in·del·i·ble adjective \in-ˈde-lə-bəl\
: impossible to remove or forget
: producing marks that cannot be erased
Mark Strong has been tattooing since 2010 and has worked with some of the most talented artists in the industry. Mark is able to tattoo in any style but his preference is to tattoo realistic, or photo-realistic tattoos (sometimes referred to as “3-D” for their realistic look) using either black and grey or full color palettes.
About the tattoo experience
Getting a tattoo can be a very personal experience. The tattoo client is allowing the artist to permanently modify their skin through the process of tattooing. Every tattoo artist should be aware of the responsibility their clients have entrusted in them and treat the process with the respect and care it deserves. If your artist isn’t taking your tattoo seriously, perhaps it’s time to consider a different artist.
Choosing the right tattoo artist for you
When choosing your tattoo artist make sure to do your research! Look at the artist’s portfolios and see what types of tattoos they have done. Is it mostly smaller pieces? If so, maybe that’s not the artist you want to tattoo your backpiece. Are all of their previous tattoos done in black and grey? If you’re looking to get a very colorful tattoo they might not be the best artist for your needs. If you don’t see any favored style it’s okay to ask your tattoo artist what their favorite style of tattooing is as there are multiple styles of tattooing offered today: photo-realistic, portraiture, fine-line black & grey, traditional, new-school, and trash-polka, to name just a few. Many tattoo artists also offer a fine-art portfolio as well. The artist’s fine-art portfolio is a great way to learn what style of art the tattoo artist is most passionate about as often times these fine-art paintings and drawings are done in the artist’s free time and without compensation. Remember that there is no such thing as the best tattoo artist. Tattoos are a form of art and therefor their value is subject to opinion, as the old saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” What you want to find is the best tattoo artist for YOU!
What is a tattoo consultation?
Once you’ve had the opportunity to study a tattoo artist’s portfolios your ready to have a consultation with the artist. A tattoo consultation can be a very informal meeting where you discuss with the artist what your tattoo ideas are. During the consultation expect for the artist to ask you questions about your tattoo ideas and try to explain it in as much detail as possible. Using photos or other reference images is fine too, as the main goal of the consultation is for the artist to understand what you have envisioned. Not every idea for a tattoo will necessarily make a good tattoo however. There are many reasons that an idea might not translate well as a tattoo, a common one is that an image on a 2-dimensional piece of paper won’t look the same on a living, breathing, 3-dimensional person! Your artist should let you know if your idea won’t work as a tattoo and they might offer alternatives to your idea such as increasing the size, changing the placement, or altering the image to make it more visually appealing as a tattoo.
The purpose of a tattoo deposit
If, at the end of the consultation, you feel that you’ve found the artist to bring your idea to life, expect to leave a deposit. A tattoo deposit shows that you are as serious about getting your tattoo as your artist is about tattooing it. Be wary of any tattoo artist that is willing to schedule an appointment with you without a deposit in advance as they may not be ready for you when your appointment time comes or they may have scheduled someone else in your place. The tattoo deposit is a commitment from you, the client, that you’ll be ready at the appointed time and when you pay a deposit you should likewise expect that your artist will book your appointed time in their calendar and hold that time for you and you alone. A tattoo deposit is non-refundable and is forfeited to the artist if you fail to show up to your appointment but your artist should keep your deposit in good-standing if you contact them within 24 hours of the appointment and have to cancel or reschedule.
The design phase
In between the time you meet the artist to have a consultation and pay your deposit and the date of your tattoo your tattoo artist will be working on your tattoo design. Depending on the size and complexity of the tattoo in question, this could take only a short time or could take multiple hours for a larger and/or more complex design. During the design phase you might get updates from your artist about your design, or the artist might ask more questions to further refine and perfect your design. For a photo-realistic design the artist will conduct a thorough search for a photograph or series of photographs that best capture the essence of your design. If, for example, you wanted a tattoo of realistic Bluebonnet flowers, the artist will pull photographs from nature almanacs, outdoor or gardening magazines, and the internet. Your artist may then consult with you and offer their qualified opinion on which of the images would work best for your design but they should also listen to your preferences on which reference images are your favorites. Remember to LISTEN TO YOUR ARTIST! You chose them for a reason and if they’re telling you that a design won’t work there’s likely a very good reason for it!
A note about realistic tattoos
A note on the designs for photo-realistic tattoos. A photo-realistic tattoo is a tattoo without the traditional black outline seen on other types of tattoos. The reason for this is simple: real-life does NOT have black outlines! Adding a black outline to a tattoo increases the tattoos visual integrity by adding contrast. In art and tattoos, contrast is very important but it can be achieved without adding a black outline to the image. In place of a black outline, realistic tattoos rely on some type of background to increase their visual integrity and create the visually pleasing contrast that a tattoo needs.