After being in the industry for such a long time we've come across all sorts of interesting, and sometimes unusual questions but there are those which pop up a lot more than others. So to help our wonderful followers better understand what we do and address some of the most frequently asked questions we're setting up a weekly (maybe bi-weekly) blog post to answer these and give you some more insight into the profession we love so much!
Even though tattoos are becoming growingly popular and slowly gaining social acceptance we still have a large number of clients who come in for their first tattoos and others who still aren't quite sure on the process. So to kick off these entries we thought we'd write about some things we need to know from you before getting a tattoo.
There are 4 main elements to consider when you first decide to get a tattoo
1. Subject Matter - What you would like the actual tattoo to be of
This may seem like an obvious point but it is the most crucial part of any tattoo.
Did you see a picture or a piece of artwork which inspired you? Have you got someone or something in your life you want visually represented? Maybe you just love a particular show/anime or video game? Whatever it may be the possibilities are endless!
We love being given creative freedom, however it can be quite daunting for a client to request 'anything' or only know the things they don't want. This often creates a larger work load for the artist, having to change or re-draw a design to figure out what the client is after; deep down everyone has a preference which is worth taking the time to figure out.
The exception to this are flash designs and specific symbols
(things which are unchangeable like logos see examples to the right) which we will always have available at the shop. Then there’s other side of this, when a client brings in a photo of an existing tattoo that they want us to replicate exactly on them. It's important to understand that each tattoo is an individual work of art that a tattooist has put their own hard work and time into crafting for someone else. It's not only insulting and extremely disrespectful to the original artist and client but it'll be practically impossible to find a well trained, professional, and ethical tattooist willing to copy another artist's work.
It's still totally cool to bring in an inspirational picture you've found and have us work together on creating a special, original, piece just for you! In fact we encourage bringing in reference photos and pictures as it’s a way for the artist to visualise your ideas and get a multidimensional understanding of your design.
Here at Shop 9 & 3/4 we specialise in pop culture designs but these aren’t the only tattoos we’re willing to do. We may be a little more selective on the types of work we take on, however there’s absolutely no harm in sending us through a message about your idea :)
2. Style- how you want the tattoo to look.
Nowadays there's such a variety of styles ranging from the
hyper-realistic photo representation to the simplicity and minimalism of geometric illustrations. Usually the best way to convey this to us is through a reference of a tattoo/piece of art which matches the style you are after. We’ll cover more on style in our next entry.
3. Placement - Where on the body you want the design to go.
This can be a tricky one for both a first tattoo and a seasoned tattoo veteran. Although it is the artist's responsibility to best fit each design to the specific placement of the client it is important to consider that there are some places better suited for particular pieces due to the shapes/forms in the design and matching these to the contours of the body.
Some general points about specific placements:
forearms- this area is what we generally refer to as our ‘prime real-estate’ which basically means this is the part of the body everyone will see, all the time and is generally best suited for larger pieces or as part of half full sleeve. A lot of the time we find stand alone smaller design on forearms can tend to look a little lost in the surrounding skin.
ribs/stomach- while pain should not be a major consideration in getting a tattoo (if you want it enough you can do it!) these are regarded by a lot of people and artists as the most painful areas. If you do decide to get a tattoo in one of these areas make sure to have a decent meal before you come (sugar also helps), focus on your breathing (yes we have had people who forget to breathe!), get yourself into a positive mindset, and try your best to keep still. We have a big TV in the tattoo room to help distract you, and feel free to bring in your own music. (image to the right has these spots shown)
Feet/lower ankles/knees/elbows- These are areas of the body which are all more prone to drop out. This means that sometimes the ink will ‘fall out’ or fade faster than usual. This is due to the nature of the skin and the consistency of use (i.e. we’re always moving out joints and things like shoes/socks are constantly rubbing against our feet/ankles). We can still tattoo these areas and it is different for everyone, it’s just something to bear in mind.
Hands/Necks/Faces- All of these areas, as a general rule, we do not tattoo here. There are a few reasons for this including the type of skin on these areas, the social implications, and how the artist have been taught. Although we do handle these on a case-by-case basis.
Coverups(covering an old tattoo with a new one)- Yes we do take on cover up pieces but these are on a case-by-case basis. With cover-up we always need to go larger and darker than the piece we are covering. A few sessions of laser removal, especially on older tattoos, will give you a lot more options with what is realistically achievable so we always recommend having a look into this option.
4. Size - How big/small you want the design
Once you’ve got an idea on placement then you can start to think about how large you want the tattoo. This is something which isn’t usually completely finalised until the day of the tattoo, as the artist will put a stencil first on your body which they use as the guide for the tattoo. This stencil will be the exact size as the finished piece so up until this point the size can always be tweaked if needed.
There are a few restrictions and recommendations we provide on size. The more detailed a design is, the larger this will need to be due to how tattoo heal and spread in the skin over time. Also some areas of the body are better suited to larger pieces.
At the end of the day....
The most important thing to remember is that it's YOUR tattoo! Do what makes you happy and don't let anything or anyone else negatively influence your decisions, tattoos are forever and mean all sorts of things to different people which is why it’s worth taking the time to go through all the info you need and ask any questions that you might have. We do our best to help bring your ideas into reality with our own little touch of magic. Every single tattoo is special, and being able to create expressive pieces of living artwork for our clients is the biggest honour and seeing the happiness this can give people is what it’s all about and why we do it :)