Tattoo Consultations: How Do You Prepare? What Advice Do You Need To Know?

Written by: Pete

Getting a tattoo is an exciting time, but being prepared for your consultation is essential for a smooth tattoo session where everyone leaves happy. No matter where you are on your tattoo journey, a refresher on the dos and don’ts for a tattoo consultation is always a good idea. We’ve got your covered with our top advice for your tattoo consultation.

What Happens at a Tattoo Consultation?

A tattoo consultation is the first meeting you have with your artist. It will be what determines whether you think continuing to work with them will be a good idea for your tattoo, or if you want to move on to another artist. 

Whether you walk-in or call into the tattoo shop, your first appointment will be your consultation. It can last anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on how much needs to be planned or discussed. It’s usually free, unless you have made a downpayment for the tattoo prior to your consultation. 

In the consultation, you will:

  • Get a rough drawing of the design idea you have, built around your description
  • Decide on placement and potential sizing
  • Get an estimate on the time it will take to tattoo this as well as the cost
  • Discuss the tattooing process in general
  • Share your fears or concerns with your artist
  • Discuss your medical history and needs
  • Organize an appointment schedule for your piece

Can You Get a Tattoo Without a Consultation?

If you’ve worked with an artist multiple times and have established a relationship with them, you likely won’t need a consultation. Some shops also don’t require them and organize all dialogue with artists via email or messaging systems. 

Learn how to prepare for a tattoo

If this is your first time in a shop or first time with an artist, a consultation is recommended. And if this is your first tattoo, you definitely shouldn’t skip the process - this is the perfect time to ask questions and be transparent about any fears you may have regarding your first tattoo.

How to Prepare For a Tattoo Consultation - Tips and Tricks

Here are some of our top tips to prepare for your tattoo consultation.

Understand the Consultation Terms

Before signing any documentation regarding your consultation, ask these questions:

  • Is it free?
  • Does it mean I must commit to the artist?
  • How long will it last?
  • Which artist will I be meeting with?

Choose Your Artist Carefully

When selecting an artist, you should have a thorough understanding of the design and style they specialize in, and whether it will work for what you want to get done. You don’t want to waste the time of an old-school artist with a watercolor design idea, for example!

Do Your Research

You should have a basic understanding of tattooing, how a session will run, and how the experience works. This will allow you to formulate any questions you may have to bring to your consultation with you.

Things you may want to ask about are:

  • The sanitation practices of the shop and their licensing
  • The aftercare process
  • Payment methods for the tattoo appointment
  • If you can bring someone with you or use numbing cream
  • If you need a deposit and if you lose that, should you change your mind

Prepare the Idea

You should go into your tattoo consultation with a rough idea about what you want to get tattooed and where. Your style, coloring, sizing, and specific imagery should be written down, roughly sketched out, or communicated clearly to your artist during your consultation.

Be Transparent About Health Issues

A tattoo is essentially a medical procedure and you need to be transparent with your artist about any of your health concerns, medication needs, or history of blood-borne illnesses so your artist can keep you and themselves safe. 

Don’t Be Late

A tattoo artist doesn’t do their job as a hobby, it’s a career. Respect their time and ensure you are not late for your appointment.

Ask What You Should and Shouldn’t Do

If this is your first tattoo, you may want to ask your tattoo artist how to best prepare for your session, and whether there are things, such as numbing cream, that you should avoid during your actual appointment. 

FAQs About Tattoo Consultations

  • Do you tip for a tattoo consultation?
    A tattoo consultation is usually included in the tattoo pricing and tipping is not necessary. You may be required to put down a deposit at the end of your tattoo consultation, though.
  • How long does a tattoo consultation take?
    In general, consultations are around 30 minutes. But if you have a complicated medical history, a lot of questions, or a complex design, it may take longer.
  • Can you book more than one consultation?
    If you want to have multiple consultations in order to see the progress of your tattoo design, you can absolutely book more. Keep in mind that in most shops, only the first consultation is free - and you often don’t need more than one.
  • What if you change your mind about the design?
    A tattoo is going on your body for the rest of your life, so you absolutely have a right to change your mind about a design. But you may be expected to pay for the time it takes to do the design changes or to book a secondary consultation with a fee.
  • What’s tattoo consultation etiquette?
    The best etiquette for a tattoo consultation is to be on time for your appointment and to ask and trust your artist’s advice on the tattoo you want to get done. Listen carefully to their comments and suggestions and consider them carefully.
  • What do you bring to a tattoo consultation?
    If you have a rough sketch of a design or a design idea you want to build off of, bring that with you to the consultation. 

Our Final Thoughts

A tattoo consultation is your first stop to having an incredible tattooing experience with a piece of art you are absolutely in love with. Remember to take your time researching the procedure, shop, and artist, prior to booking your consultation. Be prepared to be flexible and trust in the expertise of your artist, during the process. 

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