aaronkicks

Question for customers! Portfolios...

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This is something that I've always had a dilemma with. So here is the question, we all started off somewhere and usually not knowing very much about tattoos or what makes a proper tattoo or searched for artists based on a particular style.

So what was it about someone's portfolio that made you want to get tattooed by them? Was it originality? Was it the efficiency of the work and by that I mean solid clean lines, smooth shading, great healed products, or was it just the "cool" factor of your friends getting tattooed there first and recommending that said artist to you?

I'm saying this because I'm at a loss for the direction I want my work to go. I'm in a small town with an overabundance of awful tattoo artists who boast "custom" and "amazing" work but it's all shit. Usually I just do butterflies, tribal, and gnarly new skool pieces all day long but my portfolio is filled with only traditional style tattoos and portraits. Most of these being on my closest friends. So with that being said I want to keep the customer and collector in mind for once and not peers. What is it that you would rather see? A wide variety? Or just the style I prefer the most? This question can apply to anyone its just a thought I've been having.

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As a customer I prefer seeing your best work in your most natural style. By looking at one's portfolio I want to see the stuff you're not only proficient at but stoked on. Since I generally give a relatively simple description of what I want to get tattooed, this works best for both parties because then the artist can put his/her personal spin on my idea and make the best tattoo that I'll be most stoked on and I know it'll be in a style I'm stoked on too. It's the reason I'm saving certain tattoo ideas until I can travel to get tattooed by certain artists ya know?

Then again, it doesn't sound like your current client base looks at your portfolio this way so maybe I'm not the same as your situation...

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i would say it would depend on where u see urself going with ur career. if u plan on staying in that town then u gotta show people what they want to see, if u deal with primarily, un informed clients they are gonna get tattooed by u cause they see what they want in portfolio.

if u plan on making a real good go at what your doing and want to do conventions, travel and guest spots all over the world...then u need to make ur portfolio your best work. u need to show u can hold your own on the global stage.

at the end of the day i could be wrong but thats my opinion.

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Well if your making you portfolio online or in photo albums for in your shop, may I suggest maybe breaking your work down into different categories. Say tattoos on different areas on the body OR maybe black and grays, colour, OR genre of tattoo like horror, cartoon, wildlife, portraits and new/old school imagery. As you said you have completed piles of Butterfly tattoos well take the top 10 or so that you have done and use them for your clients to see. You don't have to have a pic of every tattoo you completed for your portfolio. I would use different albums per category you choose. I like it when I am looking for an artists abilities for a certain type of image I don't want to have to look through all sorts of other images that are irrelevant to what I am looking for. (If I am looking for a flower I don't want to be looking through a pile of bio mech tattoos)

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i work in a street shop. our customers hardly ever ask to see portfolios, partly because we have a long and good reputation. but my book is all my custom stuff in my style. and it's more for my clients and/or people who might search me out or might be attracted to my style. if a "regular" walk-in customer asks to see it, i hand it to them and say something like "there's no lettering (or celtcic, tribal, whatever) in here, but look for clean lines and solid, bright color". then they kind of get it. i started out in a smaller city, and had to do all my "cool" tattoos on friends or friends of friends for cheap, so i can sympathize. that's why i left.

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Hmmm. Well, less is more. I much rather would want to see a portfolio where there is like 20 tattoos with maybe even a brief description about what they really want to do. I mean, why not? If there is a eagle and the artist wants to do eagles that are more like flash from the 1930, as the one he maybe has in his portfolio, and not so much from the 1970's, then write it there. I dont know if artists do this, but there are no rules. Put photographs in your portfolio of stuff you are drawn to. Fucking poems or shit.

And what RockelMan said is a great advice. Its boring to see 300 pics of tattoo work and have no sense of reason in them

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pretty much everything in my portfolio is the work i am most proud of. The majority of it is my custom stuff or work that i thought was "cool" that i did on my friends and what not, but towards the back i have a few photos of other stuff like script and tribal and crosses and shit that 98% of our clients are interested in. i guess i leave that in there so when they ask for that sweet cross and look at my portfolio, they feel better knowing i can give them that sweet chrome shine they were hoping for.

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they feel better knowing i can give them that sweet chrome shine they were hoping for.

Who doesn't want that? I remember walking into Chops' shop Hold Fast when it briefly existed here in BK for a couple years (if that?). I picked up Bailey Robinson's book and whatever the "it" was totally got me. This was a few years ago but his slightly folkier style was immediately apparent and I immediately loved it. You've gotta know your clients but it seems like you should include the tattoos you want to tattoo.

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Yes having a portfolio specifically for the work you have completed that is your most favorite work is a great idea. Who's to say that you cant use those same pics in some of your other portfolios if you went with the idea I had before.

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. If I am looking for a flower I don't want to be looking through a pile of bio mech tattoos.

I personally don't agree with this at all. I've worked many a convention and had my portfolio wrecked because some guy was flipping the pages super fast looking for that one image he has in his mind. Then he goes two tables down and gets a mediocre tattoo from some one that puts his best tattoos of flash in his book. I try and put a variety in my book, showcasing things I like as well as examples of tattoos I can do well. I might have biomech but it doesn't mean I can't tattoo a nice flower. Chances are if I have a book full of sleeves I probably can do your kanji justice too.

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I personally don't agree with this at all. I've worked many a convention and had my portfolio wrecked because some guy was flipping the pages super fast looking for that one image he has in his mind. Then he goes two tables down and gets a mediocre tattoo from some one that puts his best tattoos of flash in his book. I try and put a variety in my book, showcasing things I like as well as examples of tattoos I can do well. I might have biomech but it doesn't mean I can't tattoo a nice flower. Chances are if I have a book full of sleeves I probably can do your kanji justice too.

I was just thinking of someone having a few portfolios, one for wildlife and one for realism for example and have the portfolio labeled on the outside. If a client is to much of a douche to see quality in the artists work then they might as well get a mediocre tattoo from someone else (maybe that's what they were looking for LOL Some people are messed up what can I say?)

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The first thing I look for is the quality of the work. I want good lines, good colors, and good shading. After that, I look to see if they're specializing in a style, or if they cover a wide variety. I compare what they have up to they style I'm looking to have done. If they don't have an example that fits the general style I'm looking for, I move on to another artist.

For me, in this day and age, the MOST important factor is to have an online portfolio. I'm busy, and don't have the time to drive from shop to shop looking at physical portfolios, as much as I would enjoy it. When picking an artist, I browse the shop websites, looking for a portfolio that speaks to me. When I find one, I'll visit the shop to take it a step further, and then book an appointment from there. Artists without online portfolios get skipped. I may be missing out on a great tattooer or 4, but I'll never know....

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well i really like to see how tattooers execute classical stuff.

how they do roses and skulls n snakes.. stuff like that..

i think you can tell alot from the classic..

i really like to see flash work aswell..

always lines and shading of course..

and that the take an intrest in the history and traditon of it all.

its so hard to spot the talented not so known tattooers in this overcrowded world full of not so good ones...

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At 20 yrs old i had NO IDEA what good tattoos were and had this weird assumption that anyone who knew how to tattoo (actually employed at a shop, had worked a number years, etc) could do whatever you asked for. Actually, scratch that-- i got tattooed in people's houses too so basically, as long as you had a machine id sit in the chair.

I don't think I even looked at portfolios, but i did flip through flash when i was waiting around. I also used to live in a small city with just a few shops -- if 90% of people you know with tattoos all have mediocre crap then you start grading your own on curve. I think seeing really good tattoos on other people made a big difference in how i judged quality.

Years and some regrets later and i finally stopped going where my friends worked/ got their stuff done at and starting looking at portfolios with a discerning eye.

Now when i look for someone im usually looking for a portfolio of custom work that mirrors what im into. i dont want to ask someone to do a horror portrait if their portfolio is mostly traditional stuff. and i dont want to ask for traditional stuff from someone whos portfolio is a lot of graffiti looking stuff. I like seeing bright vivid colors... smooth lines... im attracted to nice shading and shadowing... i always focus on birds and roses for some reason. they can win me over. And placement-- if it looks good on the body its on. I always browse through portfolios online though and almost never in the shop. By the time i walk in im pretty sure of what i want and who im there for, not really a walk-in customer.

I guess i feel weird looking through things and judging when people are around, like if i walked out i would feel bad and want to make 100 excuses akin to "its not you, its me. im sorry... please dont hate me."

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i work in a street shop. our customers hardly ever ask to see portfolios, partly because we have a long and good reputation. but my book is all my custom stuff in my style. and it's more for my clients and/or people who might search me out or might be attracted to my style.

This pretty much sums the shop I work at and my portfolio as well.

Well over 95% of any customers at the shop is just walking in to get a tattoo without even considering portfolios and about 3% of those on an afterthought flip through while waiting for me to set up.

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I usually research an artist before I make the appt so I usually just look at portfolios to ogle the pix anyways, but its cool when you can see the care put into them- not everyone does

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I look for all the classic things bold outlines in Black, smooth shading and blends, make sure lettering in straight and spaced evenly. It is my impression that usually what is in a tattooers portfolio is their best work and or what they like to do so I take that into some consideration but it's all relative to the situation. Usually if I make it into a shop I have already looked at the tattooers stuff at least ten times on the internet and I'm ready to get tattooed. Plus If I am going to get tattooed by someone other than my regular group of tattooers its more going to be about what city I am in and who tattoos in that city.

I still look at portfolios when I get there because I always like to see the different ways someone puts one together and pass on the good ideas to the tattooers at my regular shop.

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Hmmm. Well, less is more. I much rather would want to see a portfolio where there is like 20 tattoos with maybe even a brief description about what they really want to do. I mean, why not? If there is a eagle and the artist wants to do eagles that are more like flash from the 1930, as the one he maybe has in his portfolio, and not so much from the 1970's, then write it there. I dont know if artists do this, but there are no rules. Put photographs in your portfolio of stuff you are drawn to. Fucking poems or shit.

And what RockelMan said is a great advice. Its boring to see 300 pics of tattoo work and have no sense of reason in them

i totally agree.. your portfolio can be more than just a tattoo portfolio.. there are no rules.. why not have an art portfolio out there instead? clean lines clear work win clients over but that doesnt have to be your entire book.

if you are at a loss of direction with art, here's the best advice i ever recieved... keep everything you do in art. to find out where you are going, compare where you are to what you did 3 years ago. evaluating your progression can help your direction.

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I usually find out about artists online through their sites, tattoo blogs, and forums. Keep in mind, speaking to artists, I find that most of the time, they're not updating their online stuff constantly, so their work changes. If I'm in a shop with someone and they decide they want something right then or I'm browsing stuff at a convention I look for a) solid lines b) shading c) color d) subject matter. I assume if you have a bunch of traditional or bio-mechanical, that's what you like to tattoo. Even if you had 'gnarly new school' or fine line stuff, I'd like to see your style worked into it.

I would say 'no' to the art and other stuff in a portfolio. If I saw that, I'd figure you didn't have enough strong tattoos to fill your book. I also have seen lot's of beginning tattooers that are better artists on paper/canvas than on skin.

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I would say 'no' to the art and other stuff in a portfolio. If I saw that, I'd figure you didn't have enough strong tattoos to fill your book. I also have seen lot's of beginning tattooers that are better artists on paper/canvas than on skin.

EXACTLY. If any shmuck who could draw tried to tattoo then tattooing would be in a sad state (wait a minute?!.... hahaha)

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When I was a tattoo virgin, I didn't know what to look for besides that someone should have a clean style, and I already knew what I wanted as my first tattoo. What attracted me to people who did really good japanese and traditional custom work was the color palletes, placement, and noticed that letting them take an idea and letting them apply as a tattoo was enough trust in me to let a tattooer do his job.

Now, it's a whole different story. From a customer stand-point, this is what I remember when I turned 18 walking into a tattoo shop.

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While looking through the portfolios of a local shop, I overhear a young girl telling the desk that she's here for her 3PM spot. When the desk asks her with who her reply is, "I don't know". I grimaced at this and thought did you even talk to him about what you wanted or know what style the artist was particularly good at? I find this incredulous that most girls obsess over their hairdressers/nail salons to the point of following them like groupies from shop to shop, have their phone # in their phones and damn sure know to ask for "Ramon's" next available day. I bet you they'll drop hundreds on a Louis-Vuitton bag but will squawk of the same for a Theresa Sharpe piece.

I find this sweeping generalisation of women offensive. The ladies on this forum are incredibly passionate and well learned about their tattoos. If you want to alienate these fantastic women, then please continue making ignorant remarks like this.

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