When it comes to tattoos, everyone is hoping for the perfect execution. The client wants a beautiful piece of work that will last a lifetime. The artist wants the skill and talent to show through.
In order to create the perfect tattoo, keep these six steps in mind…
#1: Really Listen to the Client
Whether he or she is looking for a reproduction of a piece of flash or wants something completely original, it is important to hear what is being said. Getting the design to fit the customer’s vision while representing you as an artist takes some serious skill, but in doing so, you are already on the road to the best possible tattoo. There’s a reason that tattoo artists spend so much time practicing their drawing and shading skills. By putting the design on paper first, you can ensure that everyone has the same vision in mind.
#2: Pay Attention to Placement
It’s really common for a customer to have a pretty good idea of the design he or she wants, and it seems they almost always have a specific place they want it. As the professional, you need to be able to look at the design and the desired location and determine if it’s a good fit. In some cases, creating a better fit can be as simple as scaling the design up or down in size. In others, though, you may need to make the client aware that the design really doesn’t work. Show them how it will appear warped from a different angle, how it interacts with other tattoos already received, etc. In the end, if you are able to advise the client for a better fit, it will reflect well on you and make for a far better piece of art.
#3: Consider Techniques in Advance
Sure, you will have to make some decisions on the fly when you’re inking someone, but having a game plan in advance gives you the opportunity to really think through the best approach. For example, you may determine that you’d like to create some bloodlines in order to develop some nice boundaries for color without having to outline them completely in black. If you were simply sitting down and doing the tattoo without having thought it through in advance, you may have overlooked the possibility of improving the design by using this technique.
#4: Know your Equipment
From the tattoo machine to the pigments and beyond, being experienced and comfortable with your equipment and tools of the trade is incredibly important for the overall quality of the work you will produce. Of course, you will want to try out other machines and to experiment with new inks, but keep in mind that you want to have a good feel for your favorites. Each will have its own qualities and quirks, so using those that you know well means that you will have much more control over the finished product.
#5: Be Realistic
A good tattoo artist needs to be aware of his or her limitations and to accept them. That’s not to say that you don’t want to keep practicing and learning new techniques, but biting off more than you can chew is not going to result in the quality of tattoo that you want to represent your work. In addition to not choosing to do tattoos that are beyond your skill level, it’s also good practice not to choose to do a design that you object to for some reason. Again, you would not want it out there representing who you are and what you do. Additionally, you may inadvertently not do your best work because you don’t actually like the design.
#6: Educate Clients About Aftercare
Most tattoo shops will have a standard “aftercare sheet” with a list of “DO’s and DON’Ts” when it comes to caring for their tattoos in those first few days and weeks. No matter how much work the tattoo artist puts into the design, it’s just not going to hold up if the client doesn’t follow through on his or her end. In addition to simply handing the clients a sheet of instructions, take time during the tattoo process to talk about how tattoo ink works and to let them know what they can do to protect the color (staying out of the sun, not submerging in water, avoiding picking the scabs, etc.). When this conversation happens during the tattoo process, the client sees it as valuable insight coming from a professional, rather than just being instructions on a handout that can be ignored.