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Tattoos 101 > View Lessons

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Getting a Tattoo...

...But Were Afraid to Ask!

by AdamSkyArtist

January 17, 2012

Continued from page 2…

tattoo is much like healing a bad sunburn, with your skin getting very dry, cracking and a little peeling will occur.

It's important to listen carefully to your tattooist's healing instructions. Your tattoo artist will most likely give you written aftercare instructions for later reference. If you have any questions or concerns about your healing tattoo, your artist will appreciate if you call him for advice, instead of listening to hearsay and misinformation from your friends.

After a couple of weeks, it's safe to assume that your tattoo is totally healed. It should feel like normal skin, with no tenderness or irritation. To protect your tattoo's colors, it's smart to apply sunscreen whenever exposing your tattoo to harsh sunlight. If your tattoo's color looks faded, it's not uncommon to go back to your artist for a touch up. Touch ups are sometimes free of charge but sometimes your artist will ask to be financially compensated for going back into the tattoo. It's a good idea to ask your tattooist about his touch up policy before getting tattooed.

How do I find a tattoo artist that's right for me?

All tattoo artists are not created equally. Simply walking into your local tattoo parlor and putting trust in which ever artist happens to be available that day will not guarantee that you'll get a good tattoo. You must spend some time doing your legwork and getting recommendations. You can begin with asking your friends or people you meet on the street that have nice tattoos and ask about who they get their 'work' from. You'll probably find that if you ask around enough, certain key names of local tattooers will keep coming up in conversation.

A typical tattoo setup, with sterilized tools in sealed pouches.Most tattoo shops have web sites with their artist's work available for display, so take some time to browse artist's work online and compare quality of work. When you find an artist whose work really knocks your socks off, then you can enquire about booking a consultation to get your tattoo started.

Don't be surprised if the tattoo artist you've chosen has a waiting list. Good tattoo artists are always in demand and it's not uncommon to have to wait a few weeks to get in with a tattooer who's really popular.

Some devoted tattoo collectors won't hesitate to travel to a tattoo artist who specializes in a specific style of tattoo art. Each tattoo artist is essentially that - an artist, and if you find a tattoo artist who makes tattoos like no one else, you might consider adding travel expenses to the cost of your tattoo. Considering that getting a tattoo is a lifelong commitment, a little extra time and expense in traveling should be considered an investment in getting some good ink.

An alternative to traveling to your favorite tattoo artist is to wait until a tattoo convention comes to your town. Tattoo conventions are now more popular than ever, with at least one convention happening somewhere around the world every weekend. Conventions are a great opportunity to get access to the talents of hundreds of international tattooers under one roof.

How do I pick the right design?

Finding the right design can be the most difficult process of getting a tattoo, especially when it's your first tattoo. The urge to get something really symbolic can be pretty overwhelming. Many first-timers make the mistake of over complicating the subject matter in an attempt to infer a world of meaning into one design. It's important to not overly complicate visual aspects of your tattoo. Pick a single theme for your piece, don't try to throw everything and the kitchen sink into one tattoo. At the end of the day, it's the esthetic qualities of the tattoo that will create the biggest impression, not the amount of symbolism it conveys.

That being said, it's time to do some research into your design. You can use the Web to look for art reference, such as our vast tattoo flash and photo galleries we have here on It's a good idea to download a few designs to bring to your tattoo artist. Your artist will want reference to work from, so even if you find several images with different elements in each image, you can use your reference to explain the look and feel of the tattoo you want so he can put it all together into one design.

Don't be intimidated from walking into a tattoo studio just to have a look around. Pretty much every tattoo shop has racks of tattoo flash and books of art reference and of course artist portfolios available for browsing. Going in to a shop for a scouting run is a great way to break the ice with a tattoo artist and it'll give you the opportunity to see if the both of you can communicate well enough to get something started.

You might find that your artist will be most exited at the idea of drawing up a custom design just for you. If you can communicate your ideas to your artist, you may want that artist to come up with a customized design. Many tattoo artists really enjoy creating custom designs for people because it gives them a chance to flex their artistic abilities.

No matter how you approach finding your design, be sure to listen to your artist when he offers you direction on how it will be best to execute your tattoo. If he has advice that's contrary to what you're requesting, it's because the tattooist has the experience to know what works as a tattoo and what won't. Remember that your tattoo artist has the final say on what he will and won't do for you. If you want the best possible outcome for you tattoo, be flexible when negotiating with the artist.

How much will it cost?

A tattoo artist will either charge you a flat rate or he'll charge you an hourly rate. You should ask for an estimate before you start. If the tattoo is simple and can be easily completed in a single session, it's likely the artist will charge you a flat rate and can quote you a final price before you begin. If the tattoo is large and complicated and requires multiple sittings, you'll most likely be asked to pay an hourly rate. (continued next page...)

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