The act of getting tattooed is about so much more than just the art you walk away with. It’s also about the memories of that day and the associations you make between your ink and the entire tattoo experience. When choosing a tattoo artist, it’s important to take several things into consideration, so that you are matched with someone who not only fits the style and aesthetic you are seeking, but also your personality and vibe. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start, so we came up with some tips and tricks to look for when you are on the quest for your next tattooed treasure.
- What’s type of style are you looking for? There are so many genres of tattooing nowadays and so many different types of tattoo artists with varying fortes. These might include realism, Japanese, blackwork, traditional, neo-traditional, watercolor, micro-tattoos, trash polka, fine line, illustrative, etc. Figure out which style you are seeking and narrow your search to tattoo artists who are excellent in that area.
- How far are you willing to travel? Are you looking for a tattooist who resides in your hometown or are you willing to travel to collect work from a certain artist? Knowing what your comfort level is and what your budget allows for will also help you to narrow things down.
- Where do you want the tattoo to reside on your skin? This can be an important aspect of choosing a tattoo artist because oftentimes artists have areas of the body that they prefer to tattoo– and also areas that they tend to avoid. Some tattoo artists only like to work on large-scale pieces, such as back pieces or arm/leg sleeves, while some prefer to do small tattoos or even micro tattoos. Scope out their existing portfolio to see if they tend to tattoo certain areas of the body. Oftentimes, artists will specify on their websites what they will (and won’t) tattoo.
- What is your budget? This is important to take into consideration because tattoo artists vary on their hourly rate, daily rate, and project rates. Know what you can spend, even if it means waiting longer to make an appointment with your dream tattooist while you save up for the big day.
- Research and learn: With so many incredible tattoo artists out there nowadays, it’s important to take the time to observe and study those who really pique your interest. If you have an Instagram account, utilize the hashtag feature to narrow down your search for the style and type of tattoo that you are seeking. On that same note, try out hashtags for specific areas and cities, as many tattoo artists use those to denote where their studios are located. It might also be helpful to follow “share pages” that showcase many different artists so you can get a more diverse array of work to consider.
- Ask around: If you see a rad tattoo on the arm of a fellow shopper at the grocery store, ask them about it and who did the work. If it’s possible to reach out to another collector on social media, that is oftentimes a great way to learn about what a collector’s experience was with a tattoo artist and if they would recommend them as a potential choice. Word of mouth can be particularly valuable when it comes to finding someone that you trust.
- Reach out to find out: Once you begin narrowing down your search, you can start reaching out to artists who you feel might be a great fit. Because artists have different ways of booking appointments, take the time to reach instructions on their social media pages or websites to see how they prefer to be contacted, what their waiting list time frame looks like, and what they require to claim a spot on their calendar. This stage of the process can also be a great way to decide if an artists’ personality fits your own.
- Be patient: Adding a tattoo to your collection is a big deal! You are going to wear that piece of art for the rest of your life, so take the time to find an artist who you really groove with. Sometimes that means waiting for their books to open. Sometimes that means saving up in order to pay their hourly wait. Sometimes that means waiting on just the perfect idea or design. Patience is a virtue when it comes to tattooing (and the right tattoo artist) and most tattoo collectors will tell you that the tattoo (from the artist of their dreams) was worth the wait!