If you’re anything like me, then you had a tough time deciding where you wanted to go to get that first tattoo. Or, if we have even more in common (Hey lets be pals!), you haven’t used the same artist for all your separate tattoos. Now whether you’re just starting out, or your preferred artist has straight up vanished, there’s no need to fret! Choosing the right tattoo artist is not as daunting of a process as it seems, and hopefully I can break it down and help simplify it for you.
Unfortunately, tattooing doesn’t agree with some people’s skin. If you have a skin condition, or just have extremely sensitive skin, it would be wise to consult your doctor to get his/her opinion on whether or not the process would exacerbate it. According to Dr. Sandra Marchese Johnson, a Dermatologist with Johnson Dermatology in Fort Smith, Arkansas; those with skin conditions such as psoriasis should avoid tattoos, as they may have flare-ups on or around the area of the tattoo. In general, everyone should take the risk of having a reaction to the tattoo ink into consideration before committing to a tattoo. OK, now that the little disclaimer is out of the way we can get to the meat of it. However…
There’s no Rush
First off, an important thing to make clear is that this isn’t something to rush in to. You have to be reasonably sure about your decision before committing fully. Choosing the right tattoo artist is arguably the most important part of the whole process, and it should be done carefully. As clichéd as it sounds, this is a permanent decision that should not be taken lightly. Ask anyone who has a tattoo that they regret what they would have done differently, and they’re more than likely to say that they wish they had thought it through more. Remember, your tattoos are the only thing you get to take to the grave with you, and you want to be sure you’ll love them right up until the point you get put in it.
Word of mouth is as sure of a way to find a good artist as anything. If you know someone that has already been to them and had some work done, you can take a look and see the caliber of their art and get an idea of the rates you should expect. Having someone willing to vouch for them definitely takes a lot of the guesswork out of it, as tattoo fans are often very opinionated about their artist and style, and will most likely have quite a bit to say on the subject. Tattoo artists are always happy to have people recommended to them by other clients, as this validates the quality of their work and gives them a well deserved sense of pride. The opinions of your friends are an invaluable resource in that respect, especially if they have had a negative experience. Knowing which places to avoid is just as important as knowing which ones to go to, as anyone who has ever gotten a bad tattoo will be quick to tell you. However, maybe you don’t know anyone that has tattoos or want to make this decision for yourself. Well in that case, you’re going to need to do some groundwork.
Visit several studios and talk to the artists; any tattooist worth his ink is going to be happy to show you some examples of his work, and won’t take it personally if you’re not ready to make your decision right away. Each artist is going to have their own particular style that they favor, so scrutinize their work carefully to make sure they’ll be able to create the kind of tattoo that you are looking for. If you can, see if they’ll let you observe one of their clients getting tattooed for a while. It will be a valuable experience not only because you’ll be able to get an idea of what the process is like and how the artist conducts himself, but also you’ll be able to make sure that they are following all the standard safety procedures (The artist is wearing gloves, the needles are coming out of an unopened blister package, they have their certification posted etc) and get a taste of the kind of atmosphere in the shop. You’ll want to find a place where the artists are friendly and avoid any uncomfortable environments. After all, any artist can just take your money, but the best ones are truly invested in the art they create and want to be sure that you’re completely satisfied with it. After you’ve gone around to a couple different studios and weighed your options carefully, you should be able to make a very well informed choice of the right tattoo artist for you.