Tattoo newb seeks advice from inked Dopers.

I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo for years, but never settled on a design that didn’t seem like a bad idea after a few years until recently.

Variants of this design have been rattling around in my skull for over six years, and the linked pic is what I would like to get done.

Before I take it into to the shop, though, I thought I’d run it by people who have a little knowledge of the practical ways that a tattoo gun varies from Photoshop.

Would a good tattooist have any problem with this design? (Understand that I’m a smallish guy - this would necessarily be about three or four inches in diameter. All those wee circles and crap pose any problems, or is it all good?)

Any other advice or opinions are welcome.

I’m not sure how good my artist was, but all the "wee circles and crap (arrowheads?) probably won’t end up being exactly the same.

I’d say print out an actual size picture that you want, and go talk to some artists in your area. They’ll tell you flat out if they can do it or not. Also ask to see their portfolios. Some tattooists specialize in different types of tattoos (old school, tribal, colour, portrait, etc.), and you’ll want someone who is accomplished at doing the type of tattoo you want. Make sure you are 100% comfortable with the artist who is going to do your work.

If you’re going to be in Victoria any time, go see Mike at Stark Raving Tattoo. The work he did on one of my tattoos is just as crisp today as it was when he did it 13 years ago.

That’s great advice; print out your design at (future) life-size, and go show it to a reputable tattoo artist.

Here is some good advice on choosing a good, professional parlor. Example:

Those are all good ideas, and there’s quite a bit more on the linked page. It’s all US-based, though; Canada may have different regulations regarding licensing and such, and I suspect the EPA is somewhat less powerful up there. :smiley:

Larry. Go talk to Dave at Sacred Heart Tattoo off Granville downtown. He does a lot of photo-realistic stuff and that tattoo would be no problem for him.

I had him do a piece for me and he’s one of the few artists I’ve seen who listened to what I wanted and transfered my thoughts exactly onto my skin.

The price is reasonable and he’s a really nice guy.

Your design is pretty straight forward. Black ink, no shading. Most artists would be able to do it. If you don’t go with Sacred Heart, look for someone who does tribal art (which is lots of heavy ink and bold lines - much like your design).

The circles and little arrows shouldn’t be an issue at all. I have much greater detail on several of mine (done by so-so artists)

Also, as for time. I would expect that tattoo to take under two hours if you have a transfer ready image in hand.

All this reminds me… I’m due for another tattoo. I think I’ll head down to Sacred Heart myself and talk with Dave about finishing up something on my arm. Let me know if you want to go at the same time.

Ohhh. Vancouver Tattoodopefest 07!

Thanks for the advice, folks. I was a little worried that the geometry wouldn’t work out when reduced.

I’m 99% certain I’ll go to Art Godoy’s Funhouse. Seems to be in the holy trinity that I keep hearing about agin’ and agin’, and the location works best for me.

Woot! First tat, snuck in sometime before my GF gets 100% coverage. :smiley:

Unless it’s being done free-hand, the artist will place a picture of the design on you and “trace” it with the needle (at least, I think that’s how I remember; it’s been a few years). With this in mind, make sure his location and style of the design is appropriate before he begins to ink it. My tat is a little too high on my shoulder for my taste. And, IIRC, some guy in Illinois got a “Chi town” tattoo that was spelled incorrectly. You want to be certain it’s being done right before permanently inking your body.

Another vote in favor; that thing doesn’t look all that complicated.

I don’t remember my artist tracing it with the needle, but she drew the design and placed it on my arm, leaving an outline of the design. That let me see what it would look like on my arm, and when I said I wanted it in a slightly different place, she washed the ink off and moved the paper. I found that very useful.

All of my tattoos have been done with transfer paper. They use a copy machine to enlarge/unlarge the artwork. Then they run it through a thermal-fax with transfer paper. You end up with a piece of paper and your design in purple ink. Remember ditto machines? Kind of that colour purple. I think at this stage is when the image is reversed but they might do that on the copy machine.

Then they shave the body part to get the ink, clean it, put a little Speed Stick on and press the transfer paper against the skin. It is good for a few transfers because I’ve had them not align the art right. If so, they just clean the area and reapply.

You’re left with a purple image on your skin. It works great.

NEVER NEVER NEVER get a tattoo done free hand.

That is all.

What, no cautionary pics?

You REALLY wanna see a pic of my flabby old ass with a pansy that looks like a mutant orchid on it?

Freehand is bad. Just take my word for it.

Depends on the artist. I’d let Paul Booth tattoo me free hand.

But Larry, I don’t understand. I mean… you rock!

I’ve heard him call that his “anti-prison-rape tattoo”. Not a bad idea…

Freehand isn’t bad if you go to a good artist. A lot of my arm was done freehand, and it looks great (IMHO)
It lets the artist put their own interpretation on it.

And as for the OP, that design will be easily done by someone with even a basic tattoo ability.

I hope it comes out as you like, and you enjoy it for years to come!! :slight_smile:

Got it done today, and it turned out pretty well, I think. I got it on the front of the bicep instead of the side.

Here it is.

Some of the “wee circles and crap” aren’t geometrically perfect, but since those elements are taken from 17th century alchemical figures (which tended to be a bit wobbly anyway,) I’m cool with that.



It looks great, and putting in the white lines to break up the flat black area was a good design idea.