Finding the right tattoo artist can be a bit of a challenge if you don’t know what you’re looking for. There are things you should know that will help you find the right artist for the job, and save yourself from getting a tattoo that you aren’t in love with!
The first thing to understand is that not every tattoo artist has the same capabilities or skill set. Just because they work in a tattoo shop does not mean they are producing high quality tattoos. Make sure you spend the necessary time looking through artist portfolios! Although many artists are capable of a variety of styles, most professional tattoo artists have specific styles of tattooing that they focus on. Some of these styles are traditional, neo-traditional, black/grey, Japanese, photo realistic, illustrative realism, watercolor, geometric, etc. This is a big part of finding the right artist for your tattoo! You may find someone willing to do a certain style tattoo for you but that doesn’t mean they are the best artist for the design. Most professional tattoo artists have their portfolios online as well as in the studio they work in for you to be able to check out and get a sense of what it is they excel at.
Shop by portfolio, not price! A tattoo is forever, and you definitely get what you pay for in the tattoo world. The national average hourly rate for professional tattoo artists in the industry is 150$ an hour. When you find an artist charging dirt cheap prices there is a reason, and you will usually be able to see a difference in the quality of work they produce. If it takes you spending some time saving up for that awesome tattoo then save up! Don’t rush in to a bad tattoo. It is way more expensive to cover-up or remove a poorly done tattoo than it is to get a good tattoo in the first place!
Shop cleanliness is very important when shopping for the right artist and shop! The studio should be free of debris, the artists should have full setup and takedown procedures for each appointment, using covers for all equipment as they are tattooing and making sure not to cross-contaminate as they tattoo you. If you don’t know how to look for these things ask! A professional tattoo artist should be able to give you a good breakdown of their sterilization procedure for each tattoo they do. A good artist will also have aftercare options for you! The way your tattoo heals is going to really affect how it looks a month down the road.
Once you find an artist you love in a shop that you trust, give your artist the artistic freedom to do what you have sought them out for. No artist in any profession likes to be micro-managed, and the more you limit them the less and less likely they will be able to produce something unique and custom that the both of you love. Artists will always have different ideas that they want to bounce off of you and recommendations for you to think about as far as the design, placement etc. so that the tattoo is the very best that it can be. Be open-minded to what they are telling you, and ask any questions you may have so that you guys can be on the same page and ready to go!