Portland 6/23/2012 1:10:21 AM
News / Art

Traits To Look For In A Quality Tattoo Artist

If you have just made the decision to get a tattoo, there are some things you should consider in order to find the right artist to do the artwork on your skin. It is a decision that reaches a point of no return as soon as the needle begins to stain the skin. So, it is important to be sure both about your tattoo and the artist who creates your tattoo.


There are many people who have drawing skills that enable them to sketch a tattoo design on a sheet of paper. It is probably something that those who are getting a tattoo can do for themselves. However, not everyone is gifted enough to transfer this skill from paper to skin. As many have discovered the hard way, skin is a completely different medium for making art. For starters, no two clients will have the same kind of skin, and a competent tattoo artist should be able to work on all of them. 

It is important to look for a tattoo artist who has an impressive tattoo gallery with a variety of designs, but you need to see these designs on human skin. Ask to see before and after photos of clients or talk to someone in person who has had a particular artist do his design. Compare the photo in the gallery to the end result. Good tattoos should be clear, not blurred, and they should be easy to see even from a distance. There should be no broken lines, and the coloring of the tattoo should be solid and even.


Safety is a primary concern for those who choose to get a tattoo. Because tattooing is a business that involves the use of needles, overall cleanliness and stellar sanitary practices are traits that cannot be compromised. Good safety practices are done to control diseases and infections among customers. 

A responsible tattoo shop uses a regular sanitizing process to make sure its needles are safe. A popular process is autoclaving, which kills bacteria by using pressurized steam. Tattoo artists should use gloves; always work with unused, individually packaged needles that are opened in your presence; and never touch an unsterilized object like a cell phone while their gloves are on. This means a tattoo artist should remove his gloves and leave them in the sterilized work area before doing anything else except your tattoo. Otherwise, he risks cross-contamination. When a tattoo session is finished, everything should be disposed of and a new setup should be prepared for the next client.


Although the art of creating tattoos may be a natural talent, it takes years of apprenticeship to learn how to properly run a tattoo shop. Knowing how to do the art is only part of the process. Tattoo artists must know how to customize art quickly and to run a smooth business operation. This includes building relationships with other neighboring vendors, potential partners and customers. It is a business, and a quality tattoo artist runs it seamlessly.


Finding the best tattoo artist in Portland may require looking through a lot of portfolios. While you are looking for the best art among them, you are also looking for a style that fits the kind of tattoo you are looking for. For example, an artist who specializes in cartoon characters might not be the best to consult to do a portrait tattoo of one of your children. The results will likely not be pleasant. The search for the right artist is a search to find the best possible fit.

"Chairside" manner

Most people typically associate a "bedside manner" with doctors and nurses. Tattoo artists are not physicians, but they need to have a similar knack for customer friendliness. The best tattoo artist in Portland will be among those who have mastered this. It takes human compassion and a genuine interest in good conversation to engage a customer. No one wants a rude curmudgeonly tattoo artist who curses with every other word. This is a business that runs on mutual respect, and that respect factor starts long before a needle pack is ever opened.