A Few Tattoo Tips for Noobs

Screening: The one thing that every artist will tell clients over and over is to come in and meet with potential artists in person. Finding the right fit is essential to creating a piece that everyone loves. Artists try to make this process as simple as possible, cultivating a binder of their work for clients to flip through as well as answering questions before drawing up a sample. Meet the artist halfway and visit him (or her) in the shop.

Pinterest: Beloved by 47.1 million Americans, this screenshot-scrapbook is the source of an undeterminable number of “copy cat” tats. It can be hard not to covet the impressive designs on hundreds of thousands of boards, but some artists joke that they have to check Pinterest to see what they’ll be tattooing this week. Try to be original, artists say, and be sure to select a tattoo that speaks directly to you.

Tipping: Good tattoos are the product of honed skills, long apprenticeships and thousands of hours sketching, research and dedication on the part of the artist. It is customary to tip a tattoo artist. While there is no hard and fast rule, many recipients state that a flat number is a safe bet (i.e., $50–100), and a minimum of 20% is a great starting point, too.

Respect their time: A deposit is required for almost any tattoo that isn’t selected directly from a list of designs. Offering a down-payment lets the artist know that you’re serious, and compensates him for his time while he draws a mock-up. If you have a deposit, be sure to make and keep your appointment. Some artists reserve to retain deposits if clients cancel, or if they fail to schedule a date in a timely manner. Be aware of this before going in, and ask about the shop or artist’s policy.

Focused, not Rude: A select percentage of clients report that their artist seemed “rude,” “quiet,” or turned them off. Artists in Tacoma report that, for almost every instance, this is not the case. Don’t let their tats and piercings fool you: tattoo artists are busy professionals. If they come across as short, you can elect to take your business elsewhere or assume the likely truth: he or she is not adept at patronizing iffy clients. Don’t take it personally; that’s just silly.

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