Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Claim your ink


 I have probably discussed this topic in several different ways, but it bears repeating. I also recently did a tattoo consultation so it is fresh in my mind?

 Don’t know what a tattoo consultation is? You need a better tattooer.

 So, you are thinking about getting a tattoo, but you are not certain what you want. You have a concept, but that is about it. How does one get from a fuzzy idea in their head to the actual tattoo? Talking to a tattooer is a great start, but there is a lot you can do before you have that conversation.

 1. Determine what the tattoo means to you. If you want a military tattoo to honor a family member, you may want other items as filler related to that person. If a military tattoo is meant to be a reflection of your own service, then filler could be other aspects of that service. The meaning of the tattoo could take your concept in different directions.

 2. Once you have an idea, start looking for references. Collect images of things related to your concept, even if they are just things that could be part of your tattoo.

 3. Add to these concept references tattoo references; images of tattoos that you like. This serves two purposes; it will help to define the style of tattoo you want, and it will also indicate the limitations of tattoo design relative to your other reference material.

 What I mean by that is you will develop an understanding that the three-dimensional CGI image you have as a reference will look different when rendered as a tattoo. It may sound obvious, but people often seem to think anything can be rendered as a tattoo in the skin.

4. Identify your tattoo style. As you are collecting references of tattoos you like (related to your concept or not), a stylistic theme may emerge. You need not know that you are looking at American Traditional designs, but recognizing that you like this type of tattoo more than another, and being able to provide your tattooer examples, will help bring your design to life.

5. Determine where on your body you will get your tattoo. Location will impact both the size of the tattoo and how the design is organized. A design created for a forearm is often not the same as one created for a shoulder.

6. Be realistic about the limitations of the tattoo design and the style you want. More often than not, images rendered as a tattoo are simplified. Location on your body and size limitations also impact the amount of detail that can be reasonably included.
7. Be aware that you concept may be interpreted in multiple ways, and be prepared to allow the tattooer some creative input on the design. Your tattooer will have more experience with design as it is applied to tattoos; how certain elements should be arranged given the location of the tattoo and the style, what colors will work best and in what combinations, and so on.

8. The flipside of the same coin is being certain that the design is what you really want. If you feel pressured to depart from your ideas in a way that you do not like, or that the rendering is not living-up to your expectations, then don’t get the tattoo. The design should be something you are excited about getting, and your tattoo should be flexible enough to get it to where you want (within reason).

9. Decide if this will be your only tattoo for a while, or if it will be the first of many in the same location on your body. If your tattoo plan includes additional tattoo building on or being near the current tattoo, those future plans need to be taken into account in the design.


10. Be responsible for your tattoo and take your time. Do your research, look at portfolios, and talk to a number of tattooers. Ideally, you want an experienced tattooer who works in your chosen style and who is excited about the project. A tattoo is an investment, so take you time with it.

 Jason Sorrell is a writer, tattoo artist, satirist, artist, and generally nice guy living in Austin, TX.  He loves answering questions about tattoos.  Shoot him an email at tattoonerdz@gmail.com