What to look for in a Tattoo Artist?
Though you can simply walk into a tattoo shop, choose a piece of flash and then take the first tattoo artist that who seems decent, a tattoo is a permanent addition to your body. Giving your choice of artist a little thought will help make sure that your tattoo will come out just the way you want it.
The best way to find an artist is by asking people who have tattoos that you like. Most everyone with a good tattoo is more then happy to recommend their favorite artist.
Visit tattoo studios and let them know that you are looking for a tattoo artist and describe your idea. The best studios will welcome you in with open arms, anticipating your business. When you meet the tattoo artist, he should be friendly and not intimidate you at all, nor should he at any time attempt to push a design on you.
If you have a sketch, photograph or other source material, bring it along. Do not be impressed by the flash on the wall. These illustrations are usually purchased from other artists and do not represent the work of artists in the studio. Frankly, anyone with some experience can easily trace the outlines of these illustrations and fill in the colors.
When looking into a tattoo artist be sure to see his “books”. Go to the counter and ask to see one. If they tell you they don’t have one, walk out immediately. You’re visiting the shop to commission a piece of art to be permanently illustrated on your skin; for the artist to tell you s/he doesn’t have samples in a portfolio is insulting. All decent tattoo artists will have one, if not several, books full of photos of his previous tattoo work. When you do look in their portfolio it should be filled with photos of real tattoos, not pages of illustrations on paper.
There are a few things to keep in mind as you go through the portfolio. Do you see any photos of pieces that you recognize in the flash (on the wall, or in a flash book)? If so, how is it rendered in tattoo format? Do you see anything in the portfolio that is not in the flash? These are the custom pieces that the artists have done, and they should be their crowning glory. How do they look? Do you like what you see?
If there is more than one artist working in the shop, and you see some photos you like, make sure to find out which artist did the work. Meet with tattoo artists whose work you admire and try to gather answers to the following question.
- What is their favorite style? If what “you” are looking to get done happens to be their specialty you are in luck;be it tribal, dragon or whatever.
- Is there any one particular subject they like to do? It could skulls, dragon, religious, etc.
- How long have they been at the tattoo studio? The shop may have been there for 20 years, but the artist may only have been there for a couple of months. If they have been there for what you consider a short period, ask them where they were before.
- How long have they been tattooing? It might not matter so much that the artist has only been there for a short while, if they’ve been tattooing for several years. They might come from various backgrounds.
This type of information will give you more insight into the artist’s attitude as well as aptitude.