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Written by Kieran

Choosing A Style

First Tattoo, Tattoo

In this 10 part series we’re going to look at the process of getting a tattoo for the first time.

We’ll cover everything from the initial decision process through to tattoo aftercare.

And we hope to help you choose a tattoo you’ll love for years to come. While saving you some money along the way.

In this issue we start with the first step which is choosing a tattoo style. We’ll dive into how you can get that first ‘inkspiration’.

We’re starting with ‘style’ because it’s the most essential element.

Before you walk into a tattoo shop for the first time you need to know the basics of what you want as a tattoo and where you’ll get the tattoo placed on your body. And we cover placement in Part Two of this series.

So, let’s start. 

How to choose a tattoo style?

In order to choose a tattoo style you need to look at a lot of pictures and get a feel for what you like.

By the time you enter a tattoo shop or start working with a tattooist you need to be certain of which style of tattoo and color palate you want on your body for years to come.

The best place to find images of quality tattoos is on Pinterest.

Head over to Pinterest and start with our board where we’re saving all the great tattoo sleeves we’ve found.

You might not want a tattoo sleeve, but it will give you an idea of colors and styles and it’s a great place to start.

As you start looking at and clicking on the images you like on Pinterest they will automagically start to show you visually similar images.

It’s a great place to hunt down styles and refine your tattoo ideas.

You should save at least 5 images to give to your tattooist once you’ve decided on style (Part One), decided on placement (Part Two), selected a tattoo studio (Part Three) and picked a tattoo artist (Part Four).

These 5 images you’re going to give to your future tattooist need to clearly convey the style of tattoo you want and clearly show the stylistic cues or elements.

The pictures need to demonstrate the color palate you like the most and the elements you’d like incorporated into your new tattoo.

You should be asking yourself whether you want flowers, koi, skulls, calligraphy, knuckle dusters, straight razors or any one of the infinite number of potential things that can be incorporated into a tattoo.

If you can picture it or get a picture of it a tattooist somewhere can ink it. So don’t be scared to select the images you like best. And don’t rush.

There’s no time limit on getting past this first step in the process. It isn’t a race.

Keep looking at images and collecting them until you’re absolutely certain you know what type of tattoo style and color combination you like.

Remember, a tattoo is permanent and you will be wearing this tattoo for years to come.  

Ask questions in the comments where somebody has posted a picture of a tattoo you like

Artists posting photos of their work and clients showing off their tattoos online are always happy to discuss tattoos.

Ask in the comments who the artist was and what the style is. Then search some more.

Learn about the particular styles of the tattoos you’ve seen images of on online and that you like.

Use the responses you get from your questions online to hunt down more answers and narrow your stylistic preferences.

You need to know the terms associated with the tattoos you like. For example are they old school, new school, traditional or Irezumi. Was the tattoo done in tebori, with a conventional tattoo gun or a new school rotary. Is the tattoo solid color or did the artist use grey-wash.

The more questions you can answer about the tattoos you like then the easier the next steps in the process become. 

What happens if you don’t know which style you want when you make a tattoo booking?

Not knowing the style of tattoo you want and not having narrowed down the details of your future tattoo before booking a tattoo appointment usually spells disaster.

You’ll waste the tattooists time. Annoy the tattoo artist. Or worse yet you may wind up with a tattoo you’re not happy with.

Tattooists only get paid while they’re tattooing. They generally don’t get paid while they’re standing around dealing with clients who have no idea what they want. And this can be utterly frustrating for them.

Clients who know what they want and have come to their shop to make a booking because its a tattoo that the particular artist is known to do well, is the optimal situation.

When a client knows what they want (Part One), where they want it (Part Two) and has selected their shop (Part Three) and them (Part Four) because they know the shop and artists reputation the artist will be super happy to meet you and book your appointment.

When you wander in off the street with no idea what tattoo you want and try to take up all their time for free, you will just annoy the artist off.

So do your homework first.

And once you’ve got the style narrowed down then look at Part Two, deciding on tattoo placement. 

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