If you’ve read my blog before you might have noticed that I like to make posts about tattoos. I’ve previously made a post that is a rough guideline on some tattoo tips for getting your first tattoo, but as I like discussing the topic so much I thought I’d start a series of basically informing you of everything I can about tattoos. From choosing your design (this post) to different styles, aftercare, dealing with the judgemental and unmodified and everything in-between. I already have some topics planned for this series but if you’d like to suggest any, please leave a comment below as I’d be happy to hear them! You can also check out more of my tattoo related posts under the Categories tab at the top.
Let’s Get Started
If you’re considering getting a tattoo then the first thing you’ll need is to perfect your idea. If you’re already semi/quite heavily tattooed you probably won’t care to read this (or maybe you will), but it’ll most likely be more helpful to those of you who are looking at getting your first tattoo, or those who struggle with ideas. Deciding on your first few tattoos can be a lot more daunting as it creates more of an impact. When you already have quite a lot of tattoos another addition won’t go as noticed. This can put more pressure on the design being perfect and making sure you won’t regret it. A good suggestion I’ve always heard is to carry the design with you for 6 – 12 months before deciding to get it. You could also put it where you would see it every day such as your bedroom wall or desktop background. If you still like it, do it. If you don’t, it’s probably time to start thinking of something else.
Sadly I can’t tell you what tattoo would be perfect for you, although when I’ve gone 5 months without feeling inspired, I sometimes wish it was that easy. Here are some tips to help you decide what to get…
Pick A Theme
Start basic by deciding on your topic/theme, easy right? But what if you’re unsure, where do you look? Its common to try to sum everything up about yourself, picking out your hobbies, interests, characteristics. While that is often a good path to go down, consider if that might change in the future. Will you still be straightedge or horse riding in 10 years time and regret it if you aren’t?
Now that we have the internet the obvious place is to go straight to either Pinterest, Instagram, Google Images and Tumblr (if you still use it). I mostly search through my favourite tattoo artist’s Instagrams to draw subject ideas and see what pops out at me. It could be a dagger, animal, cupcake. I like to follow artists that take basic themes and enhance them further to help encourage creativity (Merry Morgan is a good example of this). If you don’t know any good artists then try searching for pages such as Blackworkers that post some of the best of the best, or tattoo convention pages. Try either delving into the internet deeper, checking more than just the first couple pages of results and mixing up your search for better results.
Now, if you still feel lost, try thinking outside of the box and draw inspiration from the things around you. Take a notebook to a museum and write down anything that captures your attention, or write in your phone about the graffiti you liked/something you saw on the person you passed in the street.
While it may not be to your taste, a lot of people find inspiration in music too. If you’re thinking ‘but I don’t want lyrics written across my ribs’, that isn’t the only option. With a little bit of creativity you can turn a song title/lyrics you enjoy into a beautiful piece of art. It doesn’t have to be the first band you saw live, or your favourite song from when you 13 (although it could be), hell you don’t even have to care about the band, think of it more as another source for inspiration. Pick a song that captures your attention and see what it is you like about it. Does the title capture your attention when scrolling on Spotify? Do you connect with a line of lyrics? Does it have a pretty album cover? Try listening to the song and closing your eyes, think of how the song makes you feel and what you imagine when hearing the song. For instance:
- More obvious: I have a tattoo idea in mind to commemorate the song Burn MF – Five Finger Death Punch, and would consider doing so with fire, lighters, candles, matches, and use this for my design search.
- Less obvious: Don’t try to fight the storm, you’ll tumble overboard, tides will bring me back to you – Deathbeds, Bring Me The Horizon. For this I would consider a ship in a storm, or maybe even a storm in a china teacup. If you wanted to relate to the song you could have deathbeds written in cursive on the cup. If not relating to the song then leave it out and nobody would assume this is where you took your inspiration.
Research, Research, Research
This is always the key tip most people will tell you when asking for advice about tattoos, and you’ll probably get sick of hearing me talk about it. But if you’re after a perfect, one-of-a-kind piece you’ll have to put in the work, and don’t worry it’ll be worth it. There are many people who will now take their theme idea, search ‘___ tattoo’ into google, take the first that pops up into a local shop and have an exact copy made. This is wrong, yet controversial. I’ll most likely make a separate post about stealing tattoo designs if you’re interested in this topic more, but you basically want to find a design that would be perfect for you and not just steal someone else’s. Art can always be improved and altered to fit you better. This includes flash so if you find something you like, try taking a photo of it and following the next step.
Now you have your theme idea you’re going to want to go back through the internet compare styles, designs, artists, compositions etc. Is there a design that’s bought another element into it? A burning body in the fire, or a ship in the storm of the teacup? Maybe you’ve found an image of a teacup with roses but you prefer it in the style of blackwork? Focus on different elements of the tattoo. See how the design might look in different styles, colours, shading (light, dark, dotwork) and compositions. My artist designed one of my tattoos from a picture of a bear sitting.
Save any images that capture your attention and combine them in one place. Making a Pinterest board or an album on your phone will make it a lot easier to weed out ones that you no longer like, and pick out the elements you do like. Narrow it down as much as you can, but still give your artist multiple images to work with. If you’re combining designs or changing the composition you could make a rough photoshop edit of it (something I’ve done twice before). I described in my message what I wanted and my artist printed it out with notes made on the design I sent her.
Now that you know what you want your design to be, you’ll need to think of the placement. For some people this is easier to do first, but it often depends on the person and the design. If it’s your first couple then this shouldn’t be too hard as you have many options. If you’re planning on being heavily/more tattooed in the future then you’ll definitely want to take this into consideration by not putting a small design in the way of something you want bigger later on. Try to find a place where the design flows with the curves and lines of your body.
One thing I like to do is to conduct searches similar to traditional leg tattoo sleeve or tattooed girl legs. This inspires me for creating my idea for how I want my overall leg to look, where to place the big key tattoos and the smaller fillers. For example, conducting searches like this helped me decide that I wanted a thigh piece on the top, not the side of my thigh. That I wanted something going straight down my shin rather than wrapping around. And that I wanted a traditional cat on my knee, preventing me from putting anything in the way of these places. Remember to save these images to your phone and come back to them for future reference.
You could also take photos of your leg and photoshop a rough design on the top (I’ve done this before). This helps when working around other designs or to give you an idea of how it might look on yourself. Alternatively, and my most used idea is to do a rough drawing/tracing of your design, cut it out and play around with it in different positions. Good luck, leave a comment of the next tattoo you want to get in the comments!
I hope these tips helped you in some way. If you have any requests for posts in my tattoo series please leave them below and I’ll be sure to make them. Don’t forget to follow me on Bloglovin‘, Instagram or Twitter to keep up to date with new posts in this series too! Thanks for reading, April.