With the coming of the new year, their s a further changing of the guard. Out with the old, in with the new. And that could not make me happier, when that truth also applies to ink, and it’s greater acceptance. Hell, even my mother, in her 50’s now, (sorry ma) has considered getting one. And why not? There is a certain rebelliousness about them, that makes every bearer, feel….well, alive. To step away from the norm, and express yourself, how YOU want too, on your OWN terms? Not to be all “YOLO” about it, but it’s true. You only live once. So you better live it how you wanted.
Now, having co-owned a shop in my past, I will be the first to tell you….most people don’t know the difference between good and GREAT art. I’ve seen people come in with a $35 dollar tattoo, that looked, eh, not “bad”, but definitely what they paid for! But, when they were quoted a price, they showed that tattoo like it was a picasso, stating how much they paid, and questioning why we weren’t at the same price range. This is the tricky part about the industry. Because, what is a tattoo REALLY worth to you? I remember a guy showing me his tattoo that he got from Kat Von Dee’s shop. Some basic writing on the inside of his arm. Nothing crazy. Paid $500 for it. I asked him the name of the artist, and he couldn’t tell me. So, what did he really pay for? Name recognition. He paid the extra money to say he had his tattoo done at a world famous shop. When looking for a shop, ask yourself, what are you looking to get out of the work that will be done on you? Is it about the quality, the price or the name recognition. All three are VERY important in your selection. Example, you may know a shop, GREAT prices, quality work, but the shops name is “MUD”! Meaning, when you say where you got it, the first thing that person says is “I heard they are jerks!” Or, “I heard that place is BOGUS”. Having a hot tattoo, from a place with a crappy reputation devalues your art work immediately! And seeing as how they will be on you for the rest of your life, that might be something you want to avoid. My suggestion, when looking for a shop to get work done, make a check list.
- What are people saying about it? And, don’t ask just those that are repeat customers. They are loyal fans of “Zamunda”, and have a biased out look on the shop that has probably been hooking them up, and has done ALL of their ink. Ask and look for reviews. Even try to find people that aren’t fans, to see why they aren’t.
- Most tattoo shops are “comfort zones”. Meaning, everyone there is pretty laid back, and go with the flow. However, that shouldn’t translate over to their service, when you are serious about what you want to put on your body for the rest of your life. If they act like they don’t have time, could care less if you come or go, are not professional, or even speak with you like they will “try” to fit you in, RUN! And never look back. They will miss appointments, over charge, and underachieve.
- Ask little questions like “Have you done any conventions?” If yes, ask to see some of the work they did there. This is important, not because every artist or shop has to have done a convention. But, it will give some insight into how deep into the culture and art they are. Are they serious about getting their art out there, and learning and sharing new techniques, etc, or, are they really just a step above getting work done at your local basement shop. Again however, this is more about them in their trade, than it is about them and their skills. If they have been open for more than 2 yrs, and have never been in a convention? You have to question how much traffic they actually get in their shop, that they can’t afford to do at least one a year. Just a thought.
- And last but not least, ask to look at their most recent work done. Every artist should have a portfolio. I had an artist once, his portfolio was amazing. And not simply because of his work, but that it all had a purpose. Each picture was representative of the different types of shading, lining, gradients, coloring, etc. It was the FIRST and only time an artist didn’t just show me his work, but also explained to me WHY they were in his portfolio. This is important because, they are not only showing you the quality of their work, their showing you why it has such quality. And trust me, there is a greater sense of security when an artist can tell you AND show you how and why they are the artist for you.
There is no magic pill that will guarantee your tattoo or piercing experience. Worse, tattoo’s are such an impulsive decision, we rarely ever think it through much. Fingers crossed, hope for the best. Sometime’s that’s ok. But, when it’s time to get that piece that you KNOW has to be dead on, do your home work people. Tattoo’s are no different than the rest of the markets. Deals are out there. But don’t be a sucker. It’s winter people. Tattoo season! I’m lining up some shops and artists from all over the world, to help display and explain why, at the end of the day, REAL shops and artists are ALL IMAGE, no gimmicks!