I’d like to take a moment to break from our regularly scheduled program on this blog for a public service announcement.
I get a lot of questions about tattoos in real life and online. I think most people with lots of visible tattoos do. But, because I work as a graphic designer, I feel the need to explain to people looking to get their first what they should be looking for when they get one. This photo is a perfect example, so I thought I’d post here.
Look at your artist’s line work.
This is the easiest way to check their quality if you don’t know too much about art. Are their lines smooth and consistent? Or bulky and awkward?
- The Octopus uses highlights, dark colors, and little bits of black to give the illusion of line that goes with the style. Look at it’s brain to see what I’m talking about.
- Alice’s lines are awkward and misplaced. Look at the two sides of her hair (inconsistent) or her pockets (looks like a middle schooler drew them.)
Channel Paula Deene: we want butter.
Look at how colors meet together. Are they buttery smooth? Choppy? Or do they just not mix?
- The Octopus has colors that blend together so awesomely they look 3D. Plus, the orange/blue contrast is awesome.
- Alice’s apron is a damn mess. There’s no shading and those hands are already blowing out.
Does the artist have the style you’re looking for? Do you want something spooky or bright? Something girly or foreign? Or a combination? Check to make sure your artist’s style matches your own vision.
Of course this isn’t totally possible, but think about what else you could want on your body in the future. If you think you might ever be in the market for a back piece, don’t get something small in the middle of your spine. And remember: your relationship with tattoos will change, just like everything else.
- Alice’s placement it look like she’s coming out of the tattooed’s boobs. Plus, without more stuff on the chest, you have the awkward dynamic of having a skinny, verticle shape on a large, horizontal canvas.
- The Octopus’s placement next to everything else looks awesome, even in relationship to Alice. It takes the shape of her body into account in every way!
- Bonus tip: try to only let one artist work on a certain part of your body. That way the styles don’t clash. (Even if Alice had been done correctly, this would still look a little unplanned.)
Don’t do a walk-in
Show up in a shop with an idea and you only get what that artist is capible of doing on the spot, sometimes without references. Bring in a bunch of images and have a talk with the artist—then, plan to come in a few weeks later. You’ll get their best work and more time to ask them to tweek it to perfection.
Is the shop clean and reputable?
Another reason to not do a walk-in appointment. Take a look around the shop while you’re there. If anything about it makes you uncomfortable, it’s not the place for you. Also check out their ratings online. The artist doesn’t have a shop? Or they’re working out of their house? Run. Run fast. That’s the best way to get an infection.
ABOVE ALL: A GOOD TATTOO AIN’T CHEAP AND A CHEAP TATTOO AIN’T GOOD.