Understanding the basics.
Think about the budget
While it’s important to be inspired, it’s also important to consider the tattoo budget. As an artist, your time is worth something. So don’t design a time-consuming, detailed piece if your client is working with a small budget. You’ll end up rushing the work and the final product will decline in quality.
Design for every body.
“You’re going to design differently if it’s a forearm tattoo versus the lower back. The curve of the body is different and you need to design with that in mind,” says tattoo artist Carrie Smith. Because the contours of the body are different, the level of pain or discomfort that comes with getting tattooed changes depending on its location. If your client doesn’t handle pain well, you may need to counsel them to avoid specific areas like the ribs or feet.
Pick a size.
After choosing a location for the tattoo, it’s time to choose a size. While the size is affected by the budget, it’s also an aesthetic choice. You’ll need to keep in mind that a tattoo’s size and design affect the needles used and the speed of the tattoo machine. “Small tattoos can actually be harder to do, because you have to run your tattoo machines slower, therefore you tattoo slower,” Salazar notes. When choosing a size, make sure your client is prepared for how size can affect tattooing time, as well as the discomfort that comes with it.
Find your colour palette.
When designing a tattoo, work with the colours of other tattoos already on the body. If you’re designing someone’s first tattoo, ask about their future tattoo ideas. If they’ve got a full sleeve tattoo planned, make sure the wrist piece you’re designing will fit into that aesthetic. Skin tone and undertone should also factor into your colour palette, as different colours show up better on different complexions. Additionally, keep in mind that colour tattoos will need more touch-ups in the future, so they are sometimes better suited to smaller designs.