If you have decided to get a tattoo, you have probably thought of a design, then another and another. Maybe you have something in mind but haven’t found the design yet. You don’t need to find the design, you need to find a professional artist who is able to create what you want. If you want a tailored suit would you visit all the clothing stores hoping to find a suit with your exact measurements and is exactly how you imagined or would you go to a tailor who is able to create exactly what you want? If you’re smart enough you will choose the second option knowing that a good tailor has the necessary know-how, talent and experience to help and advise you in the creation of your tailored suit. As we say in Italy: “To each his own.”
Bringing some reference images with you may help the artist understand the kind of design you want. But don’t get hung up on the images and listen to the artist’s advice regarding what can and can’t be done and how it can be best achieved.
Avoid, as far as possible, entering a search in Google Images, you won’t find much of good quality. Go to the newsstand instead and buy a tattoo magazine, or better still, to a well-stocked bookstore and look for books about tattoos to get an idea of what is possible to do on skin and of the various styles from which you can choose. Also look for illustrated books and art books where you could find even more beautiful and original inspiration. Do not panic, it’s perfectly normal to be a little unsure regarding the choice of the subject, but if you widen your range of options you will also increase the chances of choosing something you will be proud of in the years to come.
Avoid asking a friend who is in art school or who can kind of draw to design your tattoo and at the same time avoid drawing it yourself unless you or your friend are really
very talented or are professional illustrators and even in this case you have to keep in mind that drawing on paper is very different from drawing on skin. The fact that you spent hours or days drawing something you feel proud of (that a professional artist would probably do better in 10 minutes) doesn’t mean it’s nice and even if you can see thousands of meanings in that drawing, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are there, visible and/or well structured.
A beautiful drawing with meanings is even more beautiful, but a thousand meanings won’t make a bad drawing beautiful.
So find an artist who has the necessary knowledge and experience to develop and create your tattoo and let him guide you.
If you already have a design it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s suitable for a tattoo. Almost anything can be tattooed, but a tattoo artist is not a printer. If you take a painting, which was probably drawn in a huge format, and you reduce the image with a printer to a ridiculously small size, it most definitely cannot be done. Again, a tattoo artist is not a printer and your skin is not a sheet of paper.
Avoid asking the copy of somebody else’s tattoo. Copying somebody else’s artwork is a lack of respect towards the artist that did it, towards the customer who paid to have a unique work, towards yourself and finally towards the artist who’s been asked to copy. No artist with ethics and a reputation will accept a similar request.
The best thing you could do is choose a unique tattoo. Ask those who have tattoos and in particular those who have beautiful tattoos, everyone will tell you the same thing: having something unique is the best decision you can make.
As for inspiration, there are an infinity of themes to choose from: hobbies, passions, art, your life, your philosophy of life etc. Tattooed and non-tattooed people, specialized magazines and if you listen to it even your common sense, will tell you that writing the name of the love of the moment, band logos etc. are to be avoided. Even if you don’t agree, in a couple of years you may have changed your mind on many things.
If you have an ironic tattoo in mind, what makes you laugh today may not be so much fun in a couple of months and in a couple of years you may even find it stupid.
Also avoid fashionable graphics or themes, some graphic styles lose their charm over time. Think about some cars, or design objects, they seemed beautiful when they first appeared on the market but after only a couple of years that design lost its charm to the point it becomes obsolete or even ugly.
Think of your body as a beautiful building and imagine walking by one day and seeing a fresco on that building, you would probably think that an artist completed the work.
Imagine instead of seeing that building covered in symbols and writings done with spray paint, you would probably think that some vandal defaced its walls, wouldn’t you?
So think carefully about the work you want and avoid vandalizing your body.