How To Find A Tattoo Artist

Find the perfect tattoo artist for a flawless and satisfying tattoo experience.

Written by Shreya Mukherjee, MA (English)
Edited by Anjali Sayee, BTech
Fact-checked by Gazala Firdos Ansari, Integrated MA (English)  • 

If the search for “how to find a tattoo artist” has led you here, rest assured you are on the right path. Finding the perfect tattoo artist is pivotal to achieve your desired body art sans any mistakes. Your hunt for the best tattooist should begin with thorough research and understanding. But we understand that not everyone knows what factors should they consider when choosing a tattoo artist or where to even start the research.

Delving into an artist’s techniques, researching their work through reviews, and exploring their portfolio can provide you with the needed valuable insights. This article works as a complete guide to help you determine whether the chosen artist aligns with your vision and expectations or not. A skilled artist offers technical proficiency to ensure the quality of the tattoo, while their personality contributes to a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere during the process.

So, the expertise, personality, and creativity of a tattoo artist play important roles in shaping not just the artwork but the entire tattoo experience. Keep reading to delve a little deeper into what you should be checking when searching for an expert tattoo artist.

What To Look For In A Tattoo Artist?

In order to find the best professional tattoo artist, you need to focus on their work. We all know to look for an artist with years of experience, but there are a few other factors you need to consider when trying to find an exceptional tattooist.

  • Reviews

Start by asking friends or family who have tattoos for recommendations. Direct recommendations from people you know are valuable. Check if they had a positive experience – how the artist reacted to their suggestions, the skill at delivering the desired outcome, and how at ease the tattooist put them during the process. If you do not have any friends or family that have recommendations, browse through the internet for some suggestions. Most artists have their work displayed on a studio or portfolio website or social media platform. This makes it easy for you to check their work, the longevity of tattoos done by the artist, and the reviews left by their clients.

  • Portfolio And Images
A tattoo artist sketching out a design
Image: Shutterstock

Check the artist’s previous works and pay close attention to the details in their art and see if they specialize in the style you want. Do their designs have neat lines, shading, and vibrant colors? A skilled and experienced tattoo artist should be able to show a gradual, seamless transition of colors. If they struggle to blend colors smoothly, it could suggest that their overall skill level needs improvement in certain aspects of tattooing. Also, think about how the tattoos in their portfolio look as they age. If you can find pictures of healed tattoos, it gives you an idea of how well the artist’s work stands the test of time.

  • Awards And Recognition

Take note of artists who have received awards, as this indicates their talent and popularity within the tattooing community. Look into the specific awards they have won and what categories they excel in. This can give you insights into their strengths as an artist. However, keep in mind that award-winning artists may be in high demand and have a very busy schedule and high price ranges. Therefore, it is advisable to book your appointment well in advance.

  • Hygiene
A tattoo artist cleaning the studio
Image: Shutterstock

As a general rule of thumb, when choosing a tattoo artist, prioritize hygiene for your own safety. Ensure the artist wears gloves during the tattooing process and the studio maintains the highest cleanliness standards by regularly sanitizing surfaces, changing plastic on chairs, and keeping the artist’s tools and workspace organized. All needles, inks, and pots should be new and come from sealed, sterile packages for each client. You can also check if the artist has completed health, safety, and hygiene courses. Unhygienic practices can lead to a bad tattoo experience and cause serious health complications.

  • Studio Location

You have to take into account the location of the studio where your preferred artist operates. It is important to select a studio that is conveniently located near your home, especially if you are planning on getting a larger tattoo that may require multiple sessions to complete. Choosing a studio nearby ensures easy accessibility and minimizes travel inconvenience throughout your tattooing process. Also, if the artist is working for a tattooing studio, rather than privately, check the company’s history. How do they select their artists? This will give you a better look into the artist’s expert level.

These are a few important aspects you need to consider before choosing a tattoo artist. Whether you are new to tattooing or a seasoned tattoo enthusiast who has to find a new artist, these pointers are sure to come in handy. But where exactly do you begin the search? And how do you start researching their techniques and reviews? Scroll down to learn more.

How To Find A Tattoo Artist?

1. Finalize The Idea

The first step in your tattoo journey is figuring out what kind of design you want. Consider three main factors: the subject, style, and placement. The subject is the basic design you want, like a flower or tribal tattoo. The style of tattoo is the way you want the subject to look. There are different ways you can design a flower tattoo. The tattoo design can have shading or not; maybe you want it more geometric, abstract, or realistic. Do you want colors added in? All these factors help you figure out the style of the tattoo. The placement is where you want the tattoo on your body.

People with tattoos will attest that before you pick an artist you need to fix on your design. Once you figure those three main factors, you get a better understanding of which artists to consider based on the subject you want inked on your body. Talented artists often excel in different tattoo styles, so choose one that excels in the style you want. Though the placement is not the top priority, it is worth considering, especially for more challenging areas and larger pieces of art. Before choosing an artist, ensure your design is well-thought-out to get the best tattoo possible.

2. Ask Around

Once you know what type of a tattoo you want, ask friends, family, and acquaintances with body art about their experiences and recommendations. If they had a positive experience, contact the artist for more details. Discussing the tattooing experience with people can also give you an idea of what to ask the artist, like whether the body part you want inked will feel more pain compared to other areas or if they use a numbing cream before the needling begins.

Since word of mouth is a powerful tool, ask friends familiar with the industry for recommendations, especially if they know an artist skilled in the style you desire. Consider what aspects are important to you, whether it is the artist’s skill or their patience. Choose an artist who not only excels in their craft but also makes you feel comfortable during the tattooing process.

Mahafsoun, an artist and blogger, shares a less-than-pleasant experience with a tattoo artist who proved to be careless and unresponsive to her suggestions. She writes, “Constantly disagreeing to go with the design, size, and the detail that I wanted. It was my tattoo after all, I paid him to do what I wanted him to do on me, and he, before the tattoo day, agreed to do what I was envisioning (i).” She adds, “I waited for less than a month I believe, for this ugliness to heal, before I went on to search for a new artist – one who will actually do as I want on my body. One who will listen.”

3. Research The Artist And The Studio

A woman researching a tattoo artist on the internet
Image: Shutterstock

Make use of social media to research the artist, their style, and the studio. Most tattoo salons usually display their artists’ work. Artists often showcase their work on Instagram and other social media platforms or blog sites, providing a quick and easy way for you to assess their skills and style. Browse through their pages to get a feel for their artistic approach. Once you identify a style you like, use specific hashtags to discover more artists in that category. Pay attention to an artist’s following, as reputable and trusted tattooists tend to have a higher number of followers. Instagram, in particular, is a valuable tool to explore and narrow down potential tattoo artists based on their portfolios. Some tattoo salon or artist websites even have online reviews so you can check people’s experience with the artist.

4. Schedule A Consultation

A woman finalizing a tattoo with her tattoo artist
Image: Shutterstock

Once you have identified a preferred tattoo artist, take the initiative to reach out. Check their page for contact details. Reach out to them sharing detailed information about your desired tattoo, including its size, style, and placement. It is always best to consider contacting multiple tattooists to explore your options. You may also opt for a face-to-face approach if the artist is local, as meeting them in person can help ease any nervousness and ensure a better understanding of your tattoo choice.

5. Compare The Pricing

Tattoo prices can vary among artists. Experienced and well-known artists usually charge more, but it is worth it for a high-quality tattoo. However, exercise caution and avoid falling for extremely cheap prices, as they may be indicative of scams and could result in poor-quality tattoos. Also, custom pieces of body art may also cost more compared to flash tattoos. Some tattoo artists will have a varying range of prices depending on the style and size you want and the placement too.

protip_icon Quick tip
If you are on a budget, you can consider tattoo apprentices. They may be less experienced, however, they do have an experienced mentor that checks their work.

6. Understand The Before- And Aftercare Instructions

Ask your preferred artists about their pre and post care instructions. Most skilled tattooists will give you a set of instructions to follow before and after the tattooing process to make the experience better for you, such as avoiding alcohol before the session and applying an ointment after. Expert artists know that these care tips can have a huge impact on the tattoo.

When finding a tattoo artist via social media, make sure you search by location. The most popular tattoo artists based on the followers count and the hashtags may not always be located near you. Here are some tips to help you in this aspect.

Tips To Find Tattoo Artists By Location

  • Head to Instagram and search using specific hashtags. For example, use #tattoo+location like #tattoominnesota.
  • There are websites that will help you search for artists based on location via filters. Apply location and style filters, then check out samples of their work, and click on your preferred profile to learn more.
  • Use Google Maps to find tattoo shops near you. Use keywords like ‘tattoo shops near me’, ‘tattoo parlor near me’,or ‘tattooist’ to get different results.

protip_icon Pro tip
Follow your favorite artist on Instagram and keep an eye on their tours. Big artists often travel and accept bookings in advance, making it possible to meet them and get yourself inked.

Even after reading numerous reviews, doubts about your tattoo may linger. While their portfolio may have given you a fair idea about the artist’s technical skill, talking to them can ease your tension about the tattooing process itself. Engaging in a conversation with the artist before the session can often provide reassurance and clarity on any uncertainties you may have. In instances where they are not available, they may even provide you with good recommendations. Keep reading to find out what to ask your tattoo artist before the session.

Questions To Ask A Tattoo Artist

A man asking questions to a tattoo artist
Image: Shutterstock
  • Ask about your potential artists’ experience regarding the specific style or type of tattoo you want.
  • Request to see their portfolio to assess the quality of their previous work.
  • Inquire about their hygiene practices to ensure a safe and clean environment.
  • Ask about how they maintain the cleanliness of the studio, including surfaces and furniture.
  • Seek information on the tattooing process, including how long it might take and any aftercare instructions.
  • If it matters to you, ask about the type of ink used, specifically if it is vegan or cruelty-free.
  • Discuss the estimated cost of your tattoo, keeping in mind that prices can vary.
  • Check for their availability and schedule to plan your tattoo session accordingly.
  • Ask to see photos of old and healed tattoos to gauge how well their work holds up over time.
  • Take the opportunity to address any doubts or concerns you may have about the tattoo.
  • Seek recommendations or suggestions from the artist based on their expertise.

Finding a skilled tattooist is key to bringing your body art vision to life. To recap, when considering what to look for in a tattoo artist, prioritize aspects such as reviews, portfolio quality, awards, hygiene, and studio location. Kickstart your ‘how to find a tattoo artist’ search by utilizing social media platforms like Instagram and portfolio websites, and do not hesitate to ask for recommendations from friends. Once you have narrowed down potential artists, schedule consultations to discuss your tattoo ideas, pricing, and any concerns you may have. Always remember that finding the right tattoo artist is important for a positive and satisfying experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I be concerned about the cost of the tattoo?

Yes, it is a valid concern. Quality tattoos often have a price, so stick to your budget but be cautious with extremely low prices. Investing in a high-quality tattoo from a reputable artist is usually worth the high price to achieve a satisfactory and lasting result.

Can I see the studio before getting a tattoo?

Yes, it is a reasonable request and some reputable tattoo studios usually welcome clients to visit and inspect the space before getting a tattoo. Once there make sure to check the cleanliness, organization, and overall comfort of the place to ensure you have a positive tattoo experience.

What should I consider when choosing a tattoo artist for a cover-up tattoo?

When selecting an artist for a cover-up tattoo, look for a proven track record in successful cover-ups showcased in their portfolio. Ensure the artist understands color theory for effective coverage. Also, creativity is necessary in transforming the old design into a new, appealing tattoo.

Key Takeaways

  • You may go for top-notch quality tattoo artists by relying on reviews, recommendations, awards, and portfolios.
  • Finalize your tattoo idea with a well-thought-out design, utilize social media for research, and schedule consultations with conveniently located studios.
  • Consider budget-friendly options, compare tattoo prices, and use location-based searches on social media and websites to find suitable artists.
  • You may also engage in pre-session discussions, posing essential questions regarding experience, portfolio, hygiene practices, and the tattooing process.

The choice of an artist can significantly impact the success of a tattoo. It can make or break the tattoo. Check out this video to learn how to look for a tattoo artist, including details like their location and tattooing style!

Personal Experience: Source

(i) The Little Story of My Tattoo

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