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How to Design Your Own Tattoo

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How to design your own tattoo

Design your own tattoo with style.

CC Image courtesy TibChris @ Flickr
Do you want to know how to design your own tattoo? A talented artist can make the craft look easy. Television shows like Miami Ink, Ink Master and L.A. Ink brought the world of custom tattoos up close and personal. Forget the tattoo flash.

Whether this is your first, last or some random tattoo number in the middle, make it count and make it custom with a design all of your own. Go ahead and get creative. You can do it.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: N/A

Here's How:

  1. Location, location, location: Consider your body prime real estate. Location, visibility and discretion all play a key role (as should gravity) when determining a tattoo design. When you start planning your tattoo, explore your available body canvas and take these areas into consideration.

    Do you want a tattoo that the entire world can see or just a select few? Semi-private location areas include the lower back, shoulders, stomach and neck, whereas high visibility locations include the face, arms, fingers and legs. Once you’ve determined your desired location you can begin planning the perfect tattoo piece. That’s the fun part.

  2. Get inspired: Even if you have a theme in mind, you should stay open to fresh ideas before getting inked. Tattoo magazines, art books, cultural symbols and botanical images all make for artful inspiration. Spend a day shuffling through library books for style ideas. Search magazines and periodicals for pictures that pique your interest. Take a journal and jot notes. In other words, do your homework.
  3. Stay true: Remember, no matter how cliché it sounds, a tattoo is permanent. Try not to opt for a trendy piece or style. Stay true to your hobbies, special interests and beliefs before you make a lifelong decision. Are you currently interested in a culture or practicing a new religion? Make sure you’ll have the same interests and beliefs down the road as a precautionary measure.

    “Safe” tattoos often include zodiac symbols, floral tattoos and tribal styles that don’t pinpoint a particular time or trend in your life.

  4. Draw it yourself: If you have a creative hand, spend some time sketching and let the paper come alive. Perhaps a simple cross could benefit from your true-to-life rose drawings? A basic black tribal piece could be enhanced with a rainbow of color. Rather than opt for a traditional piece of old school tattoo flash, why not sketch your own?

    Even if you lack an artistic side you can integrate your ideas into a piece. Start exploring images and consider colors. Piece some of your favorite tattoo styles together and imagine how it would best befit you. Journal your ideas and start putting them together.

  5. Choosing color: Do you dream in color? Before you go crazy over the color wheel be sure you can commit to ink touch-ups down the road, as they will likely be needed. While touch-ups certainly aren’t a necessity during the life of a tattoo, you may find a drab and old tattoo needs a color refresher. The more color you add now, the more you’ll need to add later. Maintenance is always a consideration.
  6. Black and white: Many people opt for solid black tattoos for good reason. Black is basic and looks clean. Black also serves as the prime shade for most tribal and cultural tattoo designs. If you like a single-color theme but would rather go pale, why not opt for a trendy white ink tattoo or glow in the dark ink? Colorless doesn’t have to mean boring.
  7. Find the right artist: Once you’ve created the perfect design it’s time to find the artist who can bring it to life. Don’t cheat here. Take your piece to several different shops for professional feedback. Meet all artists and check out their portfolios and ensure they’re licensed. He may choose to modify your design as he sees fit and you should welcome his expert suggestions. Most will offer free consultations by appointment, so get in the chair. Creativity awaits!

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