Kansinee Tattooing Herself

How To Select A Tattoo Artist

Embarking on the journey to get a tattoo is an exciting adventure, a testament to your freedom of personal expression. As you navigate the world of tattoos and art, choosing the right tattoo artist for you becomes an art in itself. The importance of this decision cannot be overstated; your chosen artist will not only bring your vision to life but will also leave an indelible mark to be rejoiced across your future years. In this guide, we'll delve into the intricacies of selecting your tattoo artist – an individual who can seamlessly blend skill, creativity, and understanding to craft a masterpiece that aligns with you. Whether you're a first-time tattoo enthusiast or a seasoned ink connoisseur, join us on this exploration of "How To Select A Tattoo Artist," and empower yourself to make a choice that aligns with you.

Understand Your Tattoo Vision 

Planning for a tattoo is a thoughtful process that involves careful consideration and preparation to ensure you end up with a piece of art that you'll cherish over your years. Consider the following guidance in preparing for your tattoo voyage:

Define Your Purpose:

Determine the reason behind getting a tattoo. Whether it's self-expression, a significant life event, or purely aesthetic, understanding your motivation will guide the design and placement choices.

    Select Your Tattoo Style

    Tattooing is a diverse art form with various styles, each characterized by specific techniques, aesthetics, and cultural influences. We will be sharing a blog soon to discuss the many tattoo styles out there, so stay tuned!

    Choose a Meaningful Design:

    Select a design that holds significance to you in your own way. This could be a symbol, quote, or image that represents your values, experiences, or aspirations or it could be more simply something unexplainable by words (i.e. “I just like it” or “it makes me laugh and smile”). Find a design that resonates with you. 

    Consider Placement:

    Think about where on your body you want the tattoo. Consider factors like pain tolerance, visibility, integration with future tattoos, flow of your body, and how the tattoo will interact with your lifestyle and clothing choices. Furthermore, it's important to consider the amount of sun exposure your tattoo placement will receive, as prolonged sunlight may fade a tattoo faster. Another aspect to consider is the natural changes of your skin over time. Certain tattoo placements may better retain their shape and appearance as your skin changes. If maintaining the integrity of your tattoo's design is a priority for you, choosing a placement that accommodates these changes is advisable.

    At Discovery Ink & Art, we always want to make sure you are making a decision from a place of strength and alignment. If we get the sense you are deciding from a place of uncertainty or haste, we will do our best to work with you to ensure you are getting a piece that you will be happy with… go slow.

      Researching Tattoo Artists

      Utilize online platforms (e.g. search engine query) and visual-oriented social media platforms like Instagram to discover nearby artists. Once you have found a few artists that you’re interested in, and whose portfolio matches the tattoo style you’re seeking, start reading reviews on tattoo artist websites, search engines, and online forums like reddit. It is important to also seek recommendations from friends, family, and online communities and assess potential artists against real reviews and experiences as people are increasingly able to influence how they are seen online. Finally, you might consider visiting the tattoo shops of interest or meet tattoo artists at tattoo conventions and see their work up close.

      Assessing Artist Credentials and Reputation 

      It may be helpful to understand how long an artist has been tattooing, where they gained their experience (i.e. who they apprenticed with) and, if applicable, what kind of art they were engaged with prior to becoming a tattoo artist. This can be a helpful proxy for gauging their style and, importantly, their experience of working with skin. For example, Kansinee at Discovery Ink & Art started tattooing at age 13. Kansinee also worked as a graphite artist doing commissioned pieces for 6-years, so she has a unique perspective and experience when it comes to working in black and grey, as well as with lines and shading. Another potentially helpful tool is to evaluate the artist's reputation within the tattoo community. Seeking the opinion of other artists, perhaps those tattooing in a different style so they are less biased, may help you determine whether an artist is a good fit.

      Selecting A Style and Evaluating for Quality

        We’ve written a whole post on this topic. In short, it is important to analyze the variety and quality of previous work. In this, you may want to consider the artist’s attention to detail, the quality of their linework (look closely!), their use of negative space, and the depth of their shading. Note, it is often better to see healed tattoos rather than fresh ones as often quality only becomes discernible Tattoo weeks or months later. Ultimately, the most important thing to do is to ensure that the artist's style and portfolio aligns with your tattoo vision as this will make the experience the most rewarding for both you and the artist.

        Connect with the Artist

          Most tattoo artists have a process for connecting with them and for sharing your ideas. For example, at Discovery Ink & Art we use a tattoo booking request form. Typically, as is the case with us, you will submit your tattoo idea which includes reference photos, sizing, placement, and your availability. You may want to ask about the artist's process, timeline, pricing, or any other details you’d like to know during this initial connection. Then, it may be helpful to evaluate the artist's communication style and willingness to collaborate on your ideas. While we aim to respond to your inquiries within 48 hours, note that it is [unfortunately] not uncommon for artists to take a long time to get back to you. Lastly but importantly, consider giving the artist some creative freedom in the design process to help unlock their best quality of work.

          Considering the Tattoo Studio

            In evaluating whether a tattoo studio is a good fit for you, you may want to consider its aesthetic and ambiance. Are you looking for a calm and relaxed environment or would you prefer a metal, punk, or gothic style? Artist’s often curate their studios to match their styles, and you may want to consider how the studio’s aesthetic and ambiance may enhance or detract from your tattoo experience. For example, at Discovery Ink & Art we offer a non-judgemental, calm, relaxed, and private space. Furthermore, it is important to assess the cleanliness and professionalism of the studio by reading past reviews, exploring available photos online, or inquiring with peers; stop by for a brief visit if you remain uncertain. If concerns remain, explore the studio's compliance with health regulations by checking in with the local health authority. All tattoo studios should be inspected and approved prior to operation. Detailed listing of any health concerns should be made available to the public.

            Understanding the Cost

            Most tattoo artists, including us, price tattoos based on their size, depth of detail, the artist’s expertise and skill, use of high quality materials (to ensure safety and quality results), and the amount of time spent on consulting and designing. Artists will provide you with a quote once they have received your tattoo ideas and details. It is important to clarify the deposit amount and payment process. Some studios only accept certain kinds of payments, so you’ll want to be prepared on the day of your tattoo. Understand that tattoo artists request a deposit as they will be doing work to design your tattoo prior to your actual tattoo appointment. The deposit guards against time spent creating the design as well as work time lost due to cancellations.

            Lastly but importantly, it is prudent to balance cost considerations with quality. The adage, “you get what you pay for” certainly applies to tattoos, so be cautious of being overly frugal on something that is permanent on your body. That said, a higher price does not always equal a better-quality tattoo. The tattoo market can be skewed based on one’s ability to market themselves (i.e. the larger the following, the more demand, the higher the price commanded). This does not always correlate with quality, and so be sure to consider what makes for a quality tattoo.

            Making the Final Decision

            Hopefully once you’ve reached this stage you have established a deeper and intuitive sense of knowing which artist to pick. In any case, it will be helpful to reflect on all the information you have gathered, check in with your instincts (i.e. do a gut check as the stomach is very much connected to your brain through the vagus nerve), and consider your comfort level with the artist. When you’re ready, finalize the appointment and smile about the adventure to come!

            With gratitude,


            P.S. If you are a fan of the work we do at Discovery Ink & Art, please consider signing up for the Discovery Ink & Art Community mailing list to gain access to our tattoo bookings. You can also follow us on Instagram or Facebook 

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