Coming Up With Original Tattoo Ideas

  • Written By Dan Hunter on August 17, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Boy is it frustrating trying to come up with tattoo ideas. Why is it always somebody else that thinks up all of these amazing ideas, but yet you can’t seem to come up with a single one?

Well, they might have been in that same boat, taking them years to settle on their final idea.

Before you give up hope, we have some important pointers for designing a unique tattoo that’ll be the perfect fit for you.

Here’s how to come up with an original tattoo idea:

  • Understand why you want a tattoo
  • Know what it’ll represent
  • Decide where it’ll be
  • Choose a style
  • Research extensively
  • Include your personality
  • Be flexible
  • Talk to your artist

Building an Original Design

It sounds quite daunting, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be! Everyone is different, and we all have our interests and emotions. Your personality is unique to you.

Use this to your advantage by bringing your character into your ideas. You’ll likely end up with an original design without even realizing it.

Think About Why You Want a Tattoo

This is a good place to start. You should know what you want to achieve from your tattoo. You also need to think about the reasons why you’re getting it. 

There doesn’t always have to be a deep and meaningful story behind why you’re doing this. Perhaps it’ll simply be for decoration? That’s completely fine. All reasons are valid and will provide you with a starting point for your designs. 

What Will It Represent?

This is a key point when considering originality. It’s a very personal decision. Once you’ve decided why you’re getting a tattoo, you can think about what you want it to convey.

Within art, some motifs have meanings attached to them. For example, a phoenix is a bird that rises from the ashes, as if through resurrection. This can symbolize a new beginning. Not all tattoos have a meaning, but a motif can help to express your individuality.

Decide on the Location

The location of your tattoo will have a bearing on the design you eventually choose. You’ll need to think about:

  • Who you want to see your tattoo
  • How different areas affect the way a tattoo can be drawn

A tattoo for decoration might be something you’re happy for everyone to see. A tattoo bearing the name of a loved one is perhaps something to keep more private. 

Your artist will advise you on the location of a tattoo. For example, your back is a relatively flat surface compared to your arm. Some designs will need a flat canvas, while others can be worked on to more challenging locations. 

Your Choice of Style

The style that you choose is a way of expressing your character. Some styles will be colorful, and others, very detailed. Research different ideas to see which style is best suited to you. You can then incorporate this into your design. 

If you can’t decide on just one style, talk to your artist about combining multiple styles. You’re free to be creative with your tattoo. 

Do Your Research

Nobody expects you to come up with a design without doing some research first. Even artists need inspiration. Search online or use books to explore different ideas for your design.

Widen Your Search

A common mistake people make is only researching tattoo designs. This may narrow your mind as you only see the result. Instead, approach your search with a mind to find inspiration. This can come from anywhere:

  1. Colors
  2. Patterns
  3. Shapes
  4. Cultures

View Your Artist’s Portfolio

Tattoo artists usually specialize in certain designs, which will mean they have a lot of experience in this area. Ask your artist to view their portfolio. You’ll soon be able to see your artists preferred style. With this in mind, you can incorporate this into your design.

Using the strengths of your artist means, together, you can create something new and interesting. 

Include Your Personality

This is an assured method when it comes to creating an original design. We’ve already established that everyone is different. Therefore, adding your personality to your tattoo will result in a design that’s unique to you. 

Be Flexible

Keep in mind that changes will probably be made throughout the design process. This is good. Every adjustment will take you closer to the perfect tattoo. If you keep an open mind, you might discover new and better ideas to include in your design. 

Talk to an Artist

When you’ve completed your research and have some ideas, it’s time to talk to your artist. They’ll understand that you want something unique. Explain to them why you want a tattoo and what you want it to represent. Show them any references that you’ve found.

It’s beneficial to listen to the advice of your tattoo artist as they have experience. They’re called artists for a reason. Their creativity is key to helping you achieve a unique design.

What to Avoid

There are a few traps that you’ll want to avoid falling into when designing your tattoo.

Don’t Rush Your Research

Once you’ve decided to get a tattoo, you should be excited. It’s tempting to want to rush through the preparation, so try to avoid this. An original idea takes time to develop, and you’ll need to gather inspiration from a variety of different sources. 

Plus, your tattoo will be with you for a long time, so it’s important to get it right! 

Avoid Fixating on Being Original

We’ve all been in a situation when we’re concentrating on something so much that it has a negative effect. Try not to focus too much on being original. I’m not telling you that you should just go and get a flash tattoo, but know that you are allowed to draw influence from other things you see around you, and still remain original.

Trying to come up with something 100% absolutely one of a kind can impede your ability to come up with something great, solid, and still very individualistic.

The process shouldn’t be forced. Allowing it to develop naturally will be far more beneficial to you.

An Original Idea

Designing a custom and original tattoo is a fun and creative process. Start by understanding your motives and preferences and then research thoroughly. Accumulate your ideas and take them to your tattoo artist. Listen to their opinions, and together, you can create something truly original, like a completely custom sleeve tattoo.

When you eventually go ahead with getting your dream tattoo, it’s imperative that you always follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare advice closely, and be sure to invest in a high-quality tattoo healing lotion to aid recovery.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan-friendly aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated, but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times, and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.​

Enjoy yourself, and your ideas will reflect your enthusiasm. Your tattoo will have the individuality it deserves, and at least then you’ll have no chance of being sued for tattoo copyright!

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