How to Tattoo: The Important Decisions you need to make before getting a real tattoo

Tattoos have been around for centuries and have been rapidly growing in popularity over the past few decades.  It used to be the sole property of “free spirited” people, bikers and gang members but these days it seems that everyone is seeking to get one.  Finding out how to tattoo is always the biggest question.  There are ways to do it at home, but most choose a professional tattoo studio.  There are certain important factors to consider in finding the right place to go and the right tattoo artist to mark your body forever.

Finding Your Studio:

A good tattoo studio will always take the time to answer any of your questions.  Schedule a free consultation with an artist and have them provide or point you in the direction of any tattoo information you need.  They should be willing to show you the process their studio has in how to tattoo their clients.  At any time if you feel the studio is not being upfront with any information or are unable to answer your questions, go to another one.

The modern tattoo studio and working environment should be held to the same levels of cleanliness and hygiene as any doctor’s office.  So when you go in for your consultation with the artist, make sure to look at their equipment.  Today there are numerous courses in sterilization, studio maintenance and first aid. Quality studios will promote these kinds of certificates and training for all employees.

The other biggest question when finding out how to tattoo is definitely cost.  Single tattoo pieces are not comparable on a purely financial scale.  If you do not want to pay for quality do not get a tattoo. You are deciding on something you will have on your body and display for the rest of your life.  This is definitely the last place you want to haggle for a cheaper price.  Although there is not a 100% positive correlation between the price and quality of the artwork, the two usually do match up.  So if you think you’ve found someone that is offering a great deal below the average price, the quality of the tattoo is highly likely to be below market standard.

Finding Your Artist:

Tattooing is an art form that has traditionally been passed down from a master to their apprentice.  Before making any decisions, always take extra time in researching studios and especially artists.  Like any other industry, remember that there are reputable studios and ones that you should make sure to stay well away from.  You should find a skilled artist with a style that speaks to you.  It is important to know that they know the proper and safe steps of how to tattoo and how to do it well.  There is often an excitement that accompanies the prospect of getting a tattoo right away.  Instead of making any quick decisions, try and transfer that energy into the design itself.  You want quality to come before speed.

No matter your level of experience, bad tattoos are easy to spot.  Make sure to take the time to go over the artist’s portfolio.  Most artist’s portfolios should be readily available online or directly at their studio.  There are basics you should look for in their work.  Any lines of the tattoo design should be straight and clean.  Everything should also be in proportion to the natural bodily contours and curves.  They have to be accounted for in tattooing for two different reasons.  The first being where the tattoo is placed on the body and the tattooed image or design itself.  Also look for any possible anatomical anomalies, such as if a bird’s wing is in the right place or if a hand looks like a hand.  

If you are looking to get a portrait tattoo, it is crucial to research artists.  They are also sometimes easier for most people to critique when gauging the quality of a tattoo as the human mind is predisposed to recognize human faces.  One can usually tell quite quickly if something about a human face is not done right.  The shading should be smooth and good artists can create a range of tones using just black ink.  This is the smooth shading depth and effect found in gray-scale works. And the list goes on.  Finding an artist that knows how to tattoo portraits can be difficult, but with enough research, you’ll find one that suits your needs.

Also look at the complexity and positioning of colors.  Good artists, if they know how to tattoo with color, can create an amazing array of complex colors. There are various shading and alignment techniques that artists will use, but look for pieces that don’t simply have large areas filled in with solid block colors.  Good work will retain the same shape and flow you find in any other artwork.  Common sense goes a long way.

When you are creating your tattoo, a good artist will sit down and discuss all of the options with you.  What the design is going to be, how large, and where it would look best on you.  You will need to bring some information to the table.  Look for or create a design that you personally find beautiful, appealing, powerful or inspirational.  What do you want to be reminded of or carry with you the rest of your life?  Your artist can guide and advise you for the style and direction and how to tattoo your design the best way, but in the end you are the only person that knows your preferences.  No matter what their skill level, no artist can tell you what you think looks good

~ Anie Dee is a professional glitter tattoo artist at GlitZGlam Body Art


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