If you’ve decided that the time is right for you to get a tattoo, but need a few pointers on finding the right artist, subject, and style, you’ve come to the right place. This tattoos guide for men will answer questions, provide helpful advice, and assist you in choosing the best possible options to suit your individual needs. When you’re finished reading take a glance at the top 50 best men’s tattoos to get some inspiration and ideas.
1. Tattoo Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness
One of the primary points to consider before getting tattooed is the parlor or studio where the art will be completed. Cleanliness cannot be stressed enough. As well, the place should be orderly and convey a sense of organization. While this may not seem to have anything to do with the quality of the art, it does impact the quality of your experience and indicate what sort of artist you’ll be dealing with.
As soon as you walk into the shop, check to make sure the floor is clean and the countertops are free of clutter. Even examine the artwork on display for a sense of order and coherence. These details are important indicators of a clean and orderly business, and should not be disregarded. Another positive feature you should expect in a well-run studio is a prompt, polite, and business-like greeting.
You should explain your visit and feel comfortable asking as many questions as you need to in order to assure yourself that a particular studio is a good choice for you. Furthermore, whether the individual greeting you is an assistant, apprentice or the artist, they should be comfortable answering those questions, some of which should follow these general guidelines:
2. Tattoo Shop Guidelines
• What are the shop hours?
• Can you see their latest spore test results?
• How do they sterilize their equipment—Autoclave or Statim?
• Is the artist available for a brief conversation?
• Do they prefer custom or flash work?
• Do they have portfolios you can browse?
A studio should be using an Autoclave or Statim to sterilize their tools, and should undergo a spore test no less than once a month, though statutes for this will vary given your state or province. Furthermore, much like a safety and health inspection rating in food service, they should either display their most recent test results or have them ready to present upon client request.
What The Autoclave, Statim and Spores Test Will Look Like
3. Tattoo Process Preparation
No matter which studio you select for your tattoo, a few things will not vary. All needle implements should be packaged, sealed and only removed while in front of you. A darker mark or arrow on the back of a package will indicate that it is sterile and unopened. Pigments should be poured in your presence into single use plastic vessels, and the artist’s workbench or desk should be clean and free of clutter at all times.
When you commission your art, you’ll be required to fill out a general form pertaining to your health—do you have any conditions, allergies, or infectious diseases? This generally takes place on the first session visit. The artist should wear sterile gloves at all times and the area to be tattooed should be soaped and razored with a new blade prior to the application of a stencil, unless custom artwork has been commissioned. Only once the design has been approved should color be poured, machines set up, and outlining begin.
4. Finding The Right Tattoo Artist And Design
While there is nothing wrong with a stencil pattern or a generic design, depending on your expectations, you may want to ask about a custom piece. Generally, the tattoo artist will design a custom pattern for a small commission, which may be deducted from the price of the actual work of tattooing later on. If a custom tattoo is what you’re after, bring some samples of the motifs you want when in consultation prior to the first session. Most artists should be quite capable of rendering several sketches fairly swiftly, and you can choose the work you like best.
As well, when considering your choice of studios and artists, a portfolio of their previous work can help you narrow down your selection. If you like what you see, then proceed. If you aren’t feeling it when you flip through their offerings, go elsewhere. It’s your tattoo; you should be nothing less than 100 percent satisfied. However, a portfolio serves another purpose, as well. You should look for images of both fresh ink and healed pieces. One indicator of a new design is a hint of redness around the outside edge of the work.
Images of healed art indicate that customers are returning for other work, and are satisfied with the commission, cleanliness, and overall appearance of their tattoos. While some artists are strictly into living canvas, many of them also paint or pursue other visually creative paths. Any artist who is proud of his or her work will likely have plenty of examples to show off, and this can give you a great idea of their particular style.
5. Types Of Tattoos For Men
1. Tribal Tattoos For Men
This style of tattoo has waxed and waned in popularity over the past two decades. However, if a tribal design is what you really want, there are a few guidelines to consider.
• While the overall concept of a tribal piece may appear simplistic because it tends to be executed in a single color, tribal designs are anything but simple to design or tattoo. Ask your artist if they’ve done that sort of work before; if so, request pictures of their previous efforts.
• A successful tribal tattoo should have a natural sense of flow. It should also compliment the body type of the individual if it is a custom design.
• While there are many prefabricated designs available for the upper arm or lower back, it really is best to go custom on this type of tattoo to ensure that you wind up with a great looking piece of body art that is unique and also fits your particular physique.
• Especially if you have a symmetrical design in mind, you should make certain that the artist can render a truly balanced and symmetrical design. This can make a great tattoo look horrible, and should be avoided at all costs.
• If you’re having a tribal arm band done, when the stencil has been applied, be sure that the lines meet perfectly on your inner arm. This is another horrible mishap that is usually the result of sloppy application.
2. Color Work
Multi-colored tattoos have always been popular and continue to be so. But as with any work, there are a few things you must remember before you begin.
• It’s generally good to remember that you’ll be viewing your tattoo through several layers of skin. This can cause a dimming or dulling effect.
• Your tattoo will always appear its freshest and brightest in the days after it is finally completed. Over time, exposure to sunlight usually causes pigments to dull or shift slightly. The best example of this is the newly trendy white pigment—sunlight can cause it to transmute into a creamier shade, rather than the pure, bright white with which you left the studio.
• Skin tone does matter when selecting a color scheme. If you have darker skin, plan accordingly. Pale skin tends to show off bright colors easily, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an exquisite piece of brilliantly pigmented art. Your tattoo artist is likely an expert at color mixing, and can create shades perfect and specific to your needs.
• While true metallic pigments, such as gold, silver, or chrome, are not yet available, skilled artists can mimic the appearance of these. If you know it’s something you’ll want, you should include it in your initial visit to a studio.
• Avoid overly complex or crowded designs, especially if you’re going with a multi-colored scheme. This can make the final image look both clunky and muddy, no matter how well designed the original concept might appear.
3. Portrait Tattoos
These tattoos have become very popular recently. They are an excellent way to commemorate a lost loved one or a very special event. However, portraiture is not every artist’s strong point. When investigating artists and studios, you should be certain they have done this type of work before, and ask to see samples of it, so that you know you’ll be pleased with the finished product. If you’re in the market for a portrait tattoo, being more highly selective is not a bad thing at all!
6. Things To Know Before Getting Your First Tattoo
When you get your first tattoo, and any subsequent work, the plain truth is that it does change you. It’s a physical transformation that also has deep repercussions on several psychological levels, but these are unique to the person, and there’s no guaranteed map that will indicate how your tattoo will impact you
Many tattoo artists and enthusiasts will assert that what you choose, where its placed, and how large or small it is are your decisions alone. This is absolutely true. Some of the questions you’ll have to answer for yourself, though by no means an exhaustive list are:
1. Additional Considerations
• Location and nature of design
• Color scheme and type of design
• Opinions of people who are close to you—family member or significant others
• Workplace statutes about visible tattoos
• Will you regret it?
• Will you continue to like it in the decades to come?
• Pain of tattooing and your personal level of pain tolerance.
You’re the only one who can answer how you will feel about these considerations, and ultimately, no one but a professional tattoo artist should really weigh in on your choices.
It’s important to note that where on your body you choose to place your design will impact how the design is executed. What looks great on your arm may not be suitable for your upper leg or lower back. That’s why it’s truly important to work closely with your artist, and have a firm idea of the part of yourself you want to serve as a canvas. Also, while small designs may seem aesthetically pleasing, many artists will tell you that a bigger design is better. This is because as you age, your skin changes and intricate lines tend to blur. Larger pieces will retain their artistic integrity longer.
Speaking of artistic integrity, it’s part of the popular jargon that a piece must be meaningful to you on a deep, personal level. This is absolutely not true. While it is perfectly acceptable to commission a meaningful work of body art, the bottom line is that it’s your body and you should be nothing less than thrilled about the work you choose—whether it’s simply because you think the design is awesome or because it commemorates an important event or idea for you. The choice is, as with everything relating to body art, ultimately yours alone.
7. A Matter of Cost
Tattoos are major investments, not only in terms of time and care, but also in a very “up front” way. So when you’re planning your work, a little attention to this detail can prevent you from being put out of pocket. Your first cost will be the base fee that all studios charge clientele. This covers your new needles, pigments, and any other expenditures related to your commission. While stencil tattoos are generally less expensive, a studio usually charges what they feel the piece is worth to them.
That means you can expect to spend anywhere from $30 to $200 dollars. However, stencil pieces are basically straightforward in cost and are usually priced up front, so no guesswork is really required. Studios can afford to put a defined price tag on these because they execute many of them, and consequently know exactly what resources will be expended and how long the piece will take.
With custom designs, price will be variable. A number of factors play into this sliding range. First, the overall intricacy of your piece is taken into account. How many colors are you using and which ones? This is because some pigments are more expensive to procure than others. What size is your design and where will it be situated on your body? How long will it take to execute your chosen design? Generally, custom work is priced based heavily on this last criterion, since it takes into account all the previously listed considerations. You should expect to be charged $100-200 per hour.
With designs that require multiple sessions, each session will generally last between two and six hours. After six consecutive hours of tattooing, the artist may experience hand cramps and muscle fatigue that will lead to mistakes if ignored. As well, most patrons aren’t keen to sit for the artist for any longer, due to cumulative nerve sensitivity of prolonged treatments with the tattoo needle.
While it can be an expensive process, also keep in mind that your artist is just that, an artist. It’s an excellent plan to tip 40 percent or more, based on the quality of the work. Many independent studios may even cut you a little slack if you’re a repeat customer and you are known to tip well. So plan to be generous. It almost guaranteed come back to you in a variety of great ways.
8. Advice For The Present Moment And Tattoo Aftercare
A good plan to ensure that your blood sugar levels remain stable during an extended session is to eat a good meal about an hour before your appointment. This reduces shaking due to lower glucose levels and can also help you to endure unaccustomed pain. Some first-time patrons have been known to experience vertigo, pass out or become ill because their blood sugar level was low and their response to pain was thus intensified.
During the tattoo session, it’s best that you remain as calm and relaxed as possible. Tensing up your muscles will cause you to tremble, and increase the likelihood of a mistake. Because no artist wants to mess up, they will take longer to complete the work, and this will result in more pain for you. Most studios discourage more than one friend coming with you for moral support. Because they aren’t set up for crowds, the space is small. One tip, if you know you’re prone to anxiety, is to practice some breathing exercises commonly used in yoga. There’s nothing girly about this, and it will help you to remain calm, relaxed, and still during the process.
Once your session is complete, even if the piece will require additional work, there are a few really great tips to care. While different methods are advised in different studios, and everyone will have to find the one that works best for them, one absolute is to avoid sporins of any kind. These treat infection—if no infection is present, they will pull the pigment from your skin.
After leaving the studio-applied bandage on for 6-24 hrs, run a very hot shower, not letting the water hit the tattoo directly. Use an unscented, mild soap to wash the area and pat gently dry before rebandaging. Whether you wait to apply moisturizer until the scabs have healed or not, use a gentle, unscented lotion and do not over-apply.