Something Tattoo Clients Should Never Do! never, ever, ever.

this sea captain is actually a skilled tattoo artist

this sea captain is actually a skilled tattoo artist

Never get someone else,

who is not a tattoo artist,

to draw a

tattoo for you

(especially if you are paying a non-tattoo artist for it).

    • Tattoo artists can draw.

This is why we do tattoos. Not only can we draw, we enjoy it. Also, we gain through our work experience a feel for the engineering of the surfaces of the human body; this is a quality of good tattooing that most other artists will not understand r use to its best advantage. (I.e.- where do you put the focal point on a sleeve? how do you draw perspective lines on a column that twists every time someone moves? how do you make mountains look distant on a round but mobile surface?) We also have an understanding of the formula of the medium. Time is not kind to the human body; when using it as a canvas there are a lot of pitfalls, and most non-tattoo artists fall into these constantly.

    • A good tattoo artist tattoos professionally in a studio, as a full-time job.

It will be their primary medium. They will have a portfolio online or at the studio which you can look through to get assurance about their skill levels, artistically. Pick a tattoo artist whose work you like AS AN ARTIST.

    • If you get someone else to draw a design for your tattoo, it will not work on skin.

I can personally 99.999% guarantee this. Add to that the fact that most artists dislike being paid to trace and copy, and prefer to draw and create…and you will see that finding a tattoo artist whose art style you like is the best thing to do when you want a tattoo.
Instead of looking for that exact image, or subject matter, judge the tattoo artists’ work the same way as any other artist. Don’t see any barbarian women in their portfolio? look at their figures instead. Can they capture the kind of gestures you want? Are the lines smooth and the colors crisp and bright, or the tonal values correct? Judge by ability, don’t just look for your specific idea in their book. If you like the feeling of the work, they will make your subject that way too- so always ask before assuming…if I am capable of doing a solid black leg panel, then I am certainly capable of rendering a solid dark shadow. If I can letter evenly, I can make a straight line. If the color in my tattoo of a blue sky is vibrant, then yes, a bluebird will be bright as well.

The only exception to this entire post is having a tattoo artist draw a concept sketch or purchasing tattoo flash from a tattoo artist, then having a different tattoo artist apply it. This is usually just fine, and the two artists can even discuss the piece and its application by email too.

  • Many tattoo artists do not charge a fee for the concept stages of artwork. They will do the design work for free, often, once you have left a deposit to get the tattoo done.

Many of us include the drawing fee in the cost of the tattoo when we give you an estimate. It usually doesn’t cost any more to have a good tattoo artist design the work you’ll have them do.No matter how cool the picture is that you bring to us, we WILL have to make changes to it, in order for it to work on skin. You will NOT save money by having a third party do it for you- actually it is more difficult to copy and translate someone else’s work.

  • You can look online for an artist to trust.

Their work should be something that you like the look and feel of in general. I know a lot of artists across the country; feel free to message me here or there if you want names or studios.  you can also google for a local tattooer. your research should be focused on finding a tattoo artist whose work you enjoy, then asking them for ideas. We spend all day every day learning about the specifics of the medium; it is a very limited and challenging one. Find a tattoo artist you trust. Get them to do the artwork. If they need any additional reference they will certainly ask you for some.

   Not everyone knows that we are artists; it makes sense that people who are naive about this would ask here. I thought this list might help someone. I’ve been a fulltime professional tattoo artist for many years, and I travel and work at conventions and all like that often. I know it’s an obscure medium to a lot of people and the TV doesn’t help much to explain the reality of it to people.

(by the way, a literal ton of my work is available at , in case you want some!)