How to Prepare Before Tattooing Your Client

As a tattoo artist, you can’t just show up to an appointment and “wing it.” To make sure you’re doing your best work, it’s important to prepare correctly for every tattoo.

If you’re not sure how to get ready for a tattoo appointment, you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll cover how to:

  • Collaborate on a design with your client
  • Talk about money and take a deposit
  • Take care of yourself so you can do your best work

One Week Before the Appointment

This is when you should have a consultation with your client. You can message them, talk on the phone, or they can come to the studio and talk in person. 

We recommend meeting in person if you can. It’s usually easier to clearly communicate with your client when you’re both there. It can be difficult to develop a design if you’re waiting for answers and ideas via text.

1

Talk About Their Design

During this consultation, you’ll ask them what design they want. You’ll get all the information you need to start drawing a design for them.

2

Give a Price Estimate

You’ll also talk about your price point. This will usually be a rough estimate at this point, but it should be accurate enough so that your client isn’t surprised by how much it’s going to cost right before their appointment. 

If you aren’t clear, it will be much more likely that a client will drop out at the last minute or be a no-show on the day of your appointment.

3

Take a Deposit

Before you start drawing, make sure you take a deposit. Deposits make sure you get paid for the time you spend drawing even if the client ends up being a no-show. 

The money they spend on a deposit will go toward the total price of the tattoo.

Week of the Appointment

A few days before the appointment, you’ll start drawing the design. 

Send a rough draft to the customer. This will let them know exactly what they’re going to get on the day of the tattoo. With a rough draft, they're going to be able to tell you what they do like and what they don't. It also prevents you from spending too much time perfecting a design only for them to say they want something different.

From that point on, you'll be able to make changes and create a final design.

Note:

Do not send a final design to your client. Unfortunately, some customers will take your design and go get it tattooed by another artist (usually for a cheaper price).

Night Before the Appointment

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Particularly at tattoo conventions, it’s expected that tattoo artists stay out late. However, tattooing when you’re tired - or even hungover - is never fun. 


Preparing for your appointment and getting a good night’s rest is the best way to make sure you’re ready for the next day.

Day of the Appointment

The day of your tattoo, you’ll want to make sure you are fully prepared and comfortable.

1

Clean Your Space

On the day you’ll be doing the tattoo, you want to get into the studio and make sure everything is safe for your appointment:

  • Clean and mop the floors
  • Sterilize your table
  • Sterilize your setup table
  • Sterilize your massage table
  • Wrap all your work surfaces

Note:

Make sure you clean your station the same way every time. When you get super busy, it will be very helpful for your cleaning routine to be easy muscle memory. This will prevent you from forgetting anything when you feel rushed or tired.

2

Eat and Drink

A lot of artists will forget to eat and drink throughout the day, especially when they have back-to-back appointments. 

It’s important to take care of your body while you’re tattooing so you can do your best work. If you’re too hungry, you’ll lose your mental clarity and make mistakes.

Note:

Some artists find that energy drinks and coffee can make them shaky while tattooing. While the effects of caffeine are different for everyone, it’s important to remember that too much can lead to mistakes in a tattoo. 

Become a Tattoo Artist With the Artist Accelerator Program

Having a career in tattooing is not only fulfilling, but it’s also the most stable way to make a living as an artist. However, for decades, the process to become a tattoo artist has been notoriously difficult. 

The apprenticeship process requires aspiring tattoo artists to work 50-60 hours a week without pay for 2-4 years. That, combined with the toxic culture of abusing apprentices, makes getting into the industry almost impossible for newcomers. 

That’s why we created the Artist Accelerator Program. Our online course provides a simple, structured way of learning to tattoo that has been proven to work by over 2500 successful students, with many of them having gone on to open their own shops all around the world. 

Inside the program, we’ll take you through every step of the tattooing process in 9 clear, easy-to-follow modules and support you along the way within the Tattooing 101 Mastermind online community.

In the Mastermind group, you’ll collaborate with other students, get answers to your questions, and receive personalized video feedback on your artwork and tattoos from professional tattoo artists. With this friendly community of both new and experienced tattoo artists, you’ll never be stuck again. 

When you join the Artist Accelerator Program, you’ll have instant access to the full course and the Mastermind community, as well as our 30-Day Flash Challenge and recorded interviews with tattoo artists from all over the world. 

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
AUTHOR
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain. When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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