- Famous Tattooed People
- What is a GOOD tattoo?
- Deciding on a design
- My kid wants a tattoo
- Finding an artist
- Finding a shop
- In Preparation
- Surrender to the moment
- The process of tattooing
- Permanent Cosmetics
- The school of tattoo
- Glossary of terms
What is a GOOD tattoo?
A clean tattoo is a tattoo that appears neat and crisp. lt has good line quality. The shading is well thought out and smooth. The composition is pleasing to the eye. The size is appropriate for the longevity of the piece and the placement is working with the body, not against it. lf you learn to look at tattoos and assess if they are clean or not, you will be able to pick a good artist based on his work.
2. Line quality
Line quality means that the lines are smooth and flow from one thickness to another. Choppy uneven lines, lines that look dotted, when they are clearly not meant to be dotted, show poor line quality. Good solid lines are the foundation of almost every tattoo. If the foundation is weak, the overall design will be weak. Ghosts around lines, raised, or scarred lines are bad.
3. Color & shading
Shading should be smooth and not choppy. There should be a nice gradient. The shading should be effective. This means that it should make whatever you’re looking at, believable. Color should be smooth, without a lot of holidays. The color should be well chosen. Patchy color is bad. Partial coloring is fine if the uncolored part enhances the finished product. It’s nice to let a little skin show through and not go for total coverage after all, it is called ‘skin art’. Bolder lines make the color appear bolder. Thinner lines make the color look more delicate. Color needs something to contrast against. If the lines are thinner the color is contrasting mainly with your skin tone and will appear mellower.
lf you have bold lines the color is contrasting with the black and the overall appearance is bolder. The color should be thorough.
Do you like color? Are you a sun worshipper? Do you like tribal designs? Are you willing to wear sun block every time you go into the sun? If you aren’t sure maybe you should consider black and gray. The shading is different for this style of tattoo. If you get a black and gray tattoo it is not advisable to color it later. You should figure out what you want. If you were to color a black and gray tattoo the color can look muddy. This is because instead of putting down color on bare skin the artist would be putting color down over gray skin, and some of the gray will show through. The lighter the base is that color is applied to, the brighter it will appear in the finished tattoo. So make up your mind, and stick to it.
Is the tattoo an entity unto itself? Does it look finished? Is it balanced? No one can tell you what you are going to like artistically because we all have things we like that are different from things other people like. You can look at a tattoo critically and see bad or flawed composition. For example if someone had a heart tattoo with a banner in an odd place, you’d notice that something was not quite right about the tattoo. You would notice that the balance was off even if you didn’t catch why.
Size is important because, unlike paper or canvas, skin as an artistic substrate has its own challenges. As a natural part of the healing process the lines on a tattoo spread, just a little, but enough to make a mess out of a too small tattoo. lf you are looking at, for example, a rose the size of a nickel, and it is very line intensive, and all of the lines spread, just a little, the tattoo will look like a 8 ball with a stem in a year. You should also consider where it is you are getting the tattoo when you think about size. An ankle or wrist is the perfect place for a small tattoo. lf you are a big buff body builder you’ll look kind of silly with a quarter sized superman emblem on your big old’ guns.
Do you care who sees your tattoo‘? Do you have restrictions or dress codes that our employer determines? Are you going to be involved in a career where visible tattoos would be inappropriate? Do you plan on getting pregnant?
Keep in mind that wherever you decide to get your tattoo, you don’t want it to compete with the body part. It should flow with the body.
Head. The head is usually not a place that people get tattooed. The reason that most people avoid the head is that it is generally covered with hair, and if you tattoo it would be hard to hide if necessary. Some bald people will get their heads tattooed, but then face a life of hats or explaining themselves to the rest of the world. The general public does not look at people with head tattoos like they are sane and positive members of society. Most people would consider tattooing of the head as an antisocial and crazy act. On the front of the head is the face. This part is avoided for the most part unless the person wants permanent cosmetics. Tattooing the face has many social taboos and cannot be covered easily unless you want to start wearing a ski mask everywhere and that may concern business owners that you patronize.
Arms. Arms are the most common parts that people tattoo. When a person has his entire arm tattooed it is called a sleeve. The elbow skin is pretty resistant to tattoo ink, as the skin there is rougher and made to protect that joint. The outer arms and forearms are relatively painless and are very popular for tattoos. The inner arm is a bit more sensitive, as I’m sure anyone with a tattoo there will quickly inform you. There has been a trend in the last few years to tattoo the armpit. Go figure. I imagine that area would hurt and not be the most rewarding area to have tattooed.
Hands. Most artists avoid tattooing the hands and fingers. This is because the skin, like that of the elbow, is meant to be utilitarian, and is not conducive to great tattoos. It is also impossible to cover unless you wear gloves. A lot of people look down upon people with tattooed hands, as it is associated with gangs and gang tattoos. Although a tattoo artist is not in business to be your conscience, most people do not imagine the ramifications of tattooed hands, so the artist is left to think to the years ahead for them.
It takes a lot of convincing to get me to tattoo a person’s hands. l tattooed my friend’s hands after he talked to me about what he was going to do with his life, and generally convinced me that tattooed hands would not ruin his chances at a fulfilling life. I have been able to see how they have aged, and based on this alone, l would not recommend tattooing hands or fingers. I made sure of my line quality, and did my best job. They looked beautiful for a couple of months. It wasn’t long, however, before the lines started to fade. It has been several years now and the tattoos are very weathered looking. The lines across the knuckles are almost completely gone. He wanted rings tattooed on his fingers and they were the first to go. The skin there is not the greatest for the purpose of tattooing There is a very small area on each finger that can be tattooed successfully, about 3/4″ tall by 1/2″ wide. Because it is so small, though, it is not worth the trouble or the stigma attached.
Legs. Legs are popular as well for those who have run out of space on their arms. A lot of people get ankle tattoos and the calf is very popular as well. The nice thing about legs for the tattoo artist is that the skin is a lot like arms and generally bigger and not as weathered. l guess the big advantage with leg tattoos is that they only show when you want them to. I have seen beautiful leg sleeves, or should l say stockings‘?
The feet are another place that most tattoo artists resist tattooing because of the nature of the skin there. The toes are notorious for tattoos that are too small and look really crappy over time. I have never seen a good toe tattoo. They mostly look mushy and blurry.
Chest. People get their chests tattooed with things that they’d like to keep close to their hearts. People also like to put decorative things there because they can see them first hand and appreciate the tattoos there. It is a pretty popular area. I have five Chinese bats tattooed on my chest. l like how it looks with the cleavage. Someday l hope to add some clouds, but tattooing the chest hurts me, and I’m a wuss.
Abdomen. This area is not very popular as it is pretty painful, and most people try to avoid accentuating this area. A big belly with a big tattoo sure is fun to look at though.
Bikini. This area is very popular with the ladies. It is not advisable to get a tattoo here if you are planning to get pregnant. If you are female and planning on having children you should wait until you are finished breeding to get a tattoo on your bikini line. A lot of young women like the idea of a bikini area tattoo – sexy.
The process of tattooing creates a weak spot in the skin, so if there are going to be stretch marks. They will find that tattoo. Tattoos don’t jiffy pop too well! If you get a stretch mark through a line in your tattoo, it will take a very creative artist to fix it or cover it with something else. One of my customers got a Tweetybird on her bikini line when she was 18. When she got pregnant later her tattoo was looking like it would be fine. Along came that fatal 6th month and boom! Tweety got a stretch mark right through one side of his head. Now she has a tattoo of Tweetybird that looks like he was suicidal or he has a big tumor on his head. I keep trying to think of what she could do to keep the bird but lose the tumor and all I have been able to come up with is to put a big flowery hat on Tweety’s head.
I have young women that come into my shop every day and ask about the bikini line and l inform them of the risks. Some of them still risk it though. I can only advise and coming from a place a little older and wiser with a lot more experience in the subject matter, you’d think more people would listen.
Back. Possibly the most popular area to get a tattoo. The back is an enormous canvas for a tattoo artist. We are used to working on much smaller areas. When a person comes in and wants a large tattoo on her back, it makes us so happy because we can work in a larger format. Some folks just want small tattoos on their backs, and that’s ok too. The downside to getting your back tattooed is that you can never see it unless you are looking into a mirror.
The lower back is a sexy spot and is not affected too much by weight gain or loss. This is why it is so very popular for tattoos. Usually done in a ‘v’ shape, it is a great place for optical illusion. Eyes are drawn to the point of the ‘v’ and that makes the waist appear smaller, while the wings of the ‘v’ round out the buttock area On men we usually do a less severe ‘v’ shape, and pointing to the guys butt is never a bad thing. I especially like this area because it allows girls to get tattoos a little larger than they usually would on other pans of the body.
Buttocks. The buttocks are a good place for those more private tattoos. Don’t expect it to hurt less than other places because it‘s fatty. Your momma didn’t spank you there because it felt good. I’ve always wanted to tattoo pretty green oriental style clouds on someone’s behind. I like funny tattoos.
Genitals. There will always be those people who want their genitalia tattooed. In some instances it has to do with their obsession with their own stuff. I guess if you have to be obsessed with something, this is a good place for an obsession. I don’t mind tattooing genitals as long as the person isn’t too creepy. You can expect to pay a ‘handling fee‘ for genital tattoos. I know that you don’t mind handling your own genitalia, however, it is a difficult area to tattoo and I may not be too excited about holding on to your crank for an hour or so. It is especially nerve racking. not to mention distracting, when a man gets erect off and on throughout the procedure. I think a handling fee is completely appropriate because it lets your artist know that you want a tattoo and not a cheap painful sexual experience. I’m not judging anybody. Whatever floats your boat. I just don’t have to go on that cruise with you.