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4 Questions to Ask a Tattoo Artist

Planning a tattoo is a fun and exciting process, but it comes with a lot of research. You should not be getting a permanent piece of art on your body without thinking through what you want it to look like, where you want it, and why you want the tat that you do. These are all important parts of the process, and we encourage you to keep thinking through these questions as you plan your next tattoo.

However, we find that sometimes tattoo enthusiasts, especially those who might be new to the craft, spend more time on the tattoo itself than the artist who will be designing and making the tattoo. That’s not to say that you should focus on one over the other, but we would encourage you to carefully consider your selection of a tattoo artist.

A quality artist dramatically increases the chance that you’ll walk away happy, that your tattoo will heal properly, and that the tattoo will last long. This also should decrease the odds of infection and the need for future retouches. Inversely, choosing the wrong artist increases the odds of infection, poor recovery, and general dissatisfaction with the process.

As you make a short list of potential artists, ask them these questions to get an idea of what they’re about and what you can expect. Doing so might just be the difference between a stellar and long-lasting stroke of genius on your skin and a regrettable doodle.

“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.”— James Whistler

What Style Do They Prefer?

If you’re new to tattooing, you can be forgiven if you don’t know just how diverse the art form is. There are so many different styles of tattooing and it’s impossible for any artist to love them all equally. Most artists have a style or two that they really excel in and knowing their core competencies can be helpful. This is not an exhaustive list, but it can be helpful to know that these are often common styles. Ask any potential tattoo artist which of these they prefer to work in:

  1. New American Style
  2. Geometric
  3. Stick-n-Poke
  4. Realism
  5. Traditional
  6. Neo-Traditional
  7. Fine-Line
  8. Eastern Style

A good tattoo artist will also be able to refer you to someone who can best assist with the genre you want. For example, our own Josh Hall here at Lamar Street Tattoo Club in Dallas is an expert in American traditional.

However, if you need a piece of realism on your body, Josh will recommend you book with an artist on our team who specializes in this genre. That’s ok! Josh is one of the best tattoo artists in Dallas for American traditional style and he’d much prefer you discuss a realism tattoo with one of our realism experts! Any good tattoo artist should be able to tell you the same. 

Can You See Examples of Their Work?

This is one that you likely already know that you should ask. It only makes sense that you would want to see the result of the artistic process of any potential tattoo artist, especially since it will be forever!

We would also recommend that you ask for many detailed examples of work. This tat should last you the rest of your life. It’s worth a little extra time to investigate. Ask for not only multiple examples, but also examples of healed tattoos at multiple stages of recovery.

Depending on your familiarity with tattooing, you might even ask to see examples of different styles of tattooing to understand the core competencies of your artist. After all, if you love the work of an artist, but they can’t provide clear and compelling examples of geometric-based work and that’s what you’re asking for, then it might not be the right fit.

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What Pre & Post Care Instructions Should You Be Aware Of?

A good tattoo artist will make it very clear what they need you to do. The pre and post process are critical pieces of receiving a tattoo and a good tattoo artist will recognize this. Beforehand, they’ll likely recommend….

  • Coming properly hydrated
  • Avoiding any alcohol the day before and the day of your inking
  • Wearing baggy clothing to provide access to the tattoo
  • Getting a good night’s sleep
  • Bringing snacks and water
  • Moisturizing your skin in the days before inking.

The days after receiving the tattoo are just as critical. Ask your tattoo artist about their instructions here as well. They’ll likely tell you to…

  • Keep the area covered immediately after.
  • Apply a quality tattoo balm like Mad Rabbit.
  • Wash the area twice daily.
  • Avoid itching or scratching.

What Hygiene Procedures Do They Follow?

If you’re choosing a reputable tattoo parlor, whether in Dallas, the state of Texas. or anywhere in the world, you should have more peace of mind about hygiene protocols. However, it is still worth investigating, just to be safe. A good tattoo shop will…

  • Sterilize equipment after each use.
  • Dispose of some materials – like gloves – after each use.
  • License their artists.
  • Mandate plastic gloves when an artist is working.
  • Regularly clean the shop.
  • Be able to discuss their blood-borne pathogen precautions.

Contact Lamar Street Tattoo Club for a Recommendation

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