How to Get a Custom Tattoo

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 6, 2020
    Last Updated: December 26, 2020

While it’s fun to look through artists’ portfolios for new tattoos, custom tattoos make for more unique body art. Maybe you already know what you want to get, but are not sure how it should look. You might not even know what your budget for time or money should be. On that note, we’ll go step-by-step on how to acquire a perfect completely customized tattoo, while getting the most out of your time and money.

Gather Reference Images For Your Design

You’ll want to round up some reference photos or drawings to assist you. You can make the tattoo as simple or complex as you like: remember, this is your tattoo! Consult Google Images, Instagram or Pinterest for ideas.

You can ask your tattoo artist for some assistance, though giving the artist a window into your head is better than vaguely telling them you want a tattoo.

Finally, you should decide what kind of art style and color palette your tattoo will have. Knowing your desired genre will help you choose a tattoo artist later.

Choose a Tattoo Artist to Help You

Once you’ve completed your drawing or mood board, find a tattoo artist to draw-up and help translate the drawing to your body. Your tattoo might look good as a regular design, but it’ll likely curve on your body. The tattooist should re-draw your design, so it looks good on your desired location of your body. The tattoo artist should also work with similar art styles as your preferred design. 

You can find tattoo artists through good old-fashioned research. However, if you know people with tattoos in the style you are looking for, ask them which tattoo artist helped them. On the contrary, if someone does not have a good tattoo, ask about that artist so you might avoid them.

It’s essential to choose an artist that matches the style of your desired design. You can choose any artist you wish if you want a variation of another design. For custom designs, the more specific you are with considering an artist’s particular style, the better.

If you’d like, schedule a consultation with the artists you’re interested in. Each meeting might cost a little money, though you’ll feel reassured after discussing your design with the right artist.

Budget for Potential Redraws or Changes

Depending on your artist, a custom tattoo can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. 

While you need to discuss the final drawing with your artist heavily, sometimes, you might request redraws or touch-ups before inking. In that case, make sure you’ve budgeted for those fixes. Remember that the time spent on your drawing will cost you. You should also put some money in your budget to tip the artist for all of their hard work.

Have Patience and Take Your Time Choosing

Depending on the tattoo artist you choose, there may be a waiting list for their services. If you have confidence in their services, be patient and put yourself on the list. If you must pay a deposit, go ahead and put it down. Keep in mind that good tattoos, especially custom tattoos, cost a pretty penny

You should be sure to factor in a studio’s cleanliness. A clean studio is a mark of how sanitary their tools are and how they care for their customers. You can ask about their maintenance log or ask what types of needles the shop uses, whether it’s one-time disposable needles or autoclaves.

Take into consideration that the tattoo artist won’t usually begin work on your design until you’ve paid the deposit. If you don’t want to pay for a quality design, you can consider hiring an outside artist. Don’t try to haggle costs with your tattoo artist as this is considered disrespectful to their art. 

Work Together With Your Artist

Remember that the tattoo artist is not just there to make your dream tattoo. If they have suggestions about translating your design into a visually-stunning workable tattoo, take their recommendations with grace. They want to help create the best possible tattoo, not mess around with your artistic vision. Bear in mind, they are the professionals with plentiful experience- they likely know what they are talking about!

Don’t be demanding of your tattoo artist. They are busy people with a schedule and do not have time to keep up with changing designs and petty demands. Make sure your design is exactly what you want before the inking begins.

You want to communicate with your artist about your final vision, though don’t send them fifty emails about other little things. Remember, you’re not the only customer they’re working with right now.


Getting a custom tattoo is not difficult if you are patient and choose the right tattoo artist. It might be a costly venture, but in the end, it can be well worth it. Plus, you’ll have a memory that will last you a lifetime.

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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