You’re browsing the internet and Instagram — or maybe you’re old school, flicking through tattoo magazines, photo albums and artists’ books — but either way, you’re on the hunt for some tattoo inspiration.
You’ve been thinking about it for a while and now, finally, you’ve decided: you want to get a custom tattoo.
Something that’s personal, that means something to you — even if it means nothing to anyone else. In fact, preferably so.
But you’re not quite sure of what’s involved. You feel stressed and clueless. Where do you start? Maybe you need to sketch something yourself? Perhaps you’re meant to have the whole design pre-done; you don’t know. After all, this is the first time you’ve got a custom tattoo. Or maybe bringing a cool design from the Internet you sort of like to your neighborhood tattoo shop will do?
This is precisely how NOT to approach getting a custom tattoo.
But don’t worry. In this blog post, we’re going to break down the process of getting a custom tattoo — what it means and what to expect — so that your tattoo artist will love you. And you’ll love your custom tattoo.
What is a custom tattoo and what does it mean?
A custom tattoo, just like anything else custom made, is unique and created from an original idea.
Maybe it’s your heritage that you’re proud of, a particular life event that changed you, or maybe it’s an important person in your life that you want to commemorate. Whatever that thing (or person) is, that’s the original idea. Your custom tattoo is developed — or grown, if you like — from that.
It’s a concept. We’re talking about a general — vague, even — idea; not specifics.
People can feel very nervous about coming to a tattoo studio not knowing exactly what they want. But where a custom tattoo is concerned, this is actually preferable. Some customers mistakenly believe that they have to have ready a design or even a sketch in order to describe to the tattoo artist what they’re after.
But the good news is, that’s not the case at all!
Your tattoo artist is your visual interpreter
Think of your tattoo artist as an interpreter. A visualizer. You can give them names, places, general concepts or things, and a good custom tattoo artist will be able to turn it all into a design that’s personal and unique to you.
After all, you wouldn’t go to Picasso with a design you wanted him to copy, would you?!
A custom tattoo artist is exactly that: an artist. Their skill is their creativity and their ability to understand what the customer wants, and bring it to life better than they could themselves.
What’s it like getting a custom tattoo at ArtHouse?
In order to create a custom work, it’s important that we get to know you first. Who you are, what you like and don’t like, what your level of experience with tattoos is, and what are the important things you want your tattoo to reflect.
Step 1: Consultation
At ArtHouse, we invite all of our customers into the studio for a personal consultation, and from this discussion, we collate all the information into an initial idea.
Step 2: Style references
We’ll ask you to bring any references you’ve been able to collect that demonstrate the style of tattoo you’re after, e.g. Japanese, blackwork, traditional, Celtic, etc, as well as artwork examples that inspire you.
However, we’ll specifically ask you not to bring any pictures of tattoo designs that are readily available on the Internet. Why? Because it’s important that you and your artist can start fresh and avoid having set expectations around how your custom tattoo will look and any comparisons to someone else’s work.
When customers only have general ideas and can’t come up with any references, we just ask them to describe to us what they are thinking about. It’s very relaxed, no pressure chat, and then it’s up to us to produce a visualization of those thoughts.
Step 3: Advice
We’ll happily give you idea suggestions and professional advice as to what will or will not work in your case, all based on our knowledge and expertise. After all, that’s what we’re here for! We’ll also discuss approximate costs and number of sessions for your project, and answer any questions you might have. Most importantly, please know that our advice and ideas are always and entirely based on keeping you, the customer, and your best interest in mind.
Step 4: Appointment
Then, if you feel at ease and ready to move forward, we’ll schedule an appointment for a tattoo session. At this point, we also collect a deposit from you so we can start working on the design.
Once your custom tattoo design is ready, we send it to you for approval prior to your sessions. If — and only if you approve it — do we get started.
Your custom tattoo will never be sold or offered to another customer. It’s yours and yours alone, just like a custom made suit or pair of boots. The same pair that is made for you won’t fit another pair of feet, only yours. We feel the same about custom tattoo projects. Each one is a unique work of art, created especially for the wearer.
So, if that sounds good to you, contact us today for an initial consultation.