How to Prepare for Your Tattoo Consultation

Preparing for your Tattoo Consultation

Preparing for a tattoo can be overwhelming. Sometimes, we have a flood of ideas but are lost for direction. Other times, we have a clear vision but find it difficult to communicate that vision to the artist.

This is where consultations come into play.

Sometimes even during the consultation, the message gets lost in translation. Let’s look at how you can better prepare for your appointment so that your consultation can be as smooth as your tattoo!

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When it comes to creating a tattoo, it’s important to envision what we want it to look like.

You might want to, and get a tiny tattoo one day and change your mind the next, only to have it in the way of a full sleeve. You may like the look of a certain celebrity’s tattoos, but you don’t want the exact same tattoos. Or maybe you want several tattoos that build up a patch sleeve, but you don’t want the same skin coverage as some other more invasive tattoos, like Japanese Traditional.

Whatever it may be, you want to be able to tell your artist exactly how you want to look while wearing your tattoo.

Having a vision for your tattoo is like telling your tailor what kind of suit you want to wear before they take your measurements, or telling a chef your taste preferences before they start cooking. It’s up to you to tell your artist how you want your tattoo to look, based on your research, because once the tattoo is done, whether you like it 100% or not, you’re wearing it 100% of the time.

Be precise about your intentions, and let your artist articulate their understanding of your design.


Starting out with references of what you want your tattoo to look like is crucial. Right off the bat, your artist should be able to gather an understanding of different options for your tattoo. It is important, however, that you do not overwhelm your artist with folders upon folders of different images. Less is more.

Three to five quality photos should be enough to portray your vision. Having the same theme and style for all of your reference images may help with the details. But if your references are of different tattoos that you like but are not necessarily of the same style and theme, your artist may have a harder time determining which direction you want to go with your tattoo.

Separate your references into different categories and see which ones you like the most. You can then start to organize them further into themes, then styles, then details and specifics.


This topic deserves its own chapter, and we’ll cover it in a later blog post. When it comes to themes, generally speaking, you want to narrow it down to a particular category.

You can tell your artist that you want an Animal theme tattoo or a Floral tattoo – you might even want to combine the two together – but once you start naming too many themes, you’ll start to mix things that don’t necessarily go together. Although Surrealism Art is becoming super popular these days , a woman’s body with a bird’s head sitting on a flower might not be what you had in mind when you said you wanted “a bird and a beautiful girl on a flower.”

Narrow your ideas down and be precise about the theme you want.


This topic also deserves a chapter on its own. Keep up with our socials for updates!

There are many different styles these days – more than ever before. New styles keep popping up all the time, but generally speaking, there are some main categories you should know about before getting into the sub-categories.

  • Japanese Traditional
  • Western Traditional
  • Neo-Traditional
  • New School
  • Realism
  • Colour Realism
  • Micro-Realism
  • Surrealism
  • Illustration
  • Anime
  • Pointillism
  • Minimalism
  • Fineline
  • Abstract
  • Anime
  • Blackwork

The list goes on and on. That’s where your research will come into play.

Don’t give your artist 20 different styles. You want to choose a direction or two and keep heading that way. Too many styles in one tattoo would be like having sushi with your burger while having pizza with a side of chilli. Some things just don’t go together..

But fusion food is also a thing. Maybe you live on the wild side and put a few together to create something new – thus, a new category is born! Just make sure the artist you choose knows what they are doing.


Sizing is fairly straightforward. If you’re getting a smaller tattoo, more precise and accurate measurements are needed. Use regular metrics to size out your design for your artist: centimeters or inches are great.

If you’re getting a bigger tattoo, you can tell your artist you want it to be about the length of your forearm, for example. Larger tattoos generally become part of larger pieces and will require a more in-depth consultation with more precise measuring later.

Don’t complicate sizing. Don’t use abnormal references like “a Tim Hortons’ cup” or “a cucumber,” We’ve even heard “the size of a lemon” before – no joke! This type of measurement confuses the artist and doesn’t give off a very serious tone when inquiring about a tattoo.


This is VERY important! The location of your canvas can determine other aspects of your tattoo, such as size and art flow.

Most artists are quite knowledgeable about human anatomy due to the nature of their work. If you want a tattoo on the wrist area (where many people get their first tattoos), don’t tell your artist, “I want it on the arm.” Limbs have many different areas, so be precise.

If your tattoo will be somewhere on your back, it could be on your “full back,” “half back,” or “upper left quarterback over the shoulder,” for example

Every space on the body with skin has definitely been tattooed by an artist before. Don’t confuse your artist, and be accurate about where you want your tattoo placed.


This is the money shot. It’s important to be open about your budget, if you have one..

Honestly speaking, if you want artwork from a specific artist, it’s best to save up and pay exactly what they ask. Don’t negotiate. Artists work hard behind the scenes to perfect their craft. It takes thousands of hours of practice to perfectly tattoo a piece of art in a few hours.

But if you do have a budget, let your artist know upfront so that they are aware of it when creating your design. The artist can definitely create something geared towards your budget. It beats trying to bargain and risk them not even taking you on as a client.

Flash pieces are tattoo artworks that are predesigned for sale. These designs are normally lower in price, and so the price on these should definitely not be haggled over!

Medical History

At the end of the day, you’re undergoing a form of surgery. Before going into a session, you will have to sign a waiver. Sometimes people rush to sign the waiver and don’t bother reading it! Always read the waiver.

It’s important to let your artist know of any medical history that you may have, for example, history of keloids, seizures, or diabetes.

Your body undergoes a radical chemical change while getting a tattoo, and your body may react in different ways. You may not have a reaction at all, but letting your artist know of any conditions you have will at least give them a forewarning of anything that might occur.

Artists are trained to handle situations should they arise.


Getting all the necessary information your artist needs to understand what you want for your new tattoo isn’t rocket science. However, tattoo artists do speak a certain language. Doing your homework beforehand will give you and your artist some peace of mind when it comes to creating the custom design that you want.

We hope that these tips and pointers have given you some additional insight into a vision of the tattoo you want.

If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding booking a consultation, or if you want to book a consultation now, shoot us an email at

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Welcome to North York Ink! A local tattoo & piercing studio providing the community of North York with quality tattoos and piercings close to home. When hard work and devotion merge with passion and creativity, the possibilities are endless.