will be more than happy to discuss your tattoo with you ahead of time.
Trust Your Gut
At the end of the day, you’re the one getting the tattoo. No matter how much anyone else raves about a particular artist, you have to trust your gut. Do you want this person giving you a tattoo, or would you prefer to keep looking around? It’s completely up to you.
Don’t Rush the Process
There’s no sense in speeding up the process and rushing into a partnership with the wrong tattoo artist. Take your time and wait until you can make a qualified decision on how to proceed. This is one area in life where patience is very much a virtue.
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