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Lochlan

"Tattoo what you want", misleading or true?

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the whole 'do what you want' fills me with dread, mostly cos every time it crops up bar once they never really mean it. it usually involves me having to think about ideas, since they arent giving me anything to go on and taking time to develop them into a design.

the few times it's been requested of me, ive mentioned skulls or animals and i could see them shrug ever so slightly and then the words come out, 'i'm not really a fan of skulls...' or 'i was thinking more of a girl with a pocketwatch/magpie/victorian artefact...'

my thing is, that if you just want something, ask for it, dont tell me to go crazy then say youre not into what i just said, specially when im not even pushing the boat out.

it's not doing me a favour letting me do what i want, its giving me a headache, i much prefer some direction or a seed of an idea. the combination is much better than starting out cold. also, one week i might really wanna do a blood thirsty warrior and maybe i wanna do a 2 headed medieval dragon the next, my reference and influences change from week to week, i dont keep a list of things i wanna do, maybe some tattooers do but i dont.

my conclusion on this is, only ask your tattooer for whatever they wanna tattoo if you are 100% sure you can live with yourself wearing whatever they come up with on your skin forever, and if you can't, then give them a couple of ideas or ask if theres something theyve been thinking theyd like to do recently and keep it open.

You know your right.I'm really not into skulls,or dragons,so i guess i was lying to myself saying i would have a world renowned artist do anything they wanted.I would probably be less particular in the design.

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I feel like I've done something wrong if the tattoo I end up with looks too much like my mental picture of it.

That said:

I tend to go in with abstracts; I'll throw out words and just keep riffing with the tattooer until it's a nice blend of my concept and their execution.

I'd never say 'do whatever you want' because that could end up badly. If I tattooed and someone said that, there'd be a LOT more badgers and turkeys in the tattoo world. And lots of dicks.

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You know your right.I'm really not into skulls,or dragons,so i guess i was lying to myself saying i would have a world renowned artist do anything they wanted.I would probably be less particular in the design.

Skulls or Dragons! really? If I had a body suit of nothing else but skulls and dragons I would be stoaked,they are the two greatest tattoo images in my opinion.

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@Lance, your back is looking incredible! Not like you'd get anything not incredible from Jill Bonny..

Thanks! It's slowly progressing. I think it's going to be pretty crazy when finished. The background is still in the outline phase so it'll be a while. It's funny though. Before starting to get tattoos, 2 of my rules were 1) I didn't want to be that "guy" with the strategically placed dragon tattoo who thought he was a tough badass and 2) nothing gory and disturbing. Now I have a dragon sleeve and namakubi on my butt and thigh. Oh yeah, a 3rd rule was not to get my bum tattooed. Oops! Ha ha! Well what can you do when you ask your artist for suggestions. What pairs well with a Phoenix? Oh a Dragon, done! What compliments one of the most infamous samurai in history, charging on horseback, swinging his sword around? Decapitated heads, go for it! It all made sense and I'm pretty damn happy!

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So here are my two questions for tattooers:

1) Do you prefer customers to come in telling you what they want or giving you creative autonomy?

2) How many times is too many for you to have to draw and redraw a design for the customer?

Tattoo customers:

1) Do you tell the tattooer what you want or let them have free reign?

2) How interactive are you in the process once you see what they have drawn up?

I HATE when people tell me "do what you want!". I prefer people to come in, show me something I've done and say, "I really like the way you did that. I want to get a blah blab blah on my [whatever area]. I was thinking of maybe adding some [whatever]. What are your thoughts?" More often than not, if someone tells me to do what I want, and I draw something big, they get really upset because they didn't want that much coverage, or they didn't want that type of flower or whatever.

I'll show someone a drawing. If they want some minor changes, ok, but I won't do several drawings. If they are coming to me, and they like my work, and they've shown me something they like, then they should be happy with the drawing (especially if they tell me I have artistic freedom).

I once had a client who had a badly done lower back tattoo by someone else. She told me how unhappy she was with it. She also told me that when she went to the original artist, she told him, "do what you want!". He did what he wanted. It wasn't what she wanted. She came to me to get it covered. I asked what she wanted, and she said, "I don't know, do what you want! Make it look nice!" I told her to go home and think about what she wanted, because I didn't want to do something on her that she wouldn't be happy with because it wasn't what SHE wanted, and then she'd be seeing some other artist saying that I did a bad job and her tattoo wasn't what she wanted.

Different situations may be different, but I feel that a client needs to have a pretty good idea first.

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I HATE when people tell me "do what you want!". I prefer people to come in, show me something I've done and say, "I really like the way you did that. I want to get a blah blab blah on my [whatever area]. I was thinking of maybe adding some [whatever]. What are your thoughts?" More often than not, if someone tells me to do what I want, and I draw something big, they get really upset because they didn't want that much coverage, or they didn't want that type of flower or whatever.

I'll show someone a drawing. If they want some minor changes, ok, but I won't do several drawings. If they are coming to me, and they like my work, and they've shown me something they like, then they should be happy with the drawing (especially if they tell me I have artistic freedom).

I once had a client who had a badly done lower back tattoo by someone else. She told me how unhappy she was with it. She also told me that when she went to the original artist, she told him, "do what you want!". He did what he wanted. It wasn't what she wanted. She came to me to get it covered. I asked what she wanted, and she said, "I don't know, do what you want! Make it look nice!" I told her to go home and think about what she wanted, because I didn't want to do something on her that she wouldn't be happy with because it wasn't what SHE wanted, and then she'd be seeing some other artist saying that I did a bad job and her tattoo wasn't what she wanted.

Different situations may be different, but I feel that a client needs to have a pretty good idea first.

Seems to me that your doing the right thing by asking them to come back. Some times the medicine is a bitter pill... and what not.

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I generally let the artist do what he or she wants to do or is stoked about doing!

I have found that if an artist is excited about doing the tattoo that i generally am

going to get their best work and they usually are happier and more talkative because

they are finally doing something they want to do not something the customer has

asked them to do!

This could also be why i have 2 vaginas, 3 dildos, and a penis tattooed on me too.....but hey....I have no regrets and love every single tattoo i have in my collection!

:)

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I usually have an idea in mind and then I look for an artist where that vibe and style is represented in his portfolio. Getting a sense of the artist personally is important to me too. I'll have the tattoo forever, I dont want to be saying, yeah the tattoo is great, but the artist was a prick. Or something worse. I got to know something about the person before I will commit.

Then I just give him\her a rough idea. "I want a foo dog and I want it to cover this much area.". The rest is what I pay the artist to do - layout, design, flow, size, color. He's the professional. He knows best. If Ive done my homework properly thats all the guidance needed.

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perfectly said.!!!

I HATE when people tell me "do what you want!". I prefer people to come in, show me something I've done and say, "I really like the way you did that. I want to get a blah blab blah on my [whatever area]. I was thinking of maybe adding some [whatever]. What are your thoughts?" More often than not, if someone tells me to do what I want, and I draw something big, they get really upset because they didn't want that much coverage, or they didn't want that type of flower or whatever.

I'll show someone a drawing. If they want some minor changes, ok, but I won't do several drawings. If they are coming to me, and they like my work, and they've shown me something they like, then they should be happy with the drawing (especially if they tell me I have artistic freedom).

I once had a client who had a badly done lower back tattoo by someone else. She told me how unhappy she was with it. She also told me that when she went to the original artist, she told him, "do what you want!". He did what he wanted. It wasn't what she wanted. She came to me to get it covered. I asked what she wanted, and she said, "I don't know, do what you want! Make it look nice!" I told her to go home and think about what she wanted, because I didn't want to do something on her that she wouldn't be happy with because it wasn't what SHE wanted, and then she'd be seeing some other artist saying that I did a bad job and her tattoo wasn't what she wanted.

Different situations may be different, but I feel that a client needs to have a pretty good idea first.

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There is maybe one artist in the world I would let do what they wanted. And I mean BLINDLY, nit having any idea before hand. Ed Hardy is that one.

Other than that, I will have an idea vefore I will go get tattooed. Im naturally open for artists suggestions fir getting something I didnt plan etc.

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Interesting to re-read this thread. I don't think I have ever given anyone as open-ended a remit as 'Tattoo whatever you would like to', but I haven't given super-detailed instructions either. I guess, as an early response mentions, a factor is that many of us on the forum are probably likely to be going to particular artists having an idea of what sort of work they appear to like doing and be proficient at.

That said, I did think hard about how to approach picking a rough idea for my backpiece, because the potential iconography was so wide and there were a few things I knew I definitley didn't want. Which artist I was going to go with tweaked it slightly... I originally thought about subject matter from a Kuniyoshi or Yoshitoshi print... But then when I decided I wanted to get something from Ching (who's Taiwanese) that didn't seem appropriate any more and I was opting for him because I perceived him to be doing something 'different' from the norm anyway. So I gave him a rough shortlist of 'things I thought were cool' ... I think I mentioned water, birds, windbars, flowers, large-scale buddha heads and strong black and grey contrasts. He picked and chose and mailed me back and suggested a big Guan Yin design - and that was basically it. The representation of Guan Yin was down to him, suggesting a parable involving a 'disciple bird'. I think I ended up with something that he was creatively interested in, and which gave him a fair amount of a free hand... But I had at least staked out some rough parameters.

Doing the same thing at the moment via E-mail with another artist - working out a rough ballpark of ideas and hopefully they will be interested in tattooing something in there...

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Great thread!

For my first tattoo I gave a vague idea of what I wanted, and let the tattooer pick the specific imagery. I feel like I was too into the story for this one. For my second and third tattoos I just picked some flash from the Amund Dietzel books and let the tattooer do the rest. For my fourth the tattooer had a stencil already made for someone who decided not to show up to the convention, so I agreed to have him put it on me. Out of the four, I like my snake and rose, the one that I had no hand in deciding on, the most. I think for my next one I am just going to give the tattooer a few pieces of imagery that I like, and let him take it from there.

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I'm kind of late to the game getting my first tattoo in my 50's. After bringing my artist some initial ideas, I wound up scrapping all of them and going with his recommendation. I'm working on a sleeve and my only parameters are Japanese theme. Everything else is up to him. Of course, I saw a lot of his sleeves before I chose him and I haven't seen one that I wouldn't wear myself. t think he's going to kill this.

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I'm kind of late to the game getting my first tattoo in my 50's. After bringing my artist some initial ideas, I wound up scrapping all of them and going with his recommendation. I'm working on a sleeve and my only parameters are Japanese theme. Everything else is up to him. Of course, I saw a lot of his sleeves before I chose him and I haven't seen one that I wouldn't wear myself. t think he's going to kill this.

Sounds like you'll be stoked on it, regardless! Also, you should be buddies with @jade1955 who also started "late in the game" and is currently going nuts like a kid/ @dcostello in a candy/liquor store, getting consistently tattooed by some great tattooers, and putting the rest of us to shame. Better late than never!

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I'm kind of late to the game getting my first tattoo in my 50's. After bringing my artist some initial ideas, I wound up scrapping all of them and going with his recommendation. I'm working on a sleeve and my only parameters are Japanese theme. Everything else is up to him. Of course, I saw a lot of his sleeves before I chose him and I haven't seen one that I wouldn't wear myself. t think he's going to kill this.

You're not too far from me. Mind if I ask who's doing it?

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You're not too far from me. Mind if I ask who's doing it?

Jessee Tseronis from Sakura Tattoo in Winchester, VA. He just nails the Japanese style. I love his work. He's very laid back and super easy to work with. We talked about what I wanted and he came up with ideas that I had never even considered.

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Jessee Tseronis from Sakura Tattoo in Winchester, VA. He just nails the Japanese style. I love his work. He's very laid back and super easy to work with. We talked about what I wanted and he came up with ideas that I had never even considered.

I've got a chest panel and half-sleeve from Jesse. Like Hogrider says, I'd recommend him highly, especially for Neo-Japanese style. He's also pretty well-versed in a variety of styles. I just gave him a rough idea as to subject matter and let him (as the artist) decide the layout and flow of things.

100_0595.jpg

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I've got a chest panel and half-sleeve from Jesse. Like Hogrider says, I'd recommend him highly, especially for Neo-Japanese style. He's also pretty well-versed in a variety of styles. I just gave him a rough idea as to subject matter and let him (as the artist) decide the layout and flow of things.

100_0595.jpg

That chest panel is awesome!

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I think Thomas Hooper pretty much works off vague ideas and body parts-it seems like it would be pretty hard for a customer to just come up with something like that on their own.

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first one was pretty specific since it was my mom's family crest...the other two, i brought in a few things i wanted incorporated, but the design was totally up to him, and i agree...1/2 the fun is just seeing the stencil for the first time :)

i'm no artist, and have no idea how things fit on a body, so i just give a general size and location, and that's about it...only one change was shrinking down one of the symbols...totally love all of mine, it's great to be able to just trust...

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Not sure if it has been pointed out or not......but some tattoo artists do not like to hear you say this to them....at least that has been my experience!

Some prefer you to at least have some concept for them to work off of so they are not having to totally guess what you may or may not want on your body!

My hubby told a notable artist that he "was just stoked to have anything" by the artist and the artist still asked for a list of things so he at least some inspiration for the tattoo!

I myself am not worried about it as I am there to get tattooed by the artist and subject matter doesn't really matter.....but i guess some artists want you to have some idea at least when you walk through the door!

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