Looking for the right tattoo artist can be seriously daunting. There’s practically as many tattoo parlors on each corner as there are Starbucks.
And the consistency, quality, service and competency are never the same. There are some amazing artists and parlors (like 2 Spirit Tattoos) and some that really shouldn’t be in the business at all (I won’t name anyone at this point).
I’ve struggled with this myself because I want the best work done and why shouldn’t you settle for anything less than the best for your body?
However, unless you’re able to travel at a moments notice anywhere in the world, we are often tied to our own locale. So finding someone nearby is optimal and more affordable.
With so many options where do I start?
Often people will chose an artist or shop based on a review from a friend or someone sporting a tattoo they really dig. This is not a bad way to get options. References put you one step closer to a good artist.
Here are some additional ways I go about it these days:
If the timing is right go to a local Tattoo Expo
At the expo you will see artists both local and from other locations allowing you to get an understanding for what is possible to create on the skin. You’ll get a buffet of styles, personalities, and cost ranges. Take time to review the artist’s portfolio, talk to them and ask them questions and present your vision to see how they might approach it.
For example, I’ve gone to the Seattle Tattoo Expo recently. I reviewed the artist list of who is attending and scoped out who I wanted to talk to first. But be aware these expos can be a bit overwhelming. There are a lot of hardcore tattoo and body piercing professionals and followers. All a great bunch of people yet it can be intimidating.
If you can’t get to an expo or one isn’t happening in your area, go online and search for one in other locations. Review their artists and check out each artist’s website and portfolio there. At many of these expos, artists from your own city or state will travel to attend.
The internet is an amazing place to find artists and their online portfolios. With this route you get to hang around in your birthday suit at home and still gather tons of information…like you’re doing right now.
I would search for these topics:
- Top Tattoo Shops in [insert your city or state]
- Top Tattoo Artists in [insert your city or state]
- Top Tattoo Artists doing [insert tattoo style]
Follow specific tattoo blogs like my own.
Some blogs I really respect are:
This is truly an amazing tattoo site which I go to often to find the best and brightest of tattoo artists. This by far is my favorite.
Great articles and imagery. I follow the blog.
Fun blog with interesting articles
Read the Tattoo Trade Mags
I read a number of really informative ink magazines.
- Skin Deep
Many of these magazines provide interviews with the artists which allows you to get into their head a bit. It’s one of those things I pretty much consume because it allows me to connect with their work.
Don’t be in a hurry
Everyone will tell you this. Getting a tattoo, the right tattoo for you, takes time and many of the good artists are booked up months in advance. Think about your design, collect example images, take notes, save your money, and think about body placement. Get these things down first.
Once you have these things and a consult appointment, then you want to be prepared for that initial meeting with the artist.
Read my next post around meeting with your artist.