Some of us have grand ideas for our tattoos but don’t have an ounce of artistic skill in our back pockets. And most of us know not to find a standard design on the internet and have an artist copy it, note for note. So when we are stuck in this pickle, can we ask a tattoo artist to design a tattoo for us?
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Designing a Custom Tattoo
A tattoo will become a permanent piece on your skin and, as such, requires careful thought and consideration. You don’t want to regret your ink a few years down the line and be faced with the decision as to whether it should be removed.
One of the simplest ways to avoid tattoo regret is to get your artist to design your tattoo for you. Here are a few factors to keep in mind.
Finding the Right Artist
Just like you wouldn’t ask Picasso to create a Mucha painting, you need to take time to research and find the right artist for the particular style you prefer. While many tattoo artists don’t have an issue working with different genres of ink, most are specialized in one particular style. Some of these styles include:
- Linework - good for simple and dainty tattoo designs
- Dot work - great for geometric patterning and textured designs
- Old school tattoos - these are the traditional tattoos from the first days of tattooing
- Realism - excellent style for portraits
- Watercolor - be careful with artists who do watercolor tattoos as it’s quite trendy, and finding a skilled artist in this can be quite difficult
- Botanical - some artists like to focus on flora and fauna pieces
The best way to see if an artist fits your vision is to have a look at their past work and their current flashbook. A flashbook is a collection of drawings that an artist has available to be tattooed. You are not required to pick something from a flashbook, but it will give you a good idea of what kind of style the artist specializes in and how they might be able to make your idea come to life.
Giving Your Own Input
Most artists and shops offer free consultations that allow you to discuss your idea with your artist. It’s during this consultation that you will be able to share your ideas or vision with your potential artist and see if they are able to make it come to life.
Sometimes you may be required to pay a small downpayment on your future tattoo because of the time that it takes for an artist to draw up the concept design of your piece. After viewing your concept design, you can give further input to ensure that the finished piece is as perfect as you envisioned it in your head.
If your tattoo artist seemed to take a direction with your design that you’re not comfortable with, you have two options: ask them to redraw the entire concept, or move on with another artist. Of course, we always recommend asking your artist to explain their thoughts behind their piece as they may have a valid reason for certain elements they have added or taken away from your idea.
If you are really unhappy, remember that this is a permanent piece of art that you will have on your body. You have a right to ask questions or demand changes prior to getting it done.
Booking Your Appointment
Your artist may not book your appointment until after the design is finalized and approved for tattooing, or they may book your appointment in order to give themselves a deadline for completing the design. Either way, you will likely have to give your final “okay” a day or two before your session.
Don’t try and change things on the day of your appointment as this can delay the tattoo artist’s entire workday and could even cause your tattoo appointment to be shifted to another day. Make sure you are truly happy before you go into your session.
Frequently Asked Questions About Having Your Tattoo Artist Design Your Tattoo
- Does it cost more money to ask the artist to draw the design for you?
The decision to charge for a design is different for every artist. Some artists include it in their overall price. Some may require a downpayment for their time drawing the design, in case you change your mind about getting the tattoo. Some ask for a payment for the design and a separate payment for the tattoo session. Ask your artist during your consultation how their pricing works.
- Can you bring your own design to the artist?
Of course you can! Most tattoo artists are comfortable tattooing something that has already been drawn up by you or a friend of yours, for example. But we will be straight with you: most tattoo artists don’t like copying a design you found on the internet, so try and reconsider copying another design.
- What should you avoid doing if you want the best tattoo design drawn up?
A tattoo artist is an artist, and while you may have a vision, they have the ability to bring it to life in a way that fits their style, the region you plan to have it tattooed on, and the size you demanded. They may make artistic changes that you didn’t anticipate and you should trust them on most of these changes and ask them to adjust only where you are truly uncomfortable with a design.
- How long does it take a tattoo artist to draw up a design? Can they draw it up faster?
Most tattoo artists don’t set aside time in the shop to work on their client designs. They are working on this aspect of their job in their free time. You should respect the amount of time it may take them to complete your drawing.
- Can I be a tattoo artist if I can’t draw?
Absolutely, you can! In fact, we wrote an entire article with tips on how to become a tattoo artist if you can’t draw.
Our Final Thoughts
For most tattoo artists, drawing up designs for clients and making their ideas and visions come to life is just another part of the job description. Remember to be patient with your artist as they create your design and be clear about any changes you want to be made, far ahead of your session. Take time to research artists that fit with the style you want to emulate for your piece, and respect their artistic vision in the process.