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  • Nina Scott

Your Guide to Custom Tattoo Design: Tips, Tricks, and Pitfalls to Avoid


tattoo artists sketching a custom tattoo

Did you know that tattooing has a history spanning 6,000 years? When you engage with a tattoo artist, you're participating in an ancient tradition. How do you initiate the process if you're moving from pre-drawn or flash pieces to a custom design? Let's explore the steps to design a tattoo with your artist.


Choose Your Style

Familiarize yourself with various tattoo styles to articulate your preferences clearly. Each type has unique characteristics, from American Traditional, Fine Line, and New School to Neotraditional, Japanese Traditional, Realism, and Blackwork. Knowing your preferred style guides your selection of an artist and communication of your desires.


Pick Your Color Scheme

Decide whether you want color in your tattoo. While bold colors are recommended for longevity, pastels and watercolor tones are also options. Your style may influence your color choice, but feel free to discuss unique colors and combinations with your flexible tattoo artist.


Have a General Idea

Start with at least a vague idea. Whether matching existing tattoos or selecting a theme, having a baseline idea provides your artist with a starting point. If you have specific images in mind, offer clear instructions or reference images to convey your vision.


Consider Making an Inspiration Board

If you need clarification on your preferences, create an inspiration board using platforms like Pinterest or Tumblr. Collect images representing styles, themes, or subjects that appeal to you. This visual aid can help you identify elements you like.


Determine Tattoo Placement

Consider the location of your tattoo, as well as size limitations. While artists can switch locations, the size should be comparable. Discuss possible areas with your artist to ensure feasibility.


Sketching a Design – Yes or No?

Decide whether to sketch your design or let the artist handle it. Sketching can be beneficial if you have a hyper-specific idea. However, your tattoo artist is skilled, and providing a loose sketch or clear instructions is often sufficient.


Pick the Right Artist

  1. Take your time selecting an artist with experience in the style you desire.

  2. Check online portfolios and Instagram accounts to view their recent work.

  3. Ensure your chosen artist aligns with your artistic vision.


Be Clear About Your Wants

Provide your artist with ample information during the consultation. Include images of their past work, other tattoos you like (without expecting direct copies), and photos of your tattoos for context. Communicate your preferences and expectations.


Don't Hesitate to Ask for Changes

While some artists may reveal the finished design on the appointment day, you can request changes. Minor adjustments can often be accommodated on the same day, but significant alterations require a new appointment.


Work with your tattoo artist to create a custom design that resonates with your style and preferences. At Loyal Sparrow, our artists are eager to transform your ideas into unique tattoos. Connect with us on social media or fill out our contact form to initiate the tattoo design process.

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