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How to Find the Tattoo Artist for You

There’s a lot to take into consideration when you find tattoo artist who is right for you. It’s likely that you’ve spent months or maybe even years determining which tattoo design is right for you, so it’s important to make sure you are in the hands of a trusted, talented professional. Safety and expertise are key, and in order to find the right tattoo artist qualified for the job, you’ll want to do your homework and take advantage of the steps outlined below.

Step 1: Research, Research, Research

It’s a bit of a no-brainer that you’ll want to do your research before you get started. Don’t rush or be hasty in your decision-making; after all, you’re getting a tattoo because you want it to stick with you for life.

After determining the design of your tattoo, you can begin your search online by researching local tattoo shops and studios. Or, if you have friends with tattoos, pick their brains and ask them about their experiences. If they refer you to a specific studio or artist, check to see if they have a website with samples of their work. Many tattoo artists offer peaks into their portfolios online, so you have the opportunity to view their work before visiting in person.

If you’re looking at a particular studio, go through each tattoo artists’ portfolio and make note of the differences in the work you see. Is there are a particular artist’s work that you are drawn to? Are different styles represented? Which artists’ work seems most similar to your own design? It can be helpful to jot down your thoughts or questions when doing your research, so make sure you have a pen and paper handy. When you visit the studio in person, you’ll want to remember what you had in mind when you were initially reviewing the artists’ work, so your own notes are your best frame of reference.

Step 2. Assess the Situation

When it’s time to visit the studio in person, make sure you call ahead to see if they can accommodate drop-in’s. This is different from a consultation, but just as important. It is absolutely vital that you visit the studio before you make any major decisions about moving forward in order to get a feel for the environment. If you can, take a friend so you can get their feedback afterwards and compare mental notes.

When visiting the studio, there are many factors to take into consideration. Were you greeted when you entered? Did anyone ask if they could help you? Though these may sound like trivial details, customer service is crucial when determining the right tattoo artist for you. You want to be comfortable in the hands of someone who takes in an interest and cares about your concerns. If you can’t even get a greeting from them, it might be a good indicator that you’re in the wrong place.

You’ll also want to assess the cleanliness of the establishment. It is critical that the studio is reputable and abides by proper sterilization techniques and that all artists are licensed. Beware of “scratcher” tattoo artists, who are often aesthetically talented in their work but lack proper training. Though you are seeking the work of an artist, you need a professional with the precision of a surgeon.

Lastly, request to see portfolios of the artists. Mention the design you have in mind and ask if there is anyone who would be best suited to that style. If so, you’ll want to set up a consultation with that artist where you can get a better feel for their personality and their work. It is important to distinguish if you have a clear-cut design in mind or if you are open to the artist’s interpretation. You’ll want to find someone that can meet your needs, so come prepared with a list of questions.

Step 3. Cost Analysis

Getting a tattoo isn’t cheap, nor should it be. If it is cheap, you likely got what you paid for and may want to consider getting it removed in the future. If you want a quality tattoo, you’ll have to pay for quality work. For a custom tattoo, artists typically charge by the hour, and rates can vary depending on the skill and craftsmanship of the artist. Many artists set their own prices. You can expect to pay anywhere between $50 – $300 an hour, depending the size and intricacy of your design. If you aren’t ready to pay that much for a tattoo, you may not be ready for the commitment, so take your time and save up.

During your consultation, ask your artist what they typically charge, and if they can quote you based on what you have in mind. Just because you’ve visited one studio does not mean you have to commit to it. Shop around and visit other artists and studios and then do a cost analysis to see which is the best fit for you.

A tattoo is a work of art, and it’s important to take the time and consideration needed to find the right artist for you. What advice do you have for finding a tattoo artist? Share your feedback in the comments section below!