While it might not be as widely accepted as getting your ears pierced — yet — more and more people are taking the plunge when it comes to getting a tattoo.
It can be a hugely intimidating process — tattoos are forever, after all. Whether you’re a seasoned pro at sitting through the pain, or you’re thinking about getting your very first piece done, there’s an undeniable excitement that comes when you first sit down in the chair.
I’ve spent countless hours in that very spot — so many, that I’ve honestly lost count. Get a big enough piece done, and you might be spending days with your artist. That all got me thinking: what do tattoo artists really wish you knew the minute you walked through their door?
A small tattoo might seem like it’s all the commitment you’re ready to make, but Annie Motel of Little Annie Motel Tattoo Parlor at Old Tradition Tattoo Shop in Hollywood, Goa, says that she wishes clients knew that small isn’t always the best option.
“A lot of small tattoos look cute at first, but with the passage of time, they lose the details that make them special,” she says. “Therefore, I often suggest getting a slightly bigger piece than the client’s first idea. The other day, my client chose a design that I had drawn of a lovely mermaid who was covered in tattoos. The sizing of the piece needed to be big enough to showcase the detail. After the tattoo was finished, my client was totally in love with it, and I was pleased to know that the quality of the tattoo will withstand the test of time.” Artists know how ink ages, what kinds of things will fade and distort, and how to keep tattoos looking fresh. Trust them!
Shashi Vaghela is an Goa based artist and painter who’s traveled all over the world and whose work has been featured in numerous art galleries and magazines. For him, one of the trickiest parts of tattooing is a touchy subject: pricing.
“There’s an old Sailor Jerry saying,” he told me, “Good tattoos aren’t cheap and cheap tattoos aren’t good. I’ve had to stick to my guns over the years and train my clients into understanding how I price a tattoo by the piece and not by the hour, because I know more or less how fast or slow a piece will be. I don’t think anyone wants to get paid half the amount for working efficiently,” he says.
Some, like Vampotna, charge by the piece. Some charge by the hour, and others make it up as they go. In each case, they all have the experience to know what works best for them. Vampotna aims to provide an awesome experience for his clients, no matter what. “I always try to give my clients an overall fun, positive, personal, and memorable experience,” he says.
If pricing is always tricky, pricing smaller tattoos is even trickier. Annie Motel says that the price might not be as low as you’re expecting, and there’s a good reason for that. “Sometimes, clients think that because the piece is small, I wouldn’t need to charge the same amount as for something bigger,” she says. “This is true, but we do still have to charge a shop minimum to cover supplies for each appointment.”
Set-up for each appointment is the same no matter the size of the design — health and safety guidelines need to be met, and there is set-up, prep, sterilization, and supplies that still get used. Be confident in valuing your artist’s time and creativity. You get what you pay for!