Custom Tattoos: A Guide to Discussing Art with Your Tattoo Artist

Sometimes you know exactly what you want your custom tattoos to be—you just have a feeling inside your head and heart, a brilliant idea. But even if you know precisely what you desire, there will be conversations and negotiations with your artist about what’s possible. The goal is to facilitate discussing your desired tattoo efficiently, without wasting time for both parties. Here are some practical do’s and don’ts to guide you on your journey!

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Think carefully about your custom tattoos before scheduling an appointment

You’re likely to receive questions from the tattoo artist/assistant such as: “How large do you want your tattoo to be?”, “Where do you want the tattoo placed on your body?”, “Do you prefer a colorful tattoo or black and white?”… You should be prepared to answer these questions directly related to your tattoo. You can definitely be flexible about these aspects, but the more you understand about your tattoo, the better. After all, it’s a tattoo designed specifically for you. You should communicate more with your tattoo artist, but don’t overdo it! Sending them 120 emails or messages would overload the tattoo artist/assistant.

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Bring reference images of the tattoo you want if possible.

We recommend bringing or emailing photos of objects or themes you want in your tattoo to the tattoo artist/assistant. Typically, you can search for images on Google or Pinterest, or check out the inspiration archives of 1984 Studio. Additionally, you can also bring images of other tattoo artists to describe the style or aesthetic you’re aiming for.

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Ask for what you want.

Your tattoo will be on your body forever. Therefore, communicate with the tattoo artist/assistant about how you want your tattoo to look. Are you satisfied with the current design of the tattoo, or not? This can be understood because everyone’s aesthetic preferences are different. Additionally, respect the tattoo artist/assistant so that both parties can collaborate smoothly.

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Trust in the artist and their ability.

If you’re looking to get a custom-designed tattoo, be sure to find an artist who suits your style, aesthetics, and ideas. There are plenty of tattoo artists out there, each with their own unique characteristics and styles. If you want a Mandala tattoo, seek out an artist specializing in this style. If you prefer a Traditional tattoo, find an artist skilled in that area. You can’t just approach a New School tattoo artist and ask them to design a Realistic tattoo for you, right?


Do not demand too many or constant tiny changes.

Avoid excessively intervening in your tattoo artist’s artistic work. Making countless changes in size, being anxious about insignificant details just to delay or ensure that it will be perfect… all of these can cause stress for your artist.

Remember that if your tattoo artist makes some changes to your initial ideas: ask them why they made certain choices, instead of immediately criticizing, and you will understand their work better. Skin is not paper – there are decisions that the artist must change in terms of design to execute your artwork.

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Do not ask your tattoo artist to directly copy someone else’s work or photo!

Unless you want a realistic portrait, refrain from asking your tattoo artist to directly replicate something onto your skin, especially another artist’s work! You came to them for a custom tattoo design, so let their personal artistic talent shine.

However, if you want a realistic portrait or a frame from a movie, that’s completely acceptable as long as the artist is willing! Some tattoo artists specialize in recreating scenes from movies or famous paintings! It would be great if you shared some options of the character, movie, or famous person you want on your skin. While directly copying a scene from a movie is entirely feasible, it’s better to give your artist some options to work with. They will advise you on what’s best based on placement, lighting, and a variety of other factors affecting a tattoo.”

Communication with your tattoo artist is the key to achieving the custom tattoos you desire. By following the do’s and don’ts outlined in this guide, you can ensure a positive experience during the tattooing process. Remember to bring reference materials and clear ideas, trust in the expertise of the artist, and maintain respect. By working together, you can bring your vision to life and create a tattoo that you will cherish for a lifetime.

For more captivating stories about tattoos, feel free to explore our Blog. Additionally, you can check out our Facebook page for a variety of videos and images.