So, you have an idea for a tattoo, but how do you decide which artist to pick? If you are already a tattoo person, you may have a person whose work you wear and with whom you already have a good relationship.
I’ve lived in San Francisco for just over ten years, and have gotten a lot of ink done in this town. When I lived further down the California coast, I used to make special weekend trips up to the city with friends to get tattooed. In the beginning, I walked into a bunch of shops and looked at the books of the artists, I asked people who had work I admired where they got it done and by whom, and I made note of work I liked that I saw in tattoo magazines. All this led me to a check out several tattoo parlors specifically and from visiting those, I found one where I felt comfortable.
I liked the overall shop, and felt that they employed a variety of topnotch artists. They had both male and female tattooists, and I have worked with both. Some people have a specific preference, just like with doctors, and I always feel it is good to honor your instincts and feelings when picking a tattooist. Some tattoo artists move around a lot, switching shops and cities often, and some tend to stay in one city and work at one shop. Sadly, my usual tattoo shop closed recently, and of all the tattooists that I knew there over the last decade, only one is still in San Francisco, working at a new shop. I considered going back to him, but instead reconnected with an artist who did some work on me three years ago.
Kris Smith is a tattooist who has previously been based in the Boston area, but he’s got a fair interest in points beyond and works on the road from time to time. I met him through a former coworker, and he did some tattooing on me back in January of 2001. Kris is out here once or twice a year, and in fact, we chatted the last time he was in town. That was the week that military activity in the Middle East began and all of San Francisco was a rolling protest, so he and I couldn’t really get together that well. But we talked a bit about me thinking about doing work on my chest to fill in the last areas between other patches of tattoo work.
Thanks to the internet, we were able to swap ideas via long distance. I got peacock feathers and dried honesty, taking digital pictures of both. I also shot the emblems that I had in mind for each side. I posted these images to a web page and sent the URL to Kris. He did further research on his end, both looking at images on the net and in real life. He sent me scans out of his sketch book back via e-mail, giving me ideas of how he could render the designs. To me, this type of exchange can be critical. Showing each other literally what we “had in mind” was a fantastic way to discuss the design. Until humans become consciously telepathic, no one will ever be able to picture the exact same thing you are imagining.
Next up, getting the tattoo....
If you're thinking about getting tattooed, you might like
Ink: The Not-Just-Skin-Deep Guide to Getting a Tattoo
by Terisa Green
The Tattoo Encyclopedia : A Guide to Choosing Your Tattook
also by Terisa Green