People worldwide have donated their skin to art. The once bland epidermises of the masses have been transformed into a lushly decorated canvas, beautified by the ink-saturated needles of the tattooist.
Tattoos are an expression of individuality, and the process of finding the artist, identifying and retooling the design, and having it indelibly prodded into the flesh has become ritualized amongst enthusiasts.
A well-done tattoo demands attention.
It incites conversation, queries, and commentary. It makes an otherwise uninteresting, or unattractive person worthy of a double take. Listed below, are the trends that have become ubiquitous on the bodies of the tattooed millions.
Asian style tattooing is as spellbindingly intricate and vivid as it is notorious. Adapted by Yakuza cabals as a right of passage, the style has been recently popularized amongst less nefarious groups. The genre focuses on symbols of oriental lore – dragons, samurais, tigers, battle masks, and tsunamis. The colors are lush, and verdant, and the designs lend themselves to a cohesion that is well suited for arm, or in some cases, full body sleeves.
Adapted by Yakuza cabals as a right of passage, the style has been recently popularized amongst less nefarious groups
Tribal tattooing peaked in desirability in the late 90’s. Many are scarred with the dreaded tribal armband – a jagged, discursive design inked in black. They’re usually poorly done. Likely by a disinterested artist, over burdened and tired of compromising his craft for the sake of “flash” designs.
But there are exceptions.
There’s been an influx of artists, retrograding to the primitive techniques of free hand tattooing without electric guns. It’s costlier, and even more painful, but the end result can be brilliant.
Plus, being hammered at by a tattooist’s equivalent of pick and chisel gives you immediate alpha male status.
The portrait is an inexact form. The results are can be terrible. Those who rush into a portrait tattoo without researching the artists end up with disfigured semblances of a loved one, or a cherished, long deceased pet.
Toby the Terrier could end up looking like a swamp monster if you choose an inexperienced tattooist.
Basically, a portrait can look stunning, or repulsive. But good portrait artists do exist. If done well, you can turn an appendage of your body into an animate shrine, or tribute. Refer to Kat Von D’s portfolio to see the best in portraits.
Old school imagery is reemerging. Hipsters have filched the style from the bikers. Daggers encompassed by flowers, flaming skulls, pin-up girls, sparrows, and a ton of other throw back flash now adorn the bodies of our youth.
The images are simple, relying more on strong lines and sharp hues then detail. There’s a definite timelessness to them.
Artistically, they possess an indistinct class, like blue smoke hanging in the air of a jazz club. Check out your cities shops for artists that specialize in the trend.
The images are simple, relying more on strong lines and sharp hues then detail
When you walk into a shop, you’ll notice dozens of designs hanging on the walls, waiting to be transferred from paper to flesh. These are what are known as flash. Luckily, the medium has evolved from scorpions and warlocks to pieces with slightly more artistic merit. The majority of people eschew flash design for designs more intimately associated with their lives.
Flash is viewed as the industry cliché.
It’s the commercialized, the blemish on the subversion that makes an individual “unique”.
However a recent deluge of Old School style flash has given the form some vibrancy.
The majority of people eschew flash design for designs more intimately associated with their lives
How do you find a good artist?
There are a two primary ways to locate and secure good artistry: patience and questioning.
If you see someone with what you consider to be a good tattoo walking down the street, ask him or her where he or she had it done. Inquire about the cost and how long it took.
Tattooing is an industry largely built on referrals. If an artist is consistently busy, take it as a reflection of their work.
Good tattoos are costly, yes, but it is possible to get quality work without paying inordinately high prices. Chain studios have concomitantly high prices. The work is usually good, but keep in mind you’re paying additional dollars for the name associated with the tattoo. It becomes more of a matter of branding then anything else.
Go online, research tattoo shops as fastidiously as possible, and flip through portfolios. Do not rush into your idea. Amateurs pay for their haste with bad tattoos. Even an untrained eye can discern between awful, and amazing work.
If you have any artistic taste it’s easy. Look for a strong contrast in the colors, along with vivacity and brightness and solid, controlled lines. The shapes and images should be easily distinguishable. In black and grays, note the transition from dark to light, and inversely light to dark. A good black and gray piece will have the appearance of being three-dimensional.
Tattooing is an industry largely built on referrals. If an artist is consistently busy, take it as a reflection of their work
Things to consider
We hate to state the obvious, but remember a tattoo is permanent. Don’t rush the process. How many people have you seen waking down the street with a laughably bad tattoo? Tons. People get overtly excited and walk into the first dirty shop on the block. Check the credentials of the artist before putting your skin in their hands. The last thing you need is an ugly mishmash of colours or a laser removal scar.
Ensure that your shop is clean. Make sure they use new needles. Watch them open up clean packages, and dispose of used ones.
Another observation – if the artist seems unengaged in the procedure they probably don’t like your idea. You don’t want an apathetic artist. . This could lead to a rushed piece. A rushed tattoo is a bad one. Find someone that at least feigns excitement before you hand them your cash.
Much like life, tattooing has a few glaring inevitabilities. The most dissuading of these is pain. The degree of pain experienced while having hundreds of needles perforate the skin varies from person to person. It depends solely on ones threshold.
Some can sit in a stoic trance for hours while having their neck inked. Others scream and vomit when getting coin-sized dots on their biceps. Regardless of the placement of the piece, there will be pain. The more nerve endings in the area, the more anguished the process. Places like neck, chest, and ribs are the most painful, while it’s purported that calves and biceps are the least painful.
Tattooing is a saturated industry. The hacks outweigh the professionals. Take your time and spend wisely. Don’t hesitate to pay more for quality. And please be original. There’s nothing worse then generic art.
Tattooing is an undertaking with a set of fairly implicit rules. Unfortunately, too many people are victimized by hacks masquerading as artists.
- A dirty shop could lead to disease and infection. You should never undermine your health for the sake of tattooing. Take your time, and be rewarded.
- A good tattoo will rouse envy. A bad one, mockery. There are artists out there that can provide you with outstanding work. You need to seek them out.
- Remember to look through portfolios and ask questions.
- Visit a variety of shops before you make your decision.
- If you have a design you like, put it up on your wall or make it your desktop background…if you can see it everyday for 6 months and still like it, that’s a good sign it has lasting appeal for you
Do you have a tattoo horror story? Is there a laser removal scar where there once was the name of an ex-lover? Know of an artist that specializes in the aforementioned styles? Please, share your experiences with us in the comment section below!