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How did/do you choose a tattooer? Is it based on word of mouth? Internet research? Magazines or articles? Walking into a local shop and looking through the books or the shop helpers recommendations? Or ?????????

Also what was your experience based on your method of choosing?

Edited by Lochlan

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Magazines have played a huge roll in letting me know who was out there.

I guess they still do. Internet, especially social network sites, help spread the word a lot quicker these days

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Interwebz, shop books, word of mouth, and friends hooking it up. I still stand by shop books/portfolios being my favorite indicator (and you get a feel for the vibe of the place that way too.)

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When i choose a tattooer i think about what i wanna get and in which style i wanna get it.then i search the internet for a tattooer which style i like and who i think makes the best job for my tattoo.I also take a look on their flash and drawings because there are tattooers who can just copy things but are not able to draw well.So looking on their flash shows what they really like to do.

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I think traveling is a great quality behind a tattoo artist. Not just statewide, I mean like global travel. Also, the internet has played a huge part in choosing a great artist. Its so easy for them to get their work out for people to see... But I just like some one who likes to joke around and is serious enough to do a good job, but likes to have fun...

I feel like I'm editing a match.com profile right now.

David Flores likes this

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At this point, I've got a steadily growing list of tattooers I'd like to get work from.. I'd say half magazines/interviews/internet and half word of mouth. Seems a lot of it is in conversation or an interview when someone tosses out names and I might not know a name so I'll go try to do some research in books/internet/magazines.

But a good attitude is what makes me want to keep going back. My first big tattoo was done by Dave Wallin. It was snowing and near closing time and he wasn't at the shop, so the owner called him up, Dave came down, talked to me and wasn't a prick, drew up a sketch and we put on the outline. Five years later, Dave's done a bunch of my tattoos, I worked in his shop and while I had to give it up for my day job, I still help out on wknds scrubbing tubes. A good attitude can make you wanna do that.

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The reasons why in no particular order Lochlan... At first I got tattooed because I thought they were "RAD"... Then as I started apprenticing I got tattooed by artist with unique styles so I could try to learn... I really owe that reason because of Nick Rodin and Cody Miller said it was a good way too... Unfortunately I am way into art and have too many influences just stick to one genre of tattooing... Jack of all trades and a master of none... Pretty much sums up my style of tattooing as well... As I got more tattoos and started getting larger pieces I started choosing artist that have a good positive outlook and/or vibe like Chris Conn, Scott Slyvia, Jeff Rassier and Small Paul Stottler... I feel it easier to be tattooed by people who are in that mind frame... Not too mention you get stuck with them over longer periods of time ... However I do need to mention that Jason McAffee and Juan Puente have done quite a few tattoos on me over the years as well which would equal a very large amount of space due to the same reason... I also think the Southern California influence really stood out more in them as well as there work... Ironically they both are in the Bay... Might be because there seems to be less stress and drama up there... Overall I like what I like regardless of what anyone else thinks... All in all I am glad with my decisions and look forward to having a few more to fill in the gaps... Overall they are all just moments/memories we get to take with us...

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I'd boil it down to a combination of style and attitude. A tattooer's work to get me in the door and how well we get along to keep me coming back. Trouble is, there are so many I still want to get work from it can be tough!

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I asked a heavily tattooed co-worker for some good reccomendations on female tattoo artist in Toronto and thats how i ended up at Speakeasy. before going in person to make my appointment i did as much research online as i could to make sure i really wanted to go to that shop. once i was there( as nervouse as i was) the vibe of the shop really resonated with me and i knew that it was the right place.

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Yep I agree. When people ask me, I always take the time to tell people about how my tattoos. Which artist and from which shop or how to contact them.

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It seems that it is a trial and error method but friends referrals are the most useful.....

Old thread I know but it is relavent to me right now. You folks have all been very patient with me so far and I appreciate it but at 40 something and getting my first tattoo, I have questions. Hmmm, is there a word for non-tattooed people that only tattooed people use?

Anyway, the problem I am having with picking an artist is that it all looks pretty good to me and I am having trouble finding the line between pretty good and really good. That may sound silly but I guess my eyes havent trained well enough to see the subtle differences. Sometimes a tattoo will get posted on this site and I will think it looks pretty cool and others will say it is utter crap. Maybe I knew it wasnt excellent but I am sometimes surprised at what is called bad.

I am pretty much going to pick someone in my general area as I dont have the budget to spend money on travel AND a tattoo. And its not like I am getting a full back done or anything. Just a pretty good sized tattoo on my upper arm .......................... to start. Dont get me wrong, I'd love to catch Tim Hendricks in Miami and have him do something but I have no idea if he still comes down and I am guessing I wouldnt be able to afford a more widely known artist like that. I've seen a couple of interviews with him and love his passion for the art and he seems like a really cool guy. Miami only an hour or so away so it's not big travel or anything.

I cant imagine that is going to happen so I continue to look around here. So when looking at local guys, what is it I should be looking for in their books or online portfolios that separates them from the pack? There are so many shops within an hour of me that it is a lot of work to look at.

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@Johnny

I would just see who is tattooing other tattooers, especially some of the great tattooers who are on here. The classic, asking a doctor who they would trust to work on them or their family. At least that will point you in the right direction.

Plus, if you have waited this long to get a tattoo, why can't you wait several months to a year or two longer to get something awesome from someone who is awesome. Big piece, small piece, etc. doesn't really matter, it's ink permanently on your skin.

It's what I am doing.

edit: @Iwar put up a pretty cool thread along the same lines as above.

http://www.lastsparrowtattoo.com/forum/tattoo-101/1437-san-francisco-treasures.html

After a while, you just get an eye for it, I think. Honestly, you don't need to be a film-maker to know what a good movie is, a film-maker might know what makes the movie good (behind-the-scenes), but you don't really need to know that for what you are seeking.

But excited for you and looking forward to seeing what you end up with, happy times!

Gregor likes this

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...is there a word for non-tattooed people that only tattooed people use?

There is, but we can't tell you until you get tattooed.

@Johnny, you are in Florida, right? Mike Wilson is in Florida. There's a good chance that your some of your favourite tattooers get tattooed by him.

One of my customers just got a tattoo from him while visiting Florida. I got a tattoo from him a few years ago, much to the annoyance of the other guys I work with.

Mike works at Inksmith & Rogers in Jacksonville.

But the bigger question is: Why do you care so much what internet tattoo snobs think about the tattoo you get?

Just get a tattoo from someone who's work you like.

We all have tattoos we love that other people don't think so much of. Having a tattoo is way more important than wishing for the perfect design from the perfect person.

Duffa, Lochlan, Johnny and 7 others like this

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At the moment I guess there is a kind feedback loop from when I go to conventions, read magazines, talk to artists and other clients and hear word-of-mouth, see pics on blogs ... It all percolates away and somewhere down the line I come up with an idea about what is feasible to follow through on.

I have a kind of shortlist in my head of artists I'd still like to cross paths with and get a piece from... I'm not in a rush, so I'm kind of thinking it will happen down the line at the likes of the London Convention. This shortlist shuffles around a bit the more I see.

Maybe everyone is different but for me some of the big 'fucking hell - I've got to get tattooed by that person' came about from magazine interviews or features on artists/studios. Kind of low-tech in the internet age, but somehow for me an interview (text) combined with the accompanying pictures seems to give me the best sense of whether it's for me or not. I love a really good interview (love books like 'Tattooing from japan to the west' and 'Under way is the only way' for that reason).

It was seeing spreads on Mo Coppoletta (The Family Business) and also on Ching (East Tattoo) that got me in the chair the first time... And then it was the experience I had that meant I came back / am going back.

Duffa likes this

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There is, but we can't tell you until you get tattooed.

Beautiful response. Now I am more anxious than ever.

Mike works at Inksmith & Rogers in Jacksonville.

I know of Mike and that shop. Jax is about 4 hours away and I dont know that I am willing to go that far just for the tattoo. Again, my budget is small. I guess if we were going up that way for something else and I made it part of the trip it would work.

But the bigger question is: Why do you care so much what internet tattoo snobs think about the tattoo you get?

I am not sure if I do care that much. What happens to me typically is I get an idea in my head and I do far more research than most people would ever do. I got into playing guitar about 5 years ago and of course learned everything about every guitar even before I could play. Same thing happened with cycling. I get obsessed and try to learn everything anytime I get interested in something. Tattoos are turning out to be no different. I honestly just want to find a good solid artist and have a good experience. It would be really cool to get one from someone with a reputation like Mike or Tim but it is not a must for me.

Or maybe I'm becoming a tattoo cork sniffer before I even have one. Who knows?

Thanks all for your input. It feeds my obsession.

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@Johnny, dude, just get a tattoo.

Don't presume just because a tattooer is well known or 'famous' that they are expensive. Shitty tattooers can be expensive too.

You'll waste hours of your life taking to strangers on the internet but you won't travel 4 hours to get a world-class tattoo?

Like the saying goes "Everyone gets the tattoo they deserve." (Yes, I have shitty tattoos too)

Really there isn't a 'secret name' we all call you. There is no 'tattoo community' that once you're inside, everything is different. You'll just be the same dude but with a tattoo. Enjoy it.

Heavy tattoo coverage of good quality, well that's a different thing entirely.

Until you get tattooed, I'll always think of you as a tourist.

I appreciate tattoos and tattooing are interesting, but they are our lives. Not just something we spend a lot of time pursuing but the foundation of our lives.

The difference with tattooing is when you find a new 'obsession', your tattoo, that you didn't want to pay too much for, will still be there.

Try not to confuse procrastination with research. Some of the best things about having tattoos are actually wearing them, being a tattooed person. No amount of research will give you that.

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@Johnny, dude, just get a tattoo.

Pretty much sums it up right there. Just get one. Most of mine are pretty spur of the moment things and I understand people who want to think and dwell on it, but it just comes down to walking in and saying "This is what I want... lets do it". You will either love the experience and turn into a junkie like most of us, or will just wind up having a single tattoo. Either way, you did it.

Duffa, gougetheeyes and Gregor like this

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@Stewart Robson, I feel like a tournist too.

That said, I am wasting my time with you lot while I am saving up some money for the tattoo. So as long as I am wasting my time, I might as well ask stupid questions.

And my problem isnt driving 4 hours, it's paying for gas and a possible hotel room. I'd rather put all of the money I save toward the tattoo. That doesnt mean I wouldnt or wont end up driving to J-ville to see Mike but I am probably going to need some buy in from my better half on that one.

I gotta say I am a little dissapointed there is no secret handshake or something. I was looking forward to the benefits of membership.

And please dont take my rambling or possibly stupid questions as disrespect for what you guys do. I am actually amazed by what tattooers can do on a living canvas. I am the guy who has never been able to draw so someone who can draw or paint is impressive to me. Someone who can do it on someone's body is amazing.

I honestly appreciate you taking time to offer your input on a forum like this. We (barren skinned) are certainly lucky to have this resource that includes you and others with such expertise and experience.

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Pretty much sums it up right there. Just get one. Most of mine are pretty spur of the moment things and I understand people who want to think and dwell on it, but it just comes down to walking in and saying "This is what I want... lets do it". You will either love the experience and turn into a junkie like most of us, or will just wind up having a single tattoo. Either way, you did it.

I hear you. My current situation is I am using the procedes of selling off a couple of things to pay for the tattoo. If I could talk some dumbass into buying my stuff, I'd go get it. We will see how the first goes but I have a couple of things I would like to get in addition. I dont see being really heavily tattooed but I guess some folks on here probably said that at one point as well.

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I'd rather put all of the money I save toward the tattoo.

So would I but the cost of travel etc is all part of it unless you live close to a good shop. Surely there must be some excellent shops and artists in the State of Florida?

Would I rather put the money I spend on travel to London towards a tattoo from an artist in my home town?

I would rather saw off my dick with a rusty blunt breadknife.

Jake, Duffa, asradin and 4 others like this

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Could not agree more @jade1955. The stuff I have from the parlours near me is by comparison to Frith St just absolute crap. Spend the money to travel to a good tattooist and get a smaller tattoo. You'll always be able to get more money, but the tattoo you get will last forever.

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