Getting a Tattoo: First Steps

Image Is Everything

  1. You know you want to get a tattoo, you may even have a basic idea of what you like, now what?! We will start at the beginning and guide you through the process of turning an idea into a great tattoo you can live with.
  2. Start with an idea of what you want to get tattooed. It can be deeply meaningful or humorous, inspirational or memorial. But whatever it is, it’s yours forever. It should come from you. If you let someone else pick for you, even an “expert” tattooist, you might just end up with a really awesome unicorn riding a rainbow colored shark.
  3. Choose a place on your body for your new tattoo. Placement should take into consideration how the design is shaped, and what part of the body works best with that shape or flow. Do not pick based on perceived pain. Pain is temporary. Your artist will likely have input on placement if you are not certain.
  4. Your artist can draw something custom for your tattoo, but it is far easier if you lead them in the right direction by gathering some visual reference.
      • The best photo search sites to use are shutterstock, istockphoto, and flickr. They offer a diverse collection of images that can be used for reference.
      • Google allows everyone access to the same images. It’s fantastic if you want the Nike logo tattooed exactly as it is on their ad. It is not so helpful if you want an original birds coming from a feather tattoo. If unique is what you are aiming for then pick a handful of images and find a qualified artist who will craft them into something especially for you.
      • Photos of other tattoos are useful as reference only. It can point to a color palette, layout or style that you appreciate. Those tattoos on the Internet belong to another person and they represent another artist’s work in design. An ethical tattoo artist won’t copy someone else’s work. You wouldn’t want someone stealing your ideas, would you!?
      • “Death is in the details.” Unless you are super flexible and trusting about the finished tattoo, we will need to know everything before we spend hours drawing up something wrong. What angles do you like? What point of view is most pleasing to you? Is there background? Do you want color? Where will you be placing this tattoo? How large do you want it to be?

        Example: “I want a bee tattoo”

        What kind of bee? Is the bee flying through the air, perched on a honeycomb, or hovering over a flower? What kind of flower? How many bees? Are they realistic bees, cartoon style bees? Do you want color in your tattoo? Are there any specific colors you like or hate?

        Do you like the bee at this angle?

        ..But like this type of flower better?

    • Collect referrals from friends and family and look at portfolios to help decide which artist will be best for your tattoo. We have written an extensive article on how to judge portfolios that can help.

Choosing a Tattoo Artist: Portfolios

You are now ready to take your references to the studio and set up an appointment with the artist of choice.
Congratulations and Good Luck!