How to Properly Research the Tattoo Artist for You

Finding a tattoo artist can be a daunting task, especially if you’re looking for a unique tattoo, no matter how small or large. Remember that you do not have to get a tattoo from the first artist you meet. It is okay, in fact it’s highly encouraged, for you to stop by different shops and talk to different artists.

While most tattoo artists can ‘do everything,’ including those Pinterest print outs you thought they wouldn’t recognize, tattoo artists do have specialities. Specific styles and techniques that they put their heart and passion into, and dedicate time, money, and energy to master. You have to find an artist that specializes in the kind of artwork that you’re looking for.

A few tips:

  • Ask Around
    • This does not mean walk up to the first person you see with a tattoo. It means use common sense, and read social cues. Remember you’re talking to a human, not a walking billboard. Be respectful.
  • Look Up Local Tattoo Artists
    • See if they’re on social media channels showcasing their work. Scroll around and see what their styles are, what you like/don’t like. Read through reviews if there are any.
    • (Don’t be afraid to widen the distance you’re willing to travel. People travel all over the world to see renowned or award winning tattoo artists.)
  • Go to Different Shops
    • Look around to see that the shop is clean and organized. Go through portfolio books, and talk to the staff (not while they’re tattooing, of course!).
    • Check out the shop on social media, too. Many have channels or pages just for the shop and will have reviews you can read.
  • Talk to the Artist (Make an Appointment)
    • Tattoo artists have answered your dumbest questions at least a few thousand times already, we promise you. And yes, it is okay to ask it a thousand and one more time. They would rather you ask and get the right answer, than get the wrong answer from your buddy who can do a sleeve for $20 in his kitchen with a machine he made himself.
  • Make Sure Your Personalities Don’t Clash
    • Depending on your tattoo and the number of hours or sessions you’ll need, it’s possible you could be spending more than 8 hours with the artist. Make sure you, and more importantly the artist,  won’t be miserable.
  • Clearly Communicate What You’re Looking For
    • They cannot create the right tattoo if you don’t tell them what you want.
  • Remember That It Is Okay Not to Go to the First Shop or First Artist You See
    • Do not ‘settle’ when it comes to choosing a tattoo artist, but also don’t be rude. This is not only a permanent piece on your body, but it is artwork done in real time by a human being.
  • Know That It’s Possible the Artist Will Tell You ‘No’
    • Most reputable artists do have your best interests in mind. Meaning, for example, if you’re asking for something extremely unique, and they know a better artist, they’ll let you know. They also will give feedback in regards to placement, color, style, size, and more.
  • Ask Their Prices.
    • This is not, ‘tell them what your budget is.’ Ask for prices, and then figure out if you can afford that or not. If not, wait until you can.

Remember this tattoo is going to be on YOU for the rest of YOUR life, so it’s important to like, trust, and respect the person tattooing you.

Written by: Krystal Blais, follow her on Twitter to view more of her work.