Getting a tattoo is one of the most popular and most meaningful ways to express yourself visually. Clothes or your haircut can certainly represent your current style, but styles come and go and clothes get worn and then tossed to the side. Tattoo ideas are forever, and whether they represent a memory, and experience, a life lesson, a loved one or just a stupid mistake from your teenage years, tattoos stay with you and they become a part of who you are. Plus they look really cool. Especially if you choose a tattoo design that suits you in an artsy, impactful and fun way.
A lot of people have tattoos and even more are getting them; a recent Fox News poll found that “a third of those under age 30 have a tattoo (34 percent). One in five in this age group has three or more (19 percent).” You know what they say: it’s hard to get just one tattoo because once you see how amazing your tat looks you don’t want to stop there. This is, of course, assuming your tattoo is a well thought-out design and not a drunken mistake. If you get smashed and find yourself at a tattoo parlor we can’t really help you, but for everyone looking to make a conscious, strategic and artistic statement with their tattoo ideas, we have some tips.
According to world-renowned tattoo artist Pat Fish of LuckyFish Art in Santa Barbara, Calif. in an interview with The Week, a tattoo is an “externalization of internal aesthetics,” and getting one is a bit like “picking a personal logo for life.” When you put it that way, it sure seems like a big branding decision that you need to put time, thought, energy and creativity behind. Which means you shouldn’t pick something simply because it is cool, trendy or because it looks awesome on someone else. You should, however, pick something that is meaningful to you. And no, you don’t need to work with an illustrator to craft your own design. Park continues to say, “the more effort you put into the design process, the more unique and personal the tattoo can be.” So even if you walk into a tattoo salon and choose to work with a design on the wall, find a way to make it your own and make sure it speaks to you in a very real way. Don’t choose a tattoo just based on appearances. According to Inked Magazine, “you probably don’t want to choose something only because it is aesthetically pleasing. Of course, this aspect is very important, but it’s not the only aspect to consider. If you have a deeper connection to the design it will be much dearer to your heart, especially years down the road.”
As for the actual design, you can start by thinking about a shape, a picture, a word or a quote that has an important place in your life. Generally speaking, try to avoid anything too harsh, too large, too trendy or too inappropriate. Remember that one day your kids could see this tattoo, so could a future girlfriend (so getting your current girlfriend’s name is a bad call) and so could your boss. Creating a tattoo replica of a photo almost never ends well because it’s nearly impossible to get the photo perfectly accurate and it ends up looking more creepy than cool. And if you were planning to have some visual representation of a TV character, movie star or athlete, mark our words: you will regret it. Just say no to any tattoo honoring Jon Snow or LeBron James.
In addition to choosing a design for your tattoo, you also need to be really smart about choosing a tattoo artist. And if you choose a tattoo artist who you trust and who is an expert at not only the act of applying but also designing tattoos then you know you’ll be in good hands. You should also consult with your tattoo artist multiple times before you actually do the deed, because after all, it’s a permanent choice. And if you decide you don’t like it, or it doesn’t come out exactly how you want, then you’re sh*t out of luck. Plus, the more you map out your tattoo the more likely you are to avoid simple (but damaging) mistakes like misspelled words, grammatical errors, or unintentional interpretations of a design. Some artists will even apply a temporary tattoo to mimic the real deal just so you can make sure you like it before you put the needle and ink to work.
Remember that designing a tattoo is an art form; it requires skill, effort and vision. Everything from the shape of the tattoo to the placement, size and colors used come into play with how happy you are with the finished product. Choose wisely, be patient, and in the end your tattoo will be a true work of art that you can wear proudly for the rest of your life.