When you are looking to get your first tattoo, it’s likely you will have a lot of questions. Even if you’ve already got some tattoos, you may still be unsure of how to find the perfect artist for you. We’re here to answer your queries and calm your nerves about the process. Here is our guide to choosing a tattoo artist and the booking process:
WHAT SORT OF DESIGN DO YOU WANT
First things first, know what it is you are wanting to get done. If you are wanting a custom design keep that in mind when searching for an artist. If you are just wanting to get a tattoo, looking for pre-drawn designs (known as flash) can be a great way to start.
A lot of artists nowadays will share their flash on Instagram, so have a look for an ‘available flash’ post. If you see something you like in someone’s flash, then consider them as an artist to go to.
One thing to keep in mind though is whether or not the flash can be tattooed more than once. If you want a one-off, unique piece, a custom design could be the way to go, as artists sometimes tattoo flash designs many times. You can always check this with them though, they won’t bite.
WHAT STYLE ARE YOU LOOKING FOR
Possibly the most important thing when considering which artist to go to for your next tattoo, is deciding which style you are going for. Use the internet to figure out which style you are into; hashtags like #traditionaltattoo #realismtattoo can direct you towards a label for the style you want.
Artists generally have a style that they prefer to work in. Some artists work in a variety of styles, but most stick to one or two.
Oftentimes, if you request a piece from an artist who doesn’t work in that style they may direct you to someone better suited. But, it’s really your responsibility to find a suitable artist who can execute the piece well. Want a highly detailed portrait of your firstborn? Look for someone who is skilled in that style.
HOW TO KNOW IF AN ARTIST IS GOOD
This might seem intuitive, but vetting an artist is important. Take a look through their portfolio: are their lines solid and straight? Is their shading good? Is their work consistent across the board?
Word of mouth is oftentimes how people get recommended as artists, but that doesn’t mean they will be the best fit for your tattoo. Make sure you look for yourself to make sure you are happy with the quality of work and their capabilities as an artist. What one person might be happy paying for, you might not be.
This may be slightly harder, but having a look at the studio they work from is also a good idea. There will usually be a social media page for the studio itself, so have a look to see if it looks like a clean and welcoming environment. If you are happy with the look of the place and the artist, you can go ahead and book in.
HOW TO BOOK A TATTOO
If you’ve never booked in before, it’s a simple process. Your chosen artist will usually have their preferred method of contact in their bio, ie. “bookings through email only”. You usually can’t work around your schedule; artists are busy people and it’s their time you are asking for.
Ask them following:
- Their availability
- What it is you would like to get done (Include in the email)
- Include an estimate of size
- Where on your body you would like the piece
- Whether or not you would like it in colour
If they do not have one style that they work in, include the style you would like. Giving your artist as much information as possible helps them decide if they are the right person for the task, and prevents them having to go back and forth with emails trying to work out what you want.
Price varies from artist to artist; some people have an hourly rate, some don’t. It is acceptable to politely ask for an estimated quote in your email, so you know how much you should bring with you (most artists take cash only).
Once your appointment is booked, you're all set. If you want to know how to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the session, read our tattoo preparation guide here.
Make sure you bring ID with you as well, to prove that you are of a legal age to get tattooed in whatever country you are in.
IS MY TATTOO GOING TO HURT?
Most likely, yes.
Some body parts reportedly hurt more than others. For example: feet, ribs and stomach tattoos all have a reputation of being quite painful. But, we all have different pain thresholds, and what is more sensitive for one person will be different for another. Tattoos hurt, but they are definitely worth it.