Picking a Tattoo Artist: Top Tips

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Tattoos can be such a taboo subject but on this blog we are lovers of tattoos. I have loved tattoos for years and couldn’t wait to get my first tattoo (which I got back in November 2017). I think they are so pretty, so cool and I love that they can tell a story.
I’ve been quite lucky growing up because the majority of my family members have tattoos, so it was never a taboo subject or frowned upon should I want one.
My family had all of their tattoos done in the same studio and so I was set on going to the same studio to carry on “tradition”. There aren’t many studios in my hometown that have been running for decades, except for the same studio my family had gone to.
I was 100% set on what I wanted my first tattoo to be but I sat on the design for a good 10-12 months. As much as I loved the design and the meaning behind it, I still wanted to be sure I would love it forever.
I had done some research into the rough cost of what I might expect my tattoo to cost but it was way lower than what I’d been quoted. I originally wanted a tiger head, with a crown and roses below the tiger on the front of my thigh, but I wasn’t willing to pay £900 for it. I knew that was too expensive.
As soon as I left the studio I was hunting for a tattoo artist whose work I loved and wanted to create my tattoo. I was willing to travel for my tattoo so I wasn’t too fussed about the distance, as long as it covered an hour radius. That’s when my friend recommended looking at an artist in the town next to mine.
To cut a long story short, I absolutely loved my tattoo artist and my tattoo and am still in love with it today. And I’ve had another tattoo done in the same studio recently (but by a different artist.) This tattoo has now healed and I’m totally obsessed with it and it’s turned out better than I hoped it would be!
With that in mind, I thought I’d recap and share some of my top tips in picking a tattoo artist:
Decide which style of tattoo you want and find an artist who specialises in that style or can do that style. You don’t want to pick a tattoo artist who doesn’t specialise in the style you like, because you’ll either be turned away or if they don’t really care about their art and are just in it for the money then they’ll tattoo you but it won’t be to it’s full potential or to your liking.
Drop them a message or arrange an appointment to pop into the studio to discuss your tattoo idea/design. I recommend this because you can tell if you’re going to like somebody by their presence and the way they talk to you. Friendliness is key because you want them to be approachable and to feel comfortable around them. Feeling comfortable is so important because you want to enjoy the experience and not feel worried throughout the process. You need to put your full trust in them and meeting them beforehand will confirm if you like them and feel comfortable with them tattooing you.
Don’t settle for an idea if you don’t feel comfortable. Ultimately, a tattoo artist’s job is to bring your idea to life – not to tell you what to get. If they don’t seem to like your idea and want to change it in ways you aren’t happy with, go to a different artist. A tattooist should only change your idea for a couple of reasons. One would be the size of the tattoo; if you wanted a big piece but only have a small arm, they would recommend sizing down to keep the detail or the design so it isn’t stretched or distorted. And two, the placement of the tattoo; my shin/foot tattoo for example… I wanted my tattoo to cover half my foot and move up to my shin. Due to my foot bone being a weird shape, the tattoo wouldn’t sit right and so it might not look as good as I want it to, so I was recommended to move the placement up so it would be smooth and even (which I’m so happy I did.)
Is the studio they work in hygienic? This might seem like a silly one but trust me, it is so important! Getting a tattoo means your skin is open to dirt, dust and infection because it is an open wound. Some people bleed during a tattoo so you don’t want the studio to feel dirty because chances are it is dirty and horrible and you might catch an infection. After each person, a tattooist will disinfect and clean their station to keep it clean. So if the studio smells clean and your artist’s station is tidy, clean and wrapped in cling film then you’ll be fine.
And finally, is the price reasonable? As I mentioned earlier, my original artist I had in mind for my tattoo was going to charge me £900, whereas my artist who did my thigh tattoo only charged me £250. In some cases it is true that you’re paying for quality and some people probably would go with the higher priced artist because they’ll automatically think they’re better. When in reality it’s a complete rip off and the artist who is charging less is a better tattooist (in my opinion.)
I will leave the instagram pages to my two artists below if you’re in the Bedfordshire or Hertfordshire area and are looking for a local tattooist:
Tiger head thigh tattoo – Jimmy at Panic Ink
Mandala foot/shin tattoo – Sonwaa at Panic Ink

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