Guide To Getting Tattooed: Always bring A Reference

Guide To Getting Tattooed: Always bring A Reference

So you've decided to get a new tattoo. Awesome. Maybe it's your first or you've had a couple, and are keen on checking out a brand new shop.
Things can get a little nerve-wracking, meeting someone new, trying to get on the same page, wanting everything to be perfect, trust me I understand. I'm here to help, and this one piece of advice will be the golden ticket to the tattoo factory.
Come prepared.
Figure out at least the subject matter of your tattoo. If you walk into a reputable, successful custom shop, without a clue or a reference, the chance of anyone taking your "I don't know, just a tattoo" request seriously is slim to none.  Artists are usually more than happy to work with your ideas, planning them out in a way that will work beautifully on your skin, but they need material to work with. Bring a photo reference. You don't need an absolutely exact image, but let's say you want a rose tattoo for example... You could bring in 5 examples of different roses. I like the petals on this one, the leaves on that, the color of the third and so on. It helps everybody get on the same page. Don’t assume the person behind the desk is there to pick your brain. Manage your expectations. If you don't knowwe don't know either. You may have this great idea in your head, but without a photo we can't see what you see. The more clearly you can describe what you want with photo reference, the faster your artist be able to come up with a drawing for you. It may seem quite obvious, but there are many variations of even the most simple design.
Let's take a skull for instance.
It may be just a "simple skull" to you but there is a few things an artist will need to know about your "simple skull" because a "freestyle" skull to an average client will be drawn 10 times before it's just right...and ain't nobody got time for that.
Below are a few different styles of skulls, with the correct verbiage, in case you don't understand why "I just want a skull" is not really enough to go on.
Full Color Neo Traditional
Front facing, Black & Grey Skull with Dagger - Zac Sheinbaum
New School - Tim Kern
Full color, Tibetan skull - Yoni Zilber
"But I've looked and I can't find what I'm looking for" - Stop right here!
Today, I was reflecting on a client that came in asking for a tattoo, without any frame of reference. Our conversation went something like this. I would like to get a tattoo today.
Me: Sure thing. What kind of tattoo would you like to get?
I don't know, something feminine organic and simple.
Me: Do you have a photo reference?
"I don't. I see it in my head but that's it. Can't they just draw me something?"
I thought about how this exchange would have gone in a Restaurant.
Can I take your order?
"I want Dinner"
What kind of dinner?
"I don't know, just a simple dinner."
You'll need to choose something from the menu "I can taste it in my head but I can't describe it, can you just put an order in?"
Catch my drift? You don't want to be that guy.  Come prepared. I promise it will make a better experience for all parties involved.
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