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How to Pick a Tattoo

13 Ways to Help You Decide What Tattoo To Get

So, you want a tattoo -- but you don't know how to choose a tattoo. Don't worry; this is actually super common. A lot of times people like the tattoo aesthetic, want to memorialize a special point in their life, or just want to own their body and individuality.

But if you're not the artsy type -- or even if you are -- picking the perfect tattoo can feel overwhelming.

Here are some ways to help you choose a tattoo design that's right for you:

  1. Collect examples of tattoos that you like. You don't even have to understand why. Just know that you like them. Chances are, your artist will notice a common thread in style or details that you might not even see, and that will help you narrow it down. You can make a Pinterest board of ideas or a simply folder on your phone.

  2. Look through tattoo portfolios. Browse our artists and their tattoo portfolios and see if anyone stands out to you. Art is subjective; what one person loves, another person may not. See what speaks to you.

  3. Book a consultation. Tattoo artists are happy to do a simple, free consultation with you to help you hone in on a style and design. You can easily book a consultation on our website.

  4. Go with flash. Traditionally, tattoo shops posted flash (pre-drawn tattoo concepts) on their walls and people just browsed the walls and picked what jumped out to them. There's a reason why shops did this in the past: It works. Not for everyone, but it's a great option for many people.

  5. Don't overthink it. It's OK to like art for the aesthetic. Everything doesn't have to have some big, grandiose meaning. Think of it as clothes (a permanent shirt, ha!). When you pick out clothes, you choose stuff that fits your style and flatters your body. Every dress doesn't have to have a story behind it. Sometimes, you just like how it looks. And that's OK.

  6. Trust your artist. What if (and hear me out) you picked a great artist and told them to tattoo you with whatever they wanted to tattoo? Artists are artists for a reason -- and sometimes they may have a better eye for things than clients. Not convinced? Read this article and then circle back: "The Lesson of the Needle"

  7. Pick your spot first. Choosing where you want to get tattooed can help narrow down your options considerably. You wouldn't put the same piece on your ankle as you'd put on your bicep as you'd put on your ribcage -- and if your artist thinks any piece will look good anywhere, maybe look for another artist. Your tattoos should flow with the natural curves of your body.

  8. Look at other kinds of art. Don't just look at tattoos. Browse paintings, sketches, book covers, museums, sculptures. Watch movies. What are your favorite books, comic book characters, or musicians? Art inspires more art.

  9. Narrow down the details. Maybe you don't know the exact design, but ask yourself about the details: Do you want color or black and grey? Do you want a big tattoo or small? Do you want it to stand alone or be part of a bigger picture some day? How long can you handle getting a tattoo?

  10. Consider your budget. Your budget can also help you narrow down the best tattoo design. If you're on a tight budget, don't be looking at full sleeves and back pieces.

  11. Use your words. If you can't decide on an image, perhaps you can go with a word, quote, or phrase. What's your favorite word? Maybe your child's name? Is there a quote that has helped you through tough times? These can all make great tattoos.

  12. These are a few of my favorite things. What makes you happy? What's your favorite animal, country/city, color, hobby, musical instrument, car, time period, or sport? These can all be useful launching points to help you choose a tattoo.

  13. Go with the classics. They call them classics because they never go out of style. Traditional tattoos are great because they're not trendy. Look through old Sailor Jerry books and pick your favorite anchor, rose, bird, snake, pin-up girl, skull, black cat, or dagger.


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