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New guy with some questions

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Finally got 10 posts and can start my own threads, hooray! Here's my story and hopefully you guys can give me some advice. I already have two smal tattoos, both your standard Marine Corps style. One is a bulldog head on my chest and the other is a USMC on my shoulder (I posted pictures in my Introduction thread). Nothing spectacular, just your standard walk-in grab it off the wall generic tattoos. I want to get something more elaborate n my shoulder, probably about 6X6 inches. Here are my questions:

1. I'd be covering up my lame "USMC" tattoo with a better Marine-themed tattoo, is that a more difficult process than starting with a blank space?

2. I want something unique. How much work can I expect a tattooer (is that the correct term) to put in to designing something for me? When I got my first tattoo, the guy made it seem like a huge hassel to have him come up with something unique. He said it would cost about $150 just for the artwork design...and that was 1994, just to do lettering. I have to keep this new tattoo within about a $200 budget. My brother's wife is graphic designer, could I save some money if she designed something or do tattooers prefer to design their own stuff?

3. Speaking of budget, are certain tattoos quicker and less expensive to do? I'm guessing that a realistic eagle tattoo with tons of detail would take longer than a Ed Hardy style eagle. Is that the case?

4. If I'm looking at about a $200 tattoo, how much time do you think a tattooer will be willing to spend with me discussing options? I know they are busy people and don't want to wast anyone's time or keep him/her from other business.

I hope I don't sound like a cheap-skate, but I really don't have an unlimited budget and the wife isn't exactly 100% behind this decision (but she is coming around). I have a lot more questions to ask, but I'll save them for other threads. Thanks.

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1. yes it is more difficult, especially if the original tattoo is black or another dark colour. The tattooer you end up choosing will be able to advise you on the cover-up-ability of the tattoo you have.

2. It sounds like the guy you're referring to is an asshole. Designing custom artwork for clients is one of the main parts of being a tattooer. It's not totally out of control to ask for a deposit on large artwork (for example a back piece). This is so that when you never come back they won't have wasted their week designing your large scale tattoo. Any tattooer worth a shit should have zero problem designing your tattoo. If they aren't super busy it's not unreasonable for them to have a drawing to show you within a week or so. Like I said they may want a deposit of usually $40-60 which should go towards to the total cost of the tattoo. I do not recommend having a non-tattooer design your tattoo. They don't know what will work and what won't, especially with a cover up.

3. Generally tattoos on arms and legs cost less than having the same design done of the chest, stomach or ribs. This is because it ends up taking longer due to the tricky area and generally the pain level is a lot higher and causes the client to want more breaks. Sounds like you're thinking of your shoulder though so it should be a fairly easy area to tattoo. As far as a realistic eagle vs. and old school one, both can be done quickly, and both can be dragged out into super long sessions. It's really hard to say without looking at an actual drawing, but you are correct, the bigger and more detail, the longer and more expensive.

4. At the shops I am familiar with, $200 with get you about a palm sized tattoo, maybe a little larger. What you are describing would fit into that budget or close to it, that is assuming you don't have gigantic biceps and the tattoo getting covered is fairly small. Keep in mind when covering a tattoo you will have to get a much larger one over top. So look at your tattoo and then imagine one 2-3 times the size to cover it.

My advise since you live in California is to check out the LST Preferred Professionals list. There are sooooo many amazing, and I really mean amazing, tattooers in Cali. Pick out some that you like and go visit their shop, chat with whoever's there about the tattoo you want and see what they think. Ask them for a quote and be up front about your budget so they know what you're working with. There will be a moment when you go into a shop and realize that 'this is the place' and 'that's the tattooer'.

Here's a link to the Preferred Vendor list I mentioned : http://www.lastsparrowtattoo.com/forum/member-referrals/43-lst-preferred-tattoo-professionals.html

Also I'm sure that the guys who run the site would always be happy to help you out, they can be found at BlackHeart Tattoo in San Francisco

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Shopping on price is a massive mistake IMHO.

Tattooing is like anything else you buy and quality comes at a price.

My advice for what its worth. Look at the gallery, there's some great tattoos on there. Find an idea or design you like. Find a good artist. Im sure there are some great tattoo shops in San Diego (I'm from the UK so I can't recomend any). Get a quote pay a deposit and set a date. If you need to save some money set a date months away and start saving.

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Shopping on price is a massive mistake IMHO.

Tattooing is like anything else you buy and quality comes at a price.

My advice for what its worth. Look at the gallery, there's some great tattoos on there. Find an idea or design you like. Find a good artist. Im sure there are some great tattoo shops in San Diego (I'm from the UK so I can't recomend any). Get a quote pay a deposit and set a date. If you need to save some money set a date months away and start saving.

Good advice. I don't plan to try to haggle the artist. I want quality over quantity, so I'd prefer a superior smaller tattoo over a larger crappy one.

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1. yes it is more difficult, especially if the original tattoo is black or another dark colour. The tattooer you end up choosing will be able to advise you on the cover-up-ability of the tattoo you have.

2. It sounds like the guy you're referring to is an asshole. Designing custom artwork for clients is one of the main parts of being a tattooer. It's not totally out of control to ask for a deposit on large artwork (for example a back piece). This is so that when you never come back they won't have wasted their week designing your large scale tattoo. Any tattooer worth a shit should have zero problem designing your tattoo. If they aren't super busy it's not unreasonable for them to have a drawing to show you within a week or so. Like I said they may want a deposit of usually $40-60 which should go towards to the total cost of the tattoo. I do not recommend having a non-tattooer design your tattoo. They don't know what will work and what won't, especially with a cover up.

3. Generally tattoos on arms and legs cost less than having the same design done of the chest, stomach or ribs. This is because it ends up taking longer due to the tricky area and generally the pain level is a lot higher and causes the client to want more breaks. Sounds like you're thinking of your shoulder though so it should be a fairly easy area to tattoo. As far as a realistic eagle vs. and old school one, both can be done quickly, and both can be dragged out into super long sessions. It's really hard to say without looking at an actual drawing, but you are correct, the bigger and more detail, the longer and more expensive.

4. At the shops I am familiar with, $200 with get you about a palm sized tattoo, maybe a little larger. What you are describing would fit into that budget or close to it, that is assuming you don't have gigantic biceps and the tattoo getting covered is fairly small. Keep in mind when covering a tattoo you will have to get a much larger one over top. So look at your tattoo and then imagine one 2-3 times the size to cover it.

My advise since you live in California is to check out the LST Preferred Professionals list. There are sooooo many amazing, and I really mean amazing, tattooers in Cali. Pick out some that you like and go visit their shop, chat with whoever's there about the tattoo you want and see what they think. Ask them for a quote and be up front about your budget so they know what you're working with. There will be a moment when you go into a shop and realize that 'this is the place' and 'that's the tattooer'.

Here's a link to the Preferred Vendor list I mentioned : http://www.lastsparrowtattoo.com/forum/member-referrals/43-lst-preferred-tattoo-professionals.html

Also I'm sure that the guys who run the site would always be happy to help you out, they can be found at BlackHeart Tattoo in San Francisco

Great stuff. Thanks! I've been looking at local shops on line that have been recommended here. I really like Guru so far. Champ's work really impressed me. I think I'll shoot him an e-mail and see what happens. The piece I'm covering is pretty small and faded.

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@Blank I would keep refining what you want and save more money. I think the tattooer and you will be happier, you will get what you want and he wont have to be confined to your smallish budget allowing him to put down a more visually pleasing tattoo.

I still have to figure out what I want. I want something Marine Corps/patriotic themed, but I don't just want a standard "USMC" or just an EGA all by itself. I want to incorporate a few images together like an EGA, a panther and a cool eagle with a flag in the background. I might be pricing myself out of my budget.

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I would say wait and save your money. I am really happy that I waited till I had an "unlimited" budget so that money didn't ended up effecting the end product even if it was just down to a smaller design. In the end it is permanent and you don't want to do a cover up on cover up!

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you could get a $200 tattoo on your shoulder and have something that looks good but it may not fit your requirements or expectations regarding size and the need to include a cover up in the tattoo.

if $200 is what you've got to spend then maybe focus on getting a different tattoo and save the coverup. that old tattoo ain't goin nowhere so it can be covered later on.

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Some damn good advice being given!

Yeah $200 won't go very far from a good tattooer in San Diego. I grew up down there and go down fairly often checking out shops..... @nico is in San Diego I believe and maybe he can assist....

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$200 where I'm from will get you about a palm or baseball sized tattoo, maybe a little larger depending on the design/detail.

At the same time there's places that will charge $200 for an entire days work. Point being, good work costs more. Prices are 100% dependant on who's doing the tattoo. It's really really hard to say without seeing what you want and without knowing even what you might want as a design.

To answer your question straight forward though, no $200 is not a lot for a shoulder sized tattoo on a larger sized man. To me when you say shoulder I'm imagining the top of your arm. Is that where you mean? Or do you mean the top of your back behind/beside your arm?

I have the top shoulder part of both my arms done. One of the tattoos cost me I think $150 and the other was I think $200, they were done by Richard Stell and Eli Quinters. Both those guys are friends so I did get a bit of a price deal. I am also pretty small and the tattoos are maybe 6x6.

Like everyone else said though, the more you can save towards the tattoo, the bigger, better tattoo you'll be able to get. If I was you, I'd wait till I had at least $300. Also keep in mind although it's not necessary to tip the artist, it's always a nice thing to do if you're happy with the work. On a $300 tattoo, personally I'd want to tip about $50-$75.

Whatever you do end up doing, please please please please do not try to call the shop and get a quite over the phone.

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Not trying to be the last one to the party, but Champ's style seems to lean on the realistic side. From my experience a realistic tattoo usually takes longer than a japanese or traditonal tattoo. I would imagine the going rate for a tattoo in San Diego would be around 180-200/hr(top shops) and I could easily see a shoulder tattoo taking a couple hours hours especially a realistic one . Also keep in mind whatever you cover your tattoo with is going to need a lot of black wherever the old tattoo is, and in general a coverup is more labor intensive than tattooing a blank space. The rest Champ or whoever decides to tattoo you can fill in you in on what he charges and what they can do for you, but just thought I would put my 2 cents in and wish you good luck on your tattoo.

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$200 where I'm from will get you about a palm or baseball sized tattoo, maybe a little larger depending on the design/detail.

At the same time there's places that will charge $200 for an entire days work. Point being, good work costs more. Prices are 100% dependant on who's doing the tattoo. It's really really hard to say without seeing what you want and without knowing even what you might want as a design.

To answer your question straight forward though, no $200 is not a lot for a shoulder sized tattoo on a larger sized man. To me when you say shoulder I'm imagining the top of your arm. Is that where you mean? Or do you mean the top of your back behind/beside your arm?

I have the top shoulder part of both my arms done. One of the tattoos cost me I think $150 and the other was I think $200, they were done by Richard Stell and Eli Quinters. Both those guys are friends so I did get a bit of a price deal. I am also pretty small and the tattoos are maybe 6x6.

Like everyone else said though, the more you can save towards the tattoo, the bigger, better tattoo you'll be able to get. If I was you, I'd wait till I had at least $300. Also keep in mind although it's not necessary to tip the artist, it's always a nice thing to do if you're happy with the work. On a $300 tattoo, personally I'd want to tip about $50-$75.

Whatever you do end up doing, please please please please do not try to call the shop and get a quite over the phone.

Yes, just the upper arm on the deltoid. I have to be able to cover it with a t-shirt. I'm not a real big guy, 5'8", 175lbs. About a 6X6 or 5X5 would be perfect. The more that I think about it, the more I want to just build something around the tattoo that is already there. I sent an e-mail to Champ at Guru with my budget and my ideas just to get his thoughts. Told him quality is more important than quantity, so if I have to go smaller and less complicated, that's fine.

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I think that if you're saying "I have this much money, what can I get?" you're already in trouble.

I do have to keep it reasonable. I've been reading a lot of threads here and from what I gather it is important to establish a budget before deciding on what to get, or else I might end up with a $700 tattoo and end up not being able to feed the kids.

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I do have to keep it reasonable. I've been reading a lot of threads here and from what I gather it is important to establish a budget before deciding on what to get, or else I might end up with a $700 tattoo and end up not being able to feed the kids.

Yea it is very good to establish a loose budget. The way I go into getting a tattoo is guesstimate the cost (say $500) then add on another sessions cost incase it runs over budget. That is the ideal way in my opinion, so you don't end up watching the clock while getting tattooed. I ended up doing that once, and it was terrible! Make sure you got at least another hours pay with you just in case!

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Most of us have to be concerned with budget but when cost becomes a significant factor in getting a tattoo I'm afraid you could be setting yourself up for sub par work. Maybe you should take some time and save up more and be better financially prepared to afford a good tattoo and not be concerned with not being able to feed your family. A $200-300 budget for a shoulder tattoo isn't really that much.

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Forget emails dude (if time and distance permit), find a shop or tattooer you're into and just go talk to them. If you can loosen up your budget a bit that'd also be a plus just to be safe. Don't forget, like any other service it's also good form to tip. Lastly, I'll stick to other "advice" I've given before, to just get more tattoos. But make sure they're nicer ones that you're happier with.

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actually gouge is right, you should put the $200 or whatever amount it ends up being towards some new tattoos! I guess that is if you plan on having lots of tattoos and not just the one...

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So is $200 not a lot for a shoulder sized tattoo?

I echo every one and say save your money. Don't miss the opportunity to get a fucking stellar tattoo since you're in Cali, over the issue of money.

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actually gouge is right, you should put the $200 or whatever amount it ends up being towards some new tattoos! I guess that is if you plan on having lots of tattoos and not just the one...

I don't plan on having a lot of tattoos, but I'd like to have one really nice, unique piece. The ones I have are pretty tame. I think I can just add and eagle or a panther to the one on my shoulder and have something really cool.

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I echo every one and say save your money. Don't miss the opportunity to get a fucking stellar tattoo since you're in Cali, over the issue of money.

Are California tattooist better?

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