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How to Discover Talented Tattoo Artists

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Discover hidden talent in the shop.
Adam Berry / Stringer / Getty Images
You can find a reputable tattoo artist several ways. Word of mouth (in other words, ask). Or you can take it upon yourself to do the dirty work. As in, the inspection of the shop and the portfolios.

Don't buy into the idea that the busiest or most well-known artist in your area is the best. Would you apply that same rule to your hairdresser, mechanic or nail technician? Of course not. So shop around and find the artist that's creative, trustworthy and most of all, clean.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: N/A

Here's How:

  1. Take a tour: Before you start calling around tattoo studios let your feet do the walking instead. There's no better way to get a feel for an artist than to pop right in. See what the artists are doing, who's available to chat, and most importantly decide if you like the atmosphere. You'll be spending quite some time there.

    Next, is the place clean? See a license? Chairs look wiped off? Good. Now introduce yourself and get ready to plan the tattoo process.

  2. Start talking ideas: Here's your chance to interview an artist. Spill your thoughts. Lots of people have fears about tattoo artists as stereotypes have created a certain culture club associated with the craft. Tattooists are human. Don't be afraid to talk to them. Show them your body and let them listen to your ideas. See where it goes. Are they spilling back design suggestions? If yes, keep talking. Explore colors and go over flash or custom sketch options. If not, head out the door. This isn't the artist for you.
  3. Do a trial: Any reputable artist should be willing to create a few sample sketches and even let you test drive a temporary design. This is your body. Don't be in such a hurry. If it's not right, try again. There is no room for permanent errors. This is especially important to note if you're planning a name, cultural symbol or language tattoo.
  4. Get inked: Once you found the guy who has envisioned your tattoo just as you have, it's time to pick a date. Get to your appointment on time and sober. Make sure you have some cash for a tip. Your tattooist deserves it. He's worked hard. An extra twenty percent added to your bill will do.
  5. Spread the word: Celebrity tattooists rely on the same thing. Publicity. If you discovered hidden talent in your local area, spread the word. Fan page your artist on Facebook and social media sites, provide credit and post photographs.

    You don't have to be part of a culture club to find a talented artist. You just have to be someone who appreciates a creative, trustworthy and most of all, clean tattooist. You know, just like your hairdresser. (And the chairs are more comfortable!)

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