Questions To Ask A Tattoo Artist Before Getting Tattooed

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 11, 2020
    Last Updated: November 20, 2020

When you plan to get inked, you need to make sure you’re as informed as possible. Tattoos can be scary, especially if it’s your first time, but it’s best to get all of your questions answered beforehand to make it as straightforward and comfortable as possible.


Questions You Should Ask

How Long Have You Been Working as a Tattoo Artist?

Before getting inked, it is crucial to have a good understanding of your artist’s qualifications. Asking them how long they have been honing their craft is vital to understanding their preparation level for what you are about to ask them. 

It would be best if you had a good idea of their skill level, especially since tattooing requires a myriad of skills, including understanding CPR and first aid, concentration skills and attention to detail, artistic integrity, and more. 

Many tattoo artists also work an apprenticeship before working at a tattoo parlor, which adds more experience to their belt. Artists often take years to build their portfolio and practice their craft. 

Tattooing in a shop is not an easy position to achieve, and it usually requires years of experience and training to be hired. There is also the matter of trying out different methods and styles to develop their unique skills as a tattoo artist.

 There are many tattoo styles to learn, such as the old-school style of simple line-work, low detail, and primary colors. There is also the newer style that involves bright, modern colors and shading work. Realism is also a popular style of tattoo. 

Regardless, it is essential to remember that tattooing is an art form and a permanent one at that. Ensure that your artist is qualified for the design and style that you have in mind.

What Styles Do You Prefer? 

Most artists that have been tattooing for a fair amount of time also develop a personal style when drawing tattoos. Asking an artist what their typical designs look like and what they prefer to do with their art style is essential when getting a sense of how capable they will be when inking the tattoo that you are looking for. 

This can also let you make sure that their art style is one you enjoy and could picture being on your body. If it isn’t for you, that is best to know before you have put down a tattoo deposit. 

There are many different styles of tattoo and reasons for getting them inked on you. You might want a tattoo simply because it is fun, and you like the look of a design. Alternately, the tattoo might be sentimental and connects you to cherished memories or people in your life. 

Whatever the reason may be, you should have a clear idea of what you are looking for to make the process as easy as possible for both you and your artist.

 Do You Have a Portfolio? 

Many artists are happy to show off their original designs, the tattoos they have inked over time, and their most prized work.

Many artists have social media accounts that provide a good sense of their style and the types of tattoos they excel in and prefer to do. These can also help you decide if theirs is the design style that you are envisioning.

Their designs can sometimes be found in tattoo flash, which are design prints made by an artist that tend to be visible on the walls of their studio or in a book. 

What Methods of Tattooing Do You Provide? 

Different tattooing methods can vary between the Western techniques of machine-inked or hand-poked tattoos. There is also the option of international methods, which often involve using instruments and pointed tools. Some tattoos also have cultural and identity-based significance, such as tattoos’ value to many Indigenous communities. 

Often, your tattoos reflect an aspect of yourself and your interests, which is why it is so vital to achieving the design that you envision, as it will be there forever. 

 It is a good idea to look into the possible options for your tattoo, as well as their theoretical effectiveness when considering the complexity of your tattoo and the potential pain levels involved. Many artists specialize in one technique or another, and at times they may even outright prefer one method. 

Communicate with your artist and make sure that you are comfortable with your design and the manner with which it will be inked. 

What is the Cost Range for This Tattoo? 

Most tattoo parlors have fixed rates for their tattoos, depending on the time taken to ink it. Depending on the tattoo’s complexity, the size, incorporation of color or shading, and the location, it could take a few hours or multiple appointments. As a result, you may want to ask for the approximate range for your design price. 

A larger tattoo on a broader area like your back or a sleeve on your arm may have to be done in multiple sessions. This may take a long amount of time and a significant amount of money. There is also the option to add on to your original tattoo over time. Regardless, make sure that you have enough money to pay for the tattoo itself, and tip your artist for the work that they have put in!

What is the Best Area of the Body to Get My Tattoo? 

This depends on your level of comfort and any restrictions that could be considered factors in your tattoo placement. Many people opt for smaller tattoos, while others enjoy the expressionism offered by large pieces of art. 

Though some professional offices and graduate school positions might still have a few reservations towards body modification, this truly does depend on your workplace

You should also ask yourself where you would be comfortable with being inked and if you plan to show off your tattoo.

Will it Hurt and Can I Take Breaks

Many people feel nervous about their tattoos, especially if it is their first one, but remember that this feeling is normal and often very common. It is suggested to eat something prior to a tattoo appointment and make sure that you feel as comfortable as possible. 

Your tattoo artist is responsible for ensuring that you have the best experience possible for the next few hours. However, even such, your tattoo is going to cause some level of pain and irritation, and the most that you can do is sit through it.

Generally, areas such as the arms, upper thighs, and back are the least painful spots due to the amount of tissue and fat in those areas, and the most painful areas are generally boney joints or places with only a thin covering of skin.

It’s important to note that pain is relative but that it is not necessary to push through a long, painful session without any breaks taken in between. Your artist should understand that you are in pain or nervous, and there is no need to be embarrassed. 

You should have the option of asking your artist for a break or a moment to breathe during your appointment. Make sure also to notify your artist if you start to feel at all nauseous or dizzy. 

How Should I Look After My Tattoo?

Tattoos are still an open wound, and they need to heal. In order to prevent infection or problems arising, it’s important to care for the area properly, as recommended by your artist. Be sure to leave the bandage/wrap on the tattoo for as long as your tattoo artist advises.

The area should be cleaned at least twice a day with a scent-free, skin-friendly soap. You should also apply a scent-free moisturizing lotion to the tattoo once it has been cleaned to ensure the skin remains nourished and hydrated.

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.

Be sure not to submerge your tattoo in water or apply ointment onto the area too generously.

This is FAR too much lotion and some should be blotted off with a paper towel

Treat your body properly, and remember to stay as consistent as possible with aftercare. Keep an eye on the tattoo itself to ensure it’s healing without any concern, but understand that symptoms such as itching, scabbing and peeling are common parts of the healing process.

 It’s also important to note that you may observe plasma, ink, or blood leaking from your tattoo, but this is also entirely normal.

 It is recommended to avoid direct sunlight on your tattooed skin initially, and ensure you’re wearing sunscreen as an extra precaution once the area has fully healed.

My favorite and most recommended sunscreen for using on tattoos is EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen Lotion.

This broad-spectrum sunscreen has all of the attributes required for not only protecting your tattoo amazingly well, but also for helping to keep it bright and vibrant. It’s suitably strong at SPF 50 and is water and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Most importantly, EltaMD is extremely tattoo-friendly and doesn’t contain any fragrances, oils, or parabens.

What is the Estimated Healing Time?

Tattoos will heal at different speeds depending on the location of the tattoo, your skin sensitivity, how well you have been fulfilling aftercare needs, and a variety of other factors. You should consult your artist about this and make sure you’re well-informed about healing times prior to getting your tattoo. 

Generally, after getting a tattoo, the outer layer of skin will normally heal within 2 to 3 weeks. However, while it may look and feel completely healed, it can actually take as long as 6 months for the deeper layers of tattooed skin to truly heal.

Final Note

Tattoos can be excellent decisions that reward you with a design that will last forever, but it is essential to be informed about the advantages and disadvantages of the choices you make. It’s incredibly important to reach out to your artist and make sure that you are happy and comfortable with your design and the implications of getting your new ink before your appointment.