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Apologies in advance if this is an irritating newbie-style thread starter*, but after reading through the very interesting slang terms that make you cringe thread I started to think about certain aspects of tattooing that I like that I do not know the name of, and do not have the specialist vocabulary to communicate.

I found myself trying to find quick snappy terms to describe the following three tattoo features but could not come up anything:

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Details from Tattoos by Valerie Vargas

In the first detail, I don't know the name for that technique of using highlighting lines, like sun rays. In the second, the use of clouds in traditional tattoos (traditional clouding?), and in the third the traditional 'red glow'.

Yes, you are right, I do appear to have invented my own techincal terms that probably could be easily understood by a tattooist, but I am eager to learn the proper terms so that I can communicate better. I have looked for a good Tattooists Glossary so that I can increase my vocabulary but they always tend to be fairly basic.

I'm also interested to find out if Tattooists prefer clients to have a decent grasp on this kind of specialist knowledge, or if it isn't necessary.

* I may be a newbie, but I won't be asking questions about the price per hour for a tattoo, the best tattoist in Grimsby for tribal and a portrait of my child from a photo, or asking whether my wife should really be apprenticing in Fred West's Strangeways Tattoo Studio.

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There often aren't any official descriptive terms for decorative tattoo elements. Even if everyone in a certain area or country use the same terms, someone from elsewhere will call it something different.

Please don't use words like 'clouding' or 'rose work' etc, nothing says "I spend all time on the internet" like asking for some neo-trad clouding with rose work.

Don't try to make up names and descriptions. Just say what you see.

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I don't know what people would generally call the line stuff... If I wanted clouds like that I'd explain it as Jap style clouds but in that american traditional way, I don't know if there's a one word term for those.. The red glow is generally called a burst by the people I know.. It doesn't have to be red, it can be pretty much any colour depending on what colours the tattoo is..

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yep. i dont care if customers know some terms or not. to be honest, there's no terms as such really. rays, clouds red bursts, thats it really. if a customer was being incredibly picky as to highlight every last bit of the design i'd be a lot worried. best thing to do if youre dead set on certain details is to print out examples from the tattooer's online portfolio or point them out at the shop when having a chat.

ive had people bring me an almost entire portfolio of other people's work expecting me to do it, and i always say to just go to the guy whose all this work belongs to.

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Thanks all for your advice, most appreciated. I thought it might be useful/helpful for me to know some terms but it is clear this is open and people have different ways of describing something. Nothing is set in stone, in other words. That's a relief.

Stewart - thanks for your help. I suppose partly it is making sure that if an artist mentions "red burst" to me that I know what they mean, which up until 10mins ago, I most certainly wouldn't have.

Ursula - yes, I have seen that style of burst done in green, orange, purple etc, and it can look great. Your description of that kind of cloud work is precisely how it should be described, rather than a snappy term. Thanks.

Jaycel - I guess as my original post suggests, I am completely OCD about making sure I am prepared, so I will have a lot of visual material always.

Valerie - Yeah, for me it is not about being prescriptive about a design, and stating exactly how a design should be, so much as saying "I like what you did here so include it if you want to, or you think it will work with the design." I agree with you that showing the artist examples of what you like about their work specifically is the way to go, and I could not imagine showing other artists' work at a consultation. That's pretty rude, and unhelpful.

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I'm also interested to find out if Tattooists prefer clients to have a decent grasp on this kind of specialist knowledge, or if it isn't necessary.

You're already on the right track by referencing Valerie's work. Those are all great tattoos.

I'm pretty sure you could go to her (or someone of her caliber) and simply say "I want a lady head tattoo" or "I want an anchor tattoo" and you're gonna get something pretty bitchin'.

If you're going to a good tattooer, 99.9% of the time what they draw is going to look cooler than anything you imagine and layout in your head and (in my opinion) you're best off letting them create the design and ask you whatever pertinent questions they have.

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Thanks Jake - yeah, I am completely open to artists coming up with a design, and frankly I find it surprising when people are so prescriptive about what they want. To me it is about giving the tattooist an idea of what you want, and then letting them interpret it.

Also, I think for me it is about being aware of some terms so that if I am asked if I want a particular feature in the work, I will know what to answer. The thread has proved that most terms are not set in stone, and that being fluent in certain aspects of tattooing is perhaps not even necessary for someone in my position.

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I didn't think there was ever really technical terms to them, other then light rays (in ref to the all seeing eye) I actually just drew one of those up for my friend and that's exactly what he called it. But when I'm going to my artist i usually bring a drawing ive done or a ref picture like others said.

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