The consultation process is far more important than you’d think. This is where the framework for your new tattoo is set. If ideas are not communicated properly here it can lead to numerous redraws, frustration, and wasted time for both the client and the artist.
Before the Consult:
Have a solid idea of what you’re looking for. This can include reference materials of any type. From rudimentary drawings on a scrap piece of paper to jpegs on your laptop, it’s all helpful in guiding the artist in the proper direction. Think about how you’re going to explain your idea as words can often be interpreted differently than intended. This does not mean that every detail has to be worked out, just the general parameters of subject matter, style, and placement. Images tend to be the clearest form of communication, don’t limit your search solely to other tattoos. For example, if you’re thinking about a bird, going to the source (nature photography) can be helpful. Photos of other tattoos can be helpful as to giving a sense of what you’re looking for but don’t expect to get a direct one to one of another person’s tattoo. This would be disrespectful to both the artist and the recipient of that preexisting piece. Do your research, have a firm grasp on what you’re hoping to get and let your chosen artist create the best piece they’re capable of. Remember that there is a level of trust involved. Some things will work well on paper but they won’t work well in the skin. There are adaptations to be made and if you’ve chosen an artist I hope you’ll respect their opinion as they should be knowledgeable as to what will look best. Trust your instincts. If things don’t seem right from the beginning then perhaps it’s not going to be the proper relationship of artist/client that you’re looking for.
During the Consult:
A discussion will take place, ideas are related and images are looked over. Notes will be taken and perhaps a small (and rough) sketch will be made. A tracing of the body part/general size of the piece is made. Photos are taken if necessary (as in the case of cover-ups or placement next to preexisting pieces). Feel free to ask any and all of the questions you’re thinking about. Once the idea is clear to both artist and client a date can be set for the actual tattoo appointment. A cash deposit is required to book the appointment. Currently a deposit is paid in the sum of the first hour of tattooing ($160). This deposit protects the artist against last minute cancellations or rescheduling and simply prepays a portion of the tattoo. The deposit can be used as partial payment during the final tattoo session. A card with the time/date/deposit amount will be filled out and the consultation is complete.
Note: The consultation process can differ from artist to artist, this is simply how it seems to work best for me.