Tattoos are the most personal form of artwork you will ever buy.  Choose something that you love - think about your passions, your hobbies and anything imagery you have always been drawn to.  It doesn't have to mean anything deep - though of course its fine if it does have a special meaning to you.  Don't worry about actually designing the tattoo - that's the tattooist's job.  But if you want to do sketches, print out ideas and pull together a mini "shopping list" of what you want in your tattoo, that is all very helpful.


Once you know WHAT you want, you can choose the right artist.  Many are all rounders, some are good at everything and some are rubbish at everything! Always check out portfolios and make sure you know the quality of the tattooists work before booking.  There are many more bad artists out there than good ones - beware!  Ensure their portfolio is consistent - a few good tattoos among a lot of mediocre should ring alarm bells - are those good tattoos really theirs?  Look carefully. 


It helps most tattooists if you can bring in pictures of the kinds of thing you like.  PLEASE PRINT THEM! If you bring in photos on a phone or tablet, you take them away with you.  We need them please!   Good places to look up ideas are obviously Google - but think about googling photos of what you want rather than tattoos of what you want. e.g. google "Rose" rather than "Rose tattoo".  Tattoo pics are ok to show a style but real reference photos are much more useful to a realism artist. Other great places to look are Deviant art, Istock photos, PInterest and Instagram.   If you can print the photos out roughly to the size you want them, that's helpful too. 


Whether you are looking to cover an old tattoo or a scar, similar rules of thumb apply.  The more detailed and busy the design, the better it will cover.  Black and grey is actually black and empty skin, so it will only cover small tattoos and can be tricky over scars as the skin texture is inconsistent so it can be patchy.   Colour generally works better as the coverage is more solid.  Over tattoos, deep purples, greens, blues and blacks work better than warmer colours like red, orange or yellow, but these colours can often be incorporated into areas of empty skin so the overall effect isn't too dark.  Cover-ups require a special skill.  Skilled artists will ensure that the new tattoo looks like a great tattoo in its own right and that the old tattoo is as invisible as possible.  They won't put a black blob on you like lesser skilled "artists".  Always book a consultation face-to-face to discuss a cover-up. 


1. Copying friends - you may love their new tattoo but they won't thank you if you copy it and you may miss out of having something better ;)

2. Copying trends - if its fashionable today, by definition it will be unfashionable in the future.  

3. Choosing placement on where you think it will hurt less - they all hurt a bit.  Have the tattoo where you really want it.

4. Going too small - its hard to get good detail into a tattoo when its tiny and it will age badly.  Bigger is usually better.