How to Ask a Tattoo Artist to Design Your Tattoo

On the surface, the question of “How to ask a tattoo artist to design your tattoo” may seem like an odd one to some. Isn’t that their job, after all? For those who do custom tattoos, it certainly is. However, the reason that so many prospective clients wonder about how to approach a tattooist about their desired work of body art is steeped in the fact that many people feel intimidated by tattoo artists. Some people have had some bad experiences with a lack of patience and rudeness, which is something that SOH has pledged to change in the industry. To avoid this concern, you can reference these guides for What to Look for in a Tattoo Artist and How to Choose a Tattoo Studio. All of that aside, there are some steps that you can take to improve communication between yourself and an artist so that they better understand the vision you have for your tattoo. Below are simple steps to making that happen.

3 Simple Steps to Asking a Tattooist to Design the Tattoo You Actually Want

Decide Upon a Tattoo Style Ahead of Time

Tattoo style is different from design. The latter relates to the subject that the tattoo will be of while the former references the general look of the tattoo. Some may call this the “chicken or egg” debate in tattooing. Do you need to know what design you want before selecting the style? Or should you decide upon style first? For those who want to know how to ask a tattoo artist to design your tattoo (which is what brought you to this article) we suggest deciding upon the latter first. For one, understanding what style you prefer can dictate which artist you should work with. While there are certainly Jacks and Janes of all styles, every tattooist has a style they specialize in. Furthermore, many tattoo  designs work better when done under certain styles than others. View our guide for How to Choose a Tattoo Style which will offer you (and your future tattooist) the clarity you need.

“Scrapbooking” a General Idea of Design

The more clearly you can communicate what tattoo you want to your tattooist, the easier it will be for them to turn your vision into a reality. You don’t have to know exactly what design you want, but we do recommend that you “scrapbook” ideas to present to them. Honestly, this is the FUN part!

Set aside at least two hours, grab a coffee or cocktail (or both), and sit down with your laptop to scroll through images of artistic renderings regarding the general design and subject you desire. Direct tattoo examples are great, but you can also use photos from real life subjects, drawings, paintings, and whatever else comes up on your numerous Google, Pinterest, and Instagram searches. You don’t need to find one image that encompasses it all, as your scrapbooking of ideas can borrow small elements that when combined can form a whole. For example, if you want a rose tattoo, you may like the way the pedals look on one image, but prefer the stem and coloring of a rose on two other images, and the background of yet another image. Go ahead and compile all four (for example) and bring this to your tattoo artist to communicate exactly what you admire about each. This will help them truly see what your vision is and deliver the goods accordingly.

Schedule a Consultation

Lastly, schedule a consolation. That’s what it’s for. Choose a studio that is known for being welcoming, patient, and more-than-willing to listen to exactly what their clients desire. If located within or visiting the BC Lower Mainland, be sure to schedule your consultation at our downtown Vancouver studio.



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Sleight of Hand

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