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Tattooing: Great Artists Vs Bad Artists

One of the great artists at Lucky Bamboo Tattoo, Jared.
Jared is one of the Great Artists at LBT


In the world of tattooing, artists are the forefront of creation and execution of a good, well done tattoo. Not all artists are created equal. Not by a long shot. Some are great, some are good, and some are flat out terrible. It may sound harsh and judgmental, but it’s simply a fact. Not everyone is cut out to be a tattoo artist. If it were that easy, more people would do it.


There are many things that can contribute to how good or bad an artist is. As a client, you’ll want to learn if your potential artist is one to avoid. Not only do you want your tattoo to come out as good or better than you expect, but you also want your overall experience to be a good one. Here are some of the things that determine if someone is a good tattoo artist or a bad one.


A person isn’t necessarily a “bad” artist if they don’t have any formal art education. Some people out there are very good artists just through personal practice. However, a tattoo artist with a real art education does have an edge and some advantages. They learn many skills that you generally don’t just pick up on your own, regardless of how good you might be. Various techniques and abilities need to be learned from an experienced teacher and observed to make sure they are being done correctly.


There are more than one type of person out there that does tattoos. Some are artists that studied, practiced and had an apprenticeship. Then, there are those that bought a tattoo machine online and randomly decided that they are a tattoo artist. An unskilled and untrained person doing tattoos is not a tattoo artist, they are a ‘scratcher’. Scratchers are the cause of the vast majority of complications, blow outs, and the reason someone needs a cover-up. Avoid scratchers.

Another important factor is knowledge. Not just knowledge of what to do, but also what NOT to do. This pertains to both the whole of the tattooing process, but also about sanitary and cleanliness practices. If your artist has not gone through and maintained a Bloodborne Pathogens certification, you need a new artist. Knowing how to keep your work area clean, sanitized and safe are very important. Knowing how to avoid cross-contamination are very important. Knowledge is important. A good artist has this knowledge through training and practice.


An artists temperament can play a key role on how good of a tattoo artist they are. If a person has a generally crappy attitude, they’re a bummer to be around. This is extra true regarding your tattoo artist. Who wants to sit for hours with some grump while they mope and scribble on you angrily? A good artist, regardless of what is going on in their personal life, will put all that on the back burner and focus on their work. A real artist is a professional and doesn’t bring their personal problems to the studio.


A good artist will always be patient. Not just with clients, but also with themself and the process. Sure, everybody can get frustrated now and then when a piece of art they’re working on isn’t coming out as they envisioned. The good artist approaches this with patience and just keeps working on the drawing until it comes out right. The bad artist throws their hands up in the air and just gives up on that piece and starts from scratch.

Sometimes, it’s the client that can be frustrating. It happens. The good artists will keep moving forward with a good attitude until the project is finished. Bad artists might simply rush the tattoo to get it over with, leaving their client with poor work. Even if it’s a piece the artist isn’t thrilled about, if they’re good, they’ll still put their all into it because regardless of how they feel about the concept, they’ll still want it to come out as well as the client expects.


Most of us get to deal with listening to the problems of our family and friends. Who wants to sit and listen to their tattoo artist complain for hours about their troubles? That may sound heartless, but people want a certain experience while getting their tattoo. Listening to someone complain isn’t that experience. We all have problems, we don’t want to hear about other peoples while we are trying to enjoy ourselves.


Unfortunately, there are quite a few so-called artists that are also very inappropriate towards their clients, to the degree of sexual harassment. If you have an artist that is saying things that make you feel uncomfortable or that you’re actually in danger, that is most definitely a bad artist. Sometimes those types get a reputation because of it, and not the good kind. If you hear time and time again about a situation where a particular artist was out of hand, you may want to avoid that person.

Don’t be too quick to judge, however, off of one online review. Sometimes people just make things up for whatever malicious reason they have. Look at an artists reviews as a whole. If someone has a ton of great reviews, but one that seems a bit fishy, you can generally get a good feel for someone by just meeting them in person. Perhaps book a consultation with that artist and see for yourself.

The previous applies to both men and women because both can be guilty of harassment. Not only verbal, but also physical. If you are in a session, and your artist is making contact frequently somewhere where no tattooing is occurring and there’s no reason for any touching there, say something. Make sure they know that it’s not welcome. Too many shy people have told them over time that it’s “okay” to do that by keeping quiet. Don’t let them think that way.


Any good artist will be reliable. They’ll be completely prepared with your art, they’ll be set up and ready to go once your session is supposed to start. Sometimes unforeseen complications can happen, such as your artist is very sick. In that event, it’s best to reschedule for both your personal health and for the sake of your tattoo. If you artist is really under the weather, you won’t get their best work. It’s worth waiting to get it done once they are well. It can be frustrating, but it’s for the best.

A bad artist will often be late to work, not be prepared with your art at all, take 30 min of your session time setting up, and so on. Again, sometimes things happen, and some of the previous things occur even to the best artist, but this would be an anomaly. If they’re generally reliable, then that means they fall into the category of a good artist. It’s when it’s constant to the point of expected that they’ll be late or unprepared is when they’re bad at what they do.


If your artist has to get a little stoned or have a few drinks before or during your tattoo, this is definitely not a professional and is a bad artist. There’s nothing wrong with people partaking now and then, and having a few drinks, but not while you’re tattooing, or doing any job, really.

If your artist can’t go a few hours tattooing without taking a smoke break, maybe it’s time for them to quit (smoking or tattooing). Smoking isn’t a necessity and it can be put off for at least 2 hours, in the very least. Nobody has to go smoke every 15 minutes, artists or clients. True nicotine addiction cravings don’t really take place for about 6-8 hours after the last drag. Surely a person can go a couple of hours without needing a butt.


A good artist will be educated, skilled, knowledgable, professional, prepared, and reliable. A bad artist will be the opposite.


If you’re ready to get your next tattoo done, schedule an appointment with an award-winning tattoo parlor. Here at Lucky Bamboo Tattoo, we have some of the best and most experienced tattoo artists in Utah and the Salt Lake City area. We can tattoo any style you’d like, and our artists can even design your next piece as well.

Come see why we have been voted “The Best Tattoo Studio In Utah” for several years in a row.

Lucky Bamboo Tattoo understands that tattoo collectors searching for the best tattoo shop in Utah comes with a big responsibility and we here at LBT are ready to fulfill your tattoo needs.

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