How to Find a Great Tattoo Artist

  • Written By Dan Hunter on May 11, 2023
    Last Updated: May 11, 2023

Finding a tattoo artist can be tricky if you don’t know where to start. You should consider several factors when choosing the best artist for your ink. Tattoos are for life, so selecting an artist is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Take your time and choose a tattoo artist you feel comfortable with. Make sure you have complete confidence in their abilities before getting started.

Consider the following factors to help you find somebody that is completely the right fit for your requirements.

How to Ensure You Choose a Good Tattoo Artist

Word of Mouth and Online Reviews

The first thing we advise you to do is to ask around. Speak to any friends or family members who have been inked.

Getting direct advice from people you know is a great place to start. If they had a good experience with a particular artist, then you have nothing to lose by contacting them for more information, either by phone, email, or walking into the shop. Even if you don’t find a great tattoo artist this way, it’s still worth asking, as you might be made aware of negative experiences and artists to avoid.

If you know somebody who’s been tattooed by an artist you like, check to see how their tattoo has stood the test of time. All tattoos fade, but if you see a particularly poor or faded one, you’ll be better positioned to pass on the artist.

Looking up an artist online can also give you good insights into the past experiences of others. Follow the artist you are interested in on Facebook or Instagram and read the comments and reviews. Message people who have already been inked by them and ask for their opinion. If the artist in question comes across as unprofessional, for example, if they blatantly tattoo underage clients, then it may be best to pass.

However, when it comes to looking at online reviews, be wary of everything you read. Some website recommendations are not always accurate, and many are posted anonymously. These may have been fabricated and posted in a bid to counterbalance any previous negative comments or reviews.

Work Portfolio & Images

Ask to see some of an artist’s previous work. There are a few key things to look for when going through an artist’s portfolio or looking at images of their work.

Check for smooth, solid lines that look as though they have been made in a single stroke. See how good their freehand tattooing is.

Look at the color and shading of their work and check for smooth, consistent colors. A tattoo artist with better skills or more experience should be able to demonstrate proper color gradients. If they can’t blend colors well, their skill level might also be lacking in other areas.

Finally, think about how you feel when looking through an artist’s work. Does looking at their previous work excite you about your future tattoo? Would you be happy to have a tattoo from their portfolio on your body permanently?

If you feel inspired and excited by their work, you will feel more comfortable having them tattoo you. The more confident you are in their ability, the better your experience with them will be.


Multiple awards are up for grabs yearly for tattoo artists across various countries. Look for an artist that has won an award or two. This will reflect their skill level and popularity, as most awards require votes from the public (previous clients).

Award-winning and popular artists are more likely to be booked up and very busy. If you hope to have an award-winning artist ink you, be proactive. Try to book in advance and be prepared to wait (the wait is almost always worth it).


Tattoo studios have evolved a lot over the decades, and the hygiene standards of a shop are an extremely important consideration. Poor hygiene can result in infections, blood poisoning, and Hepatitis A. It is really not worth compromising on cleanliness.

It is important that the artist wears gloves while they are working. The studio should be clean, with surfaces regularly wiped down after each client. Any plastic on chairs or beds should be changed after each customer.

The artist’s bench, ink box, and seat should be clean and organized. All needles, inks, and pots should be new for each client, with the needles coming straight from a sealed and sterile package.

If you are concerned about an artist’s or studio’s hygiene, get up and leave. Do not feel obliged to stay because you have made an appointment. It is the responsibility of the artist and studio to maintain optimal hygiene levels at all times.

There are various health, safety and hygiene courses available for tattoo artists to complete. If your artist of choice has hygiene certificates, this clearly indicates that they work hard to maintain their standards. Feel free to ask the studio or artist if they hold any current hygiene certifications. Having a hygiene record to be proud of is something many tattoo artists love to express.


Finally, consider the location of the studio your chosen artist works in. Make sure the studio you choose is a reasonable distance from your home, especially if you plan to get a larger tattoo that may take multiple sessions to complete.

What Are Some Warning Signs That a Tattoo Artist May Not Be Reputable or Trustworthy?

A reputable tattoo artist should have a professional portfolio displaying a variety of their work. If this isn’t readily available or showcases a lack of consistent quality, it’s a red flag. Hygiene is paramount in tattoo studios, so if the workspace is unsanitary or the artist doesn’t use new, sterilized needles, this could signal a lack of professionalism. Transparency is also key. Any artist unwilling to answer questions about their experience, processes, or the inks they use may not be trustworthy.

How Can I Find a Tattoo Artist Who Specializes in the Style or Design I Want?

A detailed online search can be an effective way to find a tattoo artist who specializes in your desired style. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and tattoo-specific websites can showcase artists’ work globally. You can assess their portfolios to gauge their proficiency in styles such as traditional, realism, watercolor, or tribal. Reading client reviews and testimonials can also offer valuable insights into an artist’s specialization and skills.

Should I Book a Consultation with a Tattoo Artist Before Committing to a Design?

Absolutely. Booking a consultation allows you to discuss your design ideas, ask pertinent questions, and assess the artist’s understanding of your vision. It’s an opportunity to evaluate their interpretative skills and their ability to create a design that resonates with your ideas. A consultation also helps you gauge your comfort level with the artist’s personality and working style, which can significantly influence your tattooing experience.

What Should I Consider When Choosing a Tattoo Artist for a Cover-Up Tattoo?

Choosing an artist for a cover-up tattoo requires careful thought. The artist should have a proven track record in successfully executing cover-ups, evident in their portfolio. They should demonstrate an understanding of color theory, as this plays a significant role in effectively covering up an old tattoo. Additionally, the artist’s creativity in transforming an existing design into a new, aesthetically pleasing tattoo is paramount. You should also consider their willingness to collaborate with you in creating a design that not only covers the old tattoo but also holds personal significance.

How Can I Tell if a Tattoo Artist is a Good Fit for My Personality and Style Preferences?

A good fit involves more than artistic style. While it’s crucial that the artist’s style aligns with your preferences, other factors like communication style, understanding of your vision, and general rapport are equally important. During initial consultations, assess how well the artist listens to your ideas, their enthusiasm in working with your design, and their willingness to provide input without overriding your preferences. Comfort and trust are essential in a successful client-artist relationship.


Finding a tattoo artist that meets all of the above criteria is not always easy, and there are plenty of bad artists around. However, it is most certainly worth the extra time, effort and travel needed to find a skilled professional.

Tattoos are for life, so it’s important that you end up with something you love. Not only should you be confident in your tattoo artist’s abilities, but you should also be happy with their workspace and hygiene standards.

The great thing about finding a truly experienced tattoo artist is that you can keep returning for more ink, knowing you’ll receive excellent service.

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.​

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