So, you want to get a tattoo, do you? Well, kids, you’ve made an important first step in the process of getting a tattoo! Now…to attend to those pesky details. You know the ones, right? The ones that determine the little things. What the tattoo will BE, for instance. Or how big. Or where it will be placed…do you see where I’m going with this? I’ve got more, but you know…attention spans in the digital age, and all that.
Given the rise of tattoo culture in the public eye through social media, cable networks and progressive evolution of social attitudes toward body adornment, it was natural that the tattoo industry also evolve in kind. These days, you are as likely to walk in to a tattoo shop that does not display or use ANY form of ready-made flash or tattoo designs, instead offering fully unique custom art for each individual. Trinity Art Collective is one of these. Conversely, there are still tattoo shops that prefer to offer the ease of choice, or potential starting-point of tattoo “flash.” Neither of these approaches are incorrect, or bad. They are simply a reflection of the desires (and often, capabilities) of the artists therein.
Now…on to the beans and bullets, kids.
First, please…have some kind of idea of what you might want. Time after time we hear things like: “Whatever you think would look good,” or, “You’re the Artist.” Well, yes…thank you. We ARE the Artists, but YOU are the clients! When you come to us and say, “Do whatever,” how do you know you’re not about to get a Unicorn with an enormous glittery erect member holding a haunted-looking teddy bear in a poorly lit broom closet? I mean, you did say “whatever,” right?
If you are capable, hop on the Interwebs and search around for some fitting examples of what sort of things you might be interested in, idea-wise. Don’t pay too much attention to things like exact image or colors. Rather, focus on areas such as style of art, subject matter, color versus black and grey, etc. It is the work of mere seconds to cram one’s eyeballs full of tattoo images of every style and palette, so this sort of searching can also help with deciding on where to put this masterpiece you’ve got in mind. However, save yourself a little bit of a gaffe…NEVER ASK AN ARTIST TO COPY ANOTHER ARTIST’S WORK. This is anathema to a self-respecting professional. I don’t care if you have a certified letter from the original artist that posted it on Pinterest or wherever it came from. Just no. We are Artists. We make Art. We will make you one of your own. You don’t need someone else’s. You do you.
Second, try to get to know your Artist and their strengths a little bit. Things have changed since those dirty nights on the Pike when the sailors were on shore-leave and tattooers didn’t have the time, nor the inclination to connect with their customers on a personal level. They don’t call ’em the Bad Old Days for nothing, you know? These days, we actually want to get some kind of idea what you’re about. We wade through a constant stream of people coming to us with vague and elusive ideas that might not exist in any visual form, and our job is to extract those juicy nuggets of salient details from the skulls of our clients in a gentle and friendly way…then convert said nuggets into graphic representations of esoteric concepts, emotions, ideas and metaphors. Plus, it must be correct the first time we do it, every time we do it. Easy, right? I guess the thrust here is don’t ask Michaelangelo to paint you a Monet.
Last, I should touch on a couple of things. It’s been beaten to death, and the horse has been long-buried, people. But, I have this folding shovel and a baseball bat so handy, it would be such a shame to waste them… If you want top-shelf tattoos, be ready to pay top-shelf prices. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have given a price for some tattoo or another to have it balked at, and then be told that “So-and-so down the road” said he could do it for… You know what? Neat! Awesome, in fact! Understand, if you are shopping for a price, a price is what you are going to get. If you want a tattoo, the price comes with the work. Either way, you end up paying a professional. You pay them to do the tattoo correctly to begin with, pay them to cover up or fix the horrible turd that “So-and-so down the road” carved into your flesh at half-price and probably in a kitchen, or you pay to have the thing removed via laser treatment. I have heard some gripping stories of this process, y’all…it does not sound fun. I think I’d rather make love to a cactus.
As a parting shot, while the soap-box is out and the rant is winding down, TAKE CARE OF YOUR TATTOOS FOR PETE’S SAKE! Do you think we talk ourselves blue in the face about the care and feeding of your new tattoo because we like the sound of it? I mean, I sorta do, but I’m like that…but I digress. These days, Artists go the extra mile and spend the extra dough to ensure that your tattoos can look as awesome as possible for as long as possible. This is something easily hamstrung by the aftercare. Too much ointment…not clean enough…too wet…too dry. Many things can happen, but the right things are easy to do and take far less time than fixing it afterward.
Stay tuned…I’ll be back with Part 2, where we’ll tackle such important topics as: Does my Artist want to kill me? and Why can’t I get the Aztec Calendar the size of a Nickel?