Dos and Don'ts
Wanna avoid common mistakes in your tattoo? Here's a few of them.
Research your artist
It's important to do your homework and find the right artist for the style you're after. If their work mostly looks like what you're after it's likely a good fit. If you've only seen a couple of their tattoos you like there's a good chance you won't like what they draw up.
Don't be afraid to ask to see healed work if you haven't seen their tattoos healed in person. Many tattoos look great on the internet these days but are highly edited photos taken in studio lighting, most reputable artists will have at least one healed example to show you how things settle.
Make sure things are clean
All Auckland based artists are required to have a health protection license and most should have first aid certificates, some may even have bloodborne pathogen training. If hygiene is a concern to you (which it probably should be) ask them about their process. As a general rule of basics: look for every surface used for tattooing being covered with a barrier like cling wrap or dental bibs, new needles being used and anytime they touch something outside of the work area they should be removing their gloves and replacing them with new ones after. Touching their phone, clothing, ink bottles etc with dirty gloves is cross contamination and a red flag.
Trust your artist
Once you've done your homework and you're confident they know what they're up to, trust them when they make suggestions.
It's common to recommend moving placement or increasing the size of the design to allow for the detail to age well. It's important to get the tattoo you want of course but if they make a suggestion with a reason take it on board, we don't suggest changes for no reason. Same goes for aftercare, we want our tattoos to heal well so will only give advice we think will help assist that process.
Narrow down your ideas
Too many ideas in a tattoo is the most common way to ruin it. If you have a small tattoo with 10 things in it it'll be messy and unreadable, choosing one or two of the most important elements will really let them shine and bring out the best in your tattoo idea/s. If you have too many ideas, just spread them out over multiple tattoos across your body!
Don't price shop.
Most of the top shops charge very similar rates of 160-220/hr with most being in the middle so there's not a lot to gain by shopping around, it's much better to shop by style and quality! If you're stuck looking for the right artist for a specific type of tattoo, most of the top shops/artists will be happy to offer recommendations if it's something that isn't their specialty. If you can't afford the tattoo you want just yet, save up, dont compromise. They're not cheap but they are forever.
Give as much information as possible when booking
The more we know about what you're after, the less emails we need to exchange and the more likely it is we'll nail the design first try.
Things to include in your inquiry: Tattoo imagery, style, approximate sizing, placement (a photo of the area and/or dimensions is helpful), if you'd like colour or not, if it's a cover up, if you're working to a budget, and what days/times suit you best.
Once you know what you want the tattoo to be of, you'll need to know how you want it to look.
Getting a tattoo drawn up is just like getting an art commission from your favourite artist, so of course it's important to find an artist whos work you love! Most artists specialise in one or two styles so learning some of the main ones can help you narrow down who will be best for what you're after.
There's two rules to sizing up a tattoo: Bigger is better, and size it to fit.
Bigger is better might sound like an upsell, but a lot of the time there's little to no extra work involved in scaling up a tattoo a bit, we just use bigger liners and shaders. The only time there's extra work involved is if we've made it bigger to accomodate the level of detail you want, because detailed tattoos DO require space.
Don't believe the micro-tattoo hype. As tattoos age, lines spread a little so a ton of tiny details right next to each other will blur into a mess. Tiny eyes will become egg shaped blobs, tiny lettering will become unreadable. It's important to consider the life of your tattoo and allow room for it to spread and grow a little as it ages.
Sizing it to fit basically just means fill the area you're going for. If you're putting a tattoo on the top of your thigh, treat that whole panel of your thigh as the canvas. While some people might just put a single dot in the middle of a canvas and call it done, most would consider it a waste of space. It also makes it very hard to extend later since the dot is right in the middle, so anything else you place around there needs to work around it. Keep small tattoos to small areas (wrist, ankle, behind the ear etc), keep bigger pieces to bigger areas, thigh, inner forearm, half sleeve etc. Doing a calf tattoo? fill the calf muscle 80-100%, not a small stamp in the middle of it.
The main thing to remember here is there is no wrong place to get a tattoo. However some imagery suits certain spots better than others so here's a few general rules.
Place symmetrical imagery on symmetrical areas.
Technically nowhere on the human body is symmetrical but areas like chest, stomach, top of thigh, back suit best for symmetry.
Avoid straight lines on high movement areas.
A lighthouse or sword works fine on a thigh or sternum but on a shoulder or knee they'll bend like pool noodles. Bendy imagery like snakes and flowers are better for high movement areas.
If you want a job stopper, have a stable career first.
Hand, neck and face tattoos are known as job stoppers since it can cost a lot of job opportunities in most industries. We generally don't do these until you're heavily tattooed and established in a long term career path.
Allow enough space.
Big imagery needs a lot of space. If you want a whole Japanese dragon from its head to tail, you'll need a full arm to do it justice and have it be a clear design that lasts well over time. If you're set on using less space like a half sleeve, you can still have a dragon, but it's best to focus on the upper body of it and imply the rest is hidden behind some clouds.
Layout mostly applies to planning large scale tattoos like sleeves and bodysuits, but since so few people only get one tattoo, I think it's important to consider a layout style you like. Having a layout in mind can help any future tattoos flow or connect well, without ruining any future plans by having to awkwardly work around what's already there.
While there are a ton of ways to layout a sleeve or bodysuit, I think there are four main layouts that work the best. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks which you can read about by clicking your favourite below.