When it comes to getting a tattoo you aren’t short of options. There are different ways of being tattooed, different styles, colours, designs and of course a vast abundance of artists to choose from. Finding the right artist for what you want is one of the most important things you could consider for a tattoo.
There are those who insist that a tattoo should have a special meaning to you personally; and of course in a way this does make sense, because if it has some important meaning in your life then you’re much less likely to ever regret having gotten the tattoo. However – they don’t need a meaning; if you want to get a big tribal tiger on your back you don’t have to make up some story about how it has some deep, personal meaning in your life in order to justify to the artist why he should give you that tattoo. He probably doesn’t care, it’s your body and your choice.
There are times when an artist might turn you away, but in most cases that’s because the idea you came forward with is quite simply terrible. Not even just that it doesn’t have meaning, but that its offensive to people or plain stupid and your artist doesn’t want to be the one taking the blame when you suddenly can’t get a job because of your ‘rad new ink’.
So – what should you be taking into account when you do want to get a tattoo?
First – Why do you want the tattoo?
It’s fine if you want it because you think it’s cool, or you think it will make you feel more beautiful. But; if you’re getting a tattoo of your partner’s name because you really love them right now, or you’re getting a tattoo because all of your friends are then you might want to reconsider. As sad as it is most relationships don’t last, and in general the tattoos people get as part of a teenage-boy dare just turn out stupid anyway. If you’re getting a tattoo it should be something you want and something you’re sure you’re going to want on your skin for the rest of your life.
Second – Where do you want the tattoo?
In a lot of cases, even before you know what you want, you should have an idea of where you want it. Sounds strange I know – but the space you have to work with and the location can have a big impact on the design itself, so it does make an excellent starting point. Take into consideration your pain tolerance; some places are much harder to get tattooed than others for this reason alone. The ribs, feet, hands, neck, head and spine are generally considered among the most painful, but everyone tends to experience pain a little differently, so consider your personal pain tolerance. Additionally you should take into consideration your job; there may be repercussions to the sudden appearance of a visible tattoo. Even if you work in a tattoo friendly environment you should consider whether or not you might want to move your career to a less tattoo friendly office in the future.
Three – What do you want?
As tempting as it might be to be cool and get some huge, offensive bit of work across your body – don’t. You aren’t going to impress anyone with that, and you’ll probably struggle to find an artist willing to do that. Start by considering the space available and the location, look around at tattoos and pick out some things you like. Don’t copy them, because most good artists don’t like to do that and you won’t end up with something unique to you; if you’re just going to do something that a hundred people have already done you might as well just look at your artist’s flash collection. However, if you want a unique, custom design you can put together some images and designs that you like, settling on a general theme or idea, and discuss it with your artist – a good artist will often come up with an idea hundreds of times more awesome than anything you had even considered.
Four – Who’s your artist going to be?
If your answer is “Such-and-such got a gun off eBay and is gonna do it for me, cos he wants to practice before going pro and is really good,” then getting a tattoo is not for you. Stop reading now and go make some new friends, because that is a ‘scratcher’ and one of the best ways to get yourself some horrible infection and a rubbish tattoo.
Not sure which artist to choose? I can understand that; there are just so many fantastic artists out there, it would be amazing if we could have work from all of them – but there’s simply not enough skin on the body. Forums, Google, Tattoo Blogs and Facebook will generally help you to find some amazing artists; you’re certain to find someone you’ll love within a reasonable distance from you. When you’re selecting the right artist for your needs you should look closely at the styles they tattoo in most, the subjects they use most, and the general theme of their work. Some artists thrive with more gruesome looking black and white work, while others specialise in vibrant, colourful watercolour style pieces. You should find an artist that works well with the style or subject you’re looking for from your tattoo.