Whether you’ve moved across the country or planet, or perhaps years down the line your tattoo needs some upgrading and you can’t get to your original artist, there could be numerous reasons why you might consider asking another artist to finish another person’s ink. The question remains as to whether one tattoo artist will touch another artist’s work. Like most creative careers, is there an unspoken rule of respect against this practice?
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Is There an Unspoken Rule About Finishing Another Tattoo Artist’s Work?
There could be numerous reasons you are considering going to a different tattoo artist to complete a piece you already started. These can include:
- Your original artist is not working anymore, or moved too far away
- The original shop is out of business
- You moved to another state, or even another country
- You are not 100% happy with the original artist’s work and want to expand upon it with a new design
Like most creative trades, some artists are just uncomfortable working with someone else’s foundation. The decision to move forward with finishing up another artist’s work is all up to each individual artist.
Will a Tattoo Artist Finish Another Artist’s Work?
While it is in your right to swap tattoo artists halfway through the completion of a piece, or to seek out another artist to add details or expand upon the already existing design of a tattoo, not all artists will be comfortable with this idea.
Sometimes, artist styles are completely different and in an effort to save you from disappointment, they may decline the chance to continue your tattoo. In other situations, respect for the original artist, a friendship with them, or wanting to remain consistent with their individual work in the industry may lead them to say no.
Most tattoo artists want the client to be happy in all situations, and you’re likely to find someone who is comfortable with finishing another artist’s work with a bit of research.
How to Choose a Tattoo Artist
If you do intend to get your work completed by another artist, it’s important to do thorough research into the shop, the artist themselves, and their individual style, to ensure it corresponds to your existing design.
Ask the artist how they intend to expand upon the work, and whether they have suggestions to improve the plans. Browse through their portfolio and make sure their style syncs with yours. Inexperienced tattoo artists who are eager to jump on and finish a design are not worth the risk; take your time choosing your second artist.
The Style of Tattoo
Will the artist be completely copying the design style or continuing in their own style and flare? Will the artist be continuing with the design or simply building upon it with new features and details? Will the design styles of the two artists clash?
These are all important questions you need to ask yourself and your artist.
Communication is Key
Your new tattoo artist likely wants some honesty about why you are getting another artist to continue your tattoo. Don’t be vague, and if you left the first artist due to disappointment with their work, communicate this clearly so that your second artist can truly produce something of value.
How your secondary artist will expand upon the first artist’s work should be clearly defined to you, and you should ask plenty of questions to ensure that you won’t be disappointed a second time with your tattoo. You both need to be on the same page with how your final design will look, and a clear sketch that molds their design ideas with your existing tattoo is essential to the process.
Things You Need to Consider
- A tattoo artist or shop has a right to decline tattooing someone else’s work. This doesn’t mean you should go to the first shop who says yes; ensure they have a great reputation with experienced artists.
- An artist is more likely to build upon someone else’s piece rather than redesign or finish it.
- Make sure your tattoo artist gives you a clear idea of what the final piece will look like with their stenciled design over your already existing work.
- Don’t ask an artist to replicate the style of your previous artist. It’s like asking Van Gogh to replicate Monet; it’s just not possible. It’s also very disrespectful.
- Consider the knowledge of your artist. If they don’t believe your previous idea will work with the existing design, take their advice about the final piece.
- Don’t ask another artist in the same shop to finish a tattoo. This is rude.
- Be honest about why you are not going back to the original tattoo artist, and ask yourself if it’s worth risking it by switching to another artist.
Our Final Thoughts
There are so many reasons someone might choose to switch artists halfway through a piece; they could be geographical, personal, or financially influenced. Whatever the reason, take careful time to research the secondary artist to make sure that their work syncs with your vision and the original tattoo. A second artist’s work needs to be seen as a completely new tattoo project, and the process should be clearly discussed and patiently planned out. Don’t be disrespectful of the existing and new tattoo artist during all of this.