So, you’ve made up your mind about getting your next (or first!) tattoo. But that’s merely the first step into this journey. The next thing to figure out is what type of tattoo you want and whether or not you can have some input into the final result.
After all, sometimes it can be hard to let the artists know what you have in mind and how you want it done. This leads to a fair question that tattoo enthusiasts often have: can I draw my own tattoo?
The answer is pretty simple: yes, you can create a tattoo yourself. However, don’t pick a pencil and start drawing your custom design on paper just yet. Knowing the basics is essential in designing a tattoo, and that’s exactly what you will learn here. Learn the following tips to design tattoos the right way:
Start by looking closely at different tattoo styles to decide which one will be the base for the idea you have in mind. Tattoo styles are important because they give you a better idea of the complexity level, how your drawing will look at the end, and the meaning behind the ink art.
For example, a realism tattoo that actually looks real requires immense skill and talent. Even drawing a recognizable portrait on paper is tricky, so imagine the skill it takes to translate this to skin. You might also consider an American traditional design, because as many tattooers say, “bold will hold.” On the other hand, you might be more attracted to watercolor designs that inspire you to use your creativity to the fullest to create a captivating and fantasy-like custom tattoo. So, yeah! Choose a style, and use it as inspiration to create tattoos.
Keep in mind another important part when you design a tattoo is figuring out where you want it. Choosing the right spot for tattoo placement is also an essential step because some areas of the body hurt more than others. You may want to reconsider if you choose areas like the ribs, hands, or feet, as these body parts are often painful under the needle. If it’s your first time, enduring the pain can be a major bummer and could derail your interest in being a tattoo designer.
Shoulders and forearms, though? They’re just fine, and the pain is barely noticeable. Start on those areas, learn how to avoid tattoo pain, and design tattoos using your creativity.
Also, some designs just won’t look good on certain parts of the body. Remember, a tattoo design drawn on a flat piece of paper isn’t going to look the same wrapped around an arm or leg. And you won’t believe how much a tattoo will change and stretch if placed on certain stretchy areas like your torso.
You might even try drawing your design on yourself in marker or getting it printed as temporary tattoos to try out. Use it to check how it looks on a specific body location and whether the design ends up looking as you pictured it.
Ultimately, if you don’t like how the temporary tattoo looks, redesign your art concept and perhaps change its placement. And consider finding a tattoo artist who is up to collaborate with you. (Trust us, they have the experience to help make this process much faster.)
Knowing how to draw is a massive part of designing tattoos, but don’t worry if you think your skills on the paper aren’t a high enough level yet. These days, there are multiple tools that you can use to create a layout of what you want, which you can then give to tattoo artists as a reference to start working on your drawing. Get started and google your idea or scroll through Instagram and create a mood board from there.
Pinterest is an online and free medium that offers a wide catalog of options you can use for inspiration, so that’s definitely something you should try. Find art, photos, tattoo designs, or drawings that resemble the type of tattoos you’re looking for, and use it for inspiration and as an effective way to share your vision with a professional tattoo artist. And keep this advice in mind: it’s a huge taboo to try to get an exact copy of someone else’s tattoo, so make sure you’ve got a wide variety of references to make sure you get custom artwork.
Finding the right tattoo artist is probably the hardest part of the process because not every artist will want to tattoo a design they haven’t drawn themselves. Therefore, this step requires plenty of research to locate professional tattoo artists, see their work, and schedule a meeting to discuss your tattoo ideas.
Communication is key, so make sure to let them know what you have in mind and whether they will be open to working with your ideas. When you find the right artist to work with, as we mentioned previously, their experience and expertise can get you from concept to actual tattoo design much faster.
They will also let you know the pros and cons of your design, like in which part of the body it will look better. An experienced tattoo artist will steer you in the right direction and give you helpful tips about placement and longevity. For example, a placement that keeps a colorful tattoo out of the sun is a good idea, whereas tattoos on the hands and fingers often fade away quickly and need a ton of touch ups.
If you’re not sure how to proceed here, check out this piece on how to pick the right artist for you. And don’t shy away from collaborating with a pro artist!
If you are asking this question, then you already have a good mindset to find the right artist to complete your tattoo design.
The answer to this question is different for every tattoo artist, and it is a question you will need to ask when looking for the right tattoo artist for you. Some tattoo artists may say yes, it’s rude and won’t work with you if you want to give them more art direction than just providing references.
Some may say, no, it’s not rude, and will be happy to collaborate with you, so you get the excitement of having a tattoo of your own art. Be sure to ask this question upfront when considering different artists or tattoo shops.
If you loved this process, consider a career as a tattoo artist where you get paid to design and create beautiful tattoos! There’s nothing more rewarding that creating art that people love so much, they want it permanently added to their skin!
Talk to one of our advisors to learn more about how to become a tattoo artist and consider a tattoo apprenticeship with Ink Different Tattoo School. We’re here to support you on your tattoo journey and have plenty of advice for aspiring tattoo artists!