There may be a lot of tattoo shops in your area. I live in a city of about 38,000 people and there are 4 of them, but only one good one and they’re known as Asylum Tattoo in Lufkin, Texas. They might be the most expensive in town, but that’s because they’re the best. Like Lawrence (shop owner) says, “Cheap work isn’t good and good work isn’t cheap.” Lawrence and his wife Tami are close personal friends of mine and they’re the nicest people I know.
Anyway, on to the shops to know about. In Texas, there is a shop in Dallas known as Liz Cook Tattoo. She is AMAZING. She is always being published in tattoo magazines across the globe for her work that never seizes to amaze the public. Im sure there are more here, but that is the ONE I would love to go to and check out. Of course there are the shops in California that you see on TV with Kat Von D and Cory Miller. But what about Roman Abrego? This is one guy that gives Nikko Hurtado a run for his money. He works and owns a shop in Yucaipa, California called Artistic Element Tattoo. Roman is one of the most talented artists out there. Not only does he tattoo, he also paints and draws. Like I said, talented.
I recently stumbled an artist that I have never heard of. His name is Paul Acker. I checked out his website and it said he has been tattooing for 12 years. This is amazing because he looks my age, maybe a little older. So early 20’s. This guy is throwing out portraits like I’ve never seen. He’s almost a mixture of Paul Booth and Roman Abrego, mentioned earlier. If you don’t know who Paul Booth is, he is known for demonic art. Yeah, it’s kind of dark but it is extremely detailed and awesome. Back to Paul Acker. If you live in Philadelphia, you’re in luck. His shop is in PA and it’s called Deep Six Laboratory. His portfolio is mind blowing and he is always at conventions. It would be worth a trip to PA for me if I were to get tattooed by him.
There are several more shops and artists that I could ramble about, but time is limited. If I have talked you into getting inked, just remember to do your research! Look at portfolios!! I can’t stress that enough. This is going to be on your body forever, you want it to be nice.
Portrait by Paul Acker
Portrait by Paul Acker
Portrait by Roman Abrego
Portrait by Roman Abrego
The man himself, Roman.
Paul Acker and Nikko Hurtado
When you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, design is very important. Everyone wants something original but most of the time, its something that’s been done a million times. The size of your tattoo is crucial to the design as well. If you’re wanting something small to fit on your wrist or another small area, you will want to choose a design that is simple. After time, tattoo ink seems to get ‘fatter’ and if you have something that is small and detailed, it will eventually become a huge blob of nothing. So, like I said the bigger your tattoo, the more detail you can put into it.
If you are getting lettering, like a name, Bible verse or something like that simple is better. Most people chose to do very loopy, curly lettering which is messy looking in my opinion. If you’re getting a lot of lettering, go with basic calligraphy not all of that curly stuff. BUT if you’re getting someone’s name, which you should NEVER do unless they’re your kids, then you can do something curly and eye catching.
I say NEVER get someone’s name besides your kids because your kids will ALWAYS be your kids. Sure, you could be married for 56 years, but it’s a tattoo curse. As soon as you get your partner’s name on you, something will happen to the relationship and you will soon come to dislike that person very much, which will result in a tattoo cover-up! Take my advise. I’ve worked in a tattoo shop for 2 years and that is what I see the most. That and stars. Don’t get star tattoos.
Remember to look at portfolios!! 🙂
You may have a lot of ideas or you may have none at all. Before you sit down in that chair to get inked, there are a few things you should think about. The first and most IMPORTANT thing is the place you go. When you walk into a shop for the first time, the one thing you want to see is portfolios from the artists sitting on the counter and open for everyone. Also, observe around you. Is it clean? Notice how the artist is tattooing. Are there bags over the machines and everything sitting on the table. If not, GET OUT! Cross contamination is one of the most important things that is easily looked over. Make sure that you see the needles and tubes BEFORE they assemble them on the machines. You don’t want a tattoo from dirty needles. (A professional shop will MAKE you look, even if you know they’re clean)
Second, while you observe the portfolio, really look at the art inside. Is it messy or clean and crisp? Does it look like a 2 year old colored it with marker, or does it look like a professional did it? This is an important factor that not many people know. People don’t know when an artist is bad or good, especially if it is their first tattoo. If you think you might be at a bad shop, go check out a few more and remember what the portfolios look like.
When you have found a good shop, now it’s time to think about the tattoo itself. Is it something you would want on your body forever? Are you completely satisfied with the design? If you’re having ANY second thoughts about the design, don’t do it. Listen to your gut. What is that going to look like when you’re 60? The artist should be as excited about the tattoo as you are, and they should be honest. If they think the tattoo is not very original, listen to them and talk about how you could change it up a little bit. After all, they DO get paid for this. If they’re down for anything, they’re probably just in it for the money, and that means they don’t care.
I hope this has helped if you were thinking about getting your first tattoo. Remember, clean, good work and honesty makes for the best work. 🙂