So you want to get a tattoo


Your grandfather had an old, blurry heart with a banner that read “Stella” (even though your grandmother’s name was Mabel). Your older brother has a sweet “alternate spelling” of “no regrets” on his arm. Your best friend has one of those cool side of the finger tattoos that mostly fell out. So obviously, you want to get a tattoo!

The problem is, you don’t know where to start. How do you pick a design? How do you settle on an artist? How do you know when to come in, how to take care of it, or the standard ratio increase of tattoo coverage to coolness?

Never fear! Art Machine Productions is here to help you navigate such a tough landscape. So let’s dive in!

Picking a design

Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to pick a design. I know you’re saying “whaaaaaa? That crazy doe! I got this Pinterest board!” Let me explain.

Tattoo artists love to draw custom designs. That means you can give them ideas, and they’ll work with you to draw up a one of a kind tattoo. While most artists welcome reference photos, they’re still going to want to redraw the design. Any artist worth their weight isn’t going to copy another artist’s work, so trust their expertise!

There’s a handful of exceptions. One is for traditional American tattoos designed by tattooing’s forefathers, like Sailor Jerry or Amund Dietzel. Reproducing works by them is a way of honoring the history of tattooing.

Another is for simple font, script, or basic line designs. Many of these smaller tattoos, unless very detailed or complex, don’t have a lot of room for customization. Quite a few are part of current trends and are reproduced often.

Picking an artist

There’s an ocean of artists to pick from, and that can be intimidating. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to close your eyes and point. Of course, you’d probably land on the one that sucks the worst, because your luck is terrible (we won’t talk about THAT night, Karen).

So here’s what you do. Use social media. Yep, that’s right. Lurk Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, everything. This will let you get a feel for who the artist is. You can see their artwork, tattoos, and hopefully a puppy or a baby.

Make sure the work they do is what you’re looking for. If you want color, don’t ask a black and grey artist. If you want a portrait, don’t ask somebody who does new school. There is an artists for every style, so try to match up with the right one. Can’t decide? Any good studio will help point you in the right direction. No real preference? A good studio can help with that as well.

When to come in

Does your selected artist require an appointment? Do they want to have an in person consultation ? Are they a weird recluse who will have a panic attack if you drop by unannounced? (**cough cough *TIMPANGBURN *cough) Find out in advance. Email them, DM, or call the shop. Most artists have a preference.

Taking care Of your sweet tat

We have our own suggested aftercare, as does every shop and artist. We recommend you use whatever method your artists suggests. They normally know what helps their work heal the best.

The truth is, there’s a lot of ways to take care of a new tattoo, and most of them are correct. Some of them vary in details, but the reoccurring theme is to keep them clean. Just don’t be a scumbag and roll in filth, and you’ll most likely be okay. Just do what your artist says.

Coolness ratio

Each tattoo increases your coolness factor by 2.1% per 6 square inches of coverage. As a side effect, it also increase overall suave by 1.7%

So hopefully, this will help you with making decisions about getting tattooed. We know the market is saturated with quality artists, and it can be tough finding a perfect match. If you have questions or want to join in on the conversation, find us on our Facebook group.