How To Determine If Your Tattoo Artist Is Using The Best Tattoo Ink

Even though some people might wish you hadn’t, you finally decided to get your first tattoo, and you are really excited because you have done your due diligence. You’ve research the artists in the area, inspected & checked out all of the parlors you had in mind, and you even got a great design in mind. But there’s one problem – how do you know if your chosen artist is using the best tattoo ink in the business?

If you’re anything like most people who hear about the varying scale of tattoo ink quality, you’re now fairly deflated and unsure about moving forward with your tattoo. First of all, don’t feel so bad. As it turns out, most tattoo artists agree that one issue they often notice among clients is a lack of knowledge about ink quality. You’re not alone in missing this one detail, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty big deal. Still, don’t get discouraged.

As with any artist, he or she may learn their trade with what may be deemed a rudimentary tool, slowly becoming more adept at their craft. As time goes on, their talent dictates that their tool of choice improves in quality. Ask a concert violinist what type of violin he or she plays, and you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that it didn’t come from an online wholesaler. The best tattoo artists are the same. They look for the best tools so that when someone sits in their chair, the client knows this is exactly the place they needed to be.

But if you’re starting with tattoo number one, you might not know how to breach this topic. The best advice on this feeling – dispel it immediately. You’re talking about embarking on a journey that will leave you not only with a lifelong piece of body art, but you’re also placing a foreign substance into your body. You owe it to yourself to get the skinny on whether your tattoo artist has the best ink at their station.

How do you find this out? Here are a few tips:

Learn About Industry Favorites & Standards – Do some research and find which ink brands and ingredients tend to be used the most.

Ask Artists What They Use and Why – Everyone tradesman chose his tools for a reason, and so goes the journey of the tattoo artist. This is where your research pays off.

Read Industry Information on Ink Rankings – Check out any published materials on tattoos, artists, and even ink models. Also, check out the FDA for quite a lot of info on tattoo ink & your health.

Don’t Buy The Hype – Hyperbole is a sure-fire way to know if someone might be pulling your leg. You want information, not a sales pitch.

The best tattoo ink may be hard to peg down considering you have to first define what ‘the best’ really means. Moreover, keep in mind that the type of ink to be used by your artist can depend on your tattoo. It may seem like a drag to go through all of this, but the best tattoo artists out there are always happy to share their knowledge and talk shop with someone who is genuinely interested in it. If you aren’t feeling that vibe, you need to find another artist.

What You Need To Know Before Determining Your Tattoo Cost

So, you finally decided to get your first tattoo, and you can barely contain your excitement. The only real issue you have is knowing exactly what the numbers will be when it comes to determining overall tattoo cost. It’s here perhaps that a lot of folks find themselves losing a little of the original excitement of getting their first tattoo, but this waning may be a little too premature.

The fact remains that unless you are intimately familiar with the scale of pricing at a particular tattoo parlor, you really can’t figure out what the price of your tattoo may be. First impressions about this conundrum are a bit disconcerting. How often do you decide to purchase something without having an idea of how much it will cost? Moreover, since this is a first tattoo, where do you even begin?

Here are a few things you need to know before you determine the cost of your tattoo:

Design – If you’re going with a traditional design that’s right off the wall, you’re probably not looking at a high-priced tattoo. However, if you decide to get a custom design made for you, the price will most certainly go up. Ditto on the size and its impact on price, too.

Complexity – No doubt that any design that is simple will mean less work for the artist, and that translates into less cost. But if you’ve got something epic in mind, be prepared for higher price.

To Color or Not To Color – In the same vein of complexity, if you decide to include color into your tattoo, you’re adding another dimension of labor into the mix, and you’re tapping into the artist’s resources.

Placement – A tattoo on your chest may very well differ in price from one that is being placed over your rib cage. As such, inking your knuckles and toes may also differ in price from something being emblazoned across your shoulder blades.

Don’t Make A Concession – Getting a tattoo from a great artist is more than just a status symbol among the inked masses. It means you really value the quality and workmanship of the artist enough to save up your money for his or her services. You could always go with an artist that fits your budget that does a good job, but there’s no reason you couldn’t save up a little more to really get the right person for the job.

Tattoo cost shouldn’t be something that dampens the excitement you have for getting a tattoo. Whether it’s your first piece of body art or another in a long run of dedicated pieces, you’re making an expense to showcase you. That said, be a proactive consumer and visit tattoo parlors to get an idea of the prices you may be looking at. If you have a chance, get to know the artists as well. You may find that being comfortable with your surroundings and the artist working with you may supersede your original misgivings about what you’re paying.

Copyrighting Tattoo Art

It is difficult to identify a more personalized statement or method of collaborative endorsement than utilizing our bodies as canvases, permanently marking one’s skin. Tattooists might constitute some of the most prolific producers of artwork. Their client’s tattooed compositions are more broadly and readily visible than works done perhaps in nearly any other medium. Yet within the tattooing field sufficiently detailed or serious analysis of activity as well as associated technological and socioeconomic impacts are rarely accorded.

We turn briefly to an article from New Zealand. As is most common with online tattoo-related writings, content often primarily serves as an advertisement vehicle for images hyping inking as a practice and is then peppered by quotations from a handful of easily contactable [often just mainstream] artists. Implications of copyrighting tattoo designs and associated body art forms, particularly completed tattoo works, are however worth exploring in greater detail:

“Tattoo artists calling for right to have copyright on their work | There’s an unwritten rule in New Zealand – decent tattoo artists don’t copy designs. Right now the Copyright Act 1994 is under review, and artists behind the ink say stricter legislation could protect original tattoo designs. House of Natives founder Gordon Toi would champion tattoo protection. “I would like to see some kind of governance over Maori tattooing and Polynesian tattooing… there’s so much exploitation.” Original designs were often replicated, often overseas without even talking to the New Zealand artist, he said.

“Skin is probably the hardest thing to copyright, because everyone is copying it.” Pacific Tattoo owner Tim Hunt wanted artists to respect the meaning of Maori and Pacific cultural patterns and symbols. “Any artist could say, I can do you a design that has korus and looks Maori”, Hunt said.

“But if you want something authentic, you will have to go somewhere else.” Overseas, tattoo artists are suing when their designs appear on in the media, like television. In 2011, the artist of Mike Tyson’s Maori-inspired facial tattoo sued Warner Bros over a depiction of similar facial art on a character in The Hangover: Part II. If copyright law protected cultural images, Hunt would respect the change. “I want more tattoo artists to stand up and say: ‘I don’t know enough about it, I don’t know the history behind it, and I don’t know the context behind it’.” Overseas, tattoo artists replicate images without a second thought.

New Zealand was different, he said. “It’s kind of an unspoken code in New Zealand that you just don’t do that.” Hunt believed the customer owned the tattoo, not the artist. Union Tattoo owner Craigy Lee agreed there was an unwritten code of conduct to not copy a custom tattoo. Decent artists would not dare to make money from someone else’s design, he said. University of Auckland associate professor Alex Sims said technically what is currently occurring in New Zealand is probably copyright infringement – under the banner of artwork. However Sims cautioned against strict enforcement of copyright laws on tattoos, which could include removal of tattoos, preventing the tattoos appearance in films and advertisements, or requiring the removal of tattoos from social media.”It would give the copyright owner the power to control images of a person, which would be extremely concerning and just wrong.”

Tattoo vs art

For use in the tattooing world, a distinction between copyrighting designed or applied tattoo artwork must be made. We address professional practitioners tattooing as their sustainable, primary means of income.

Tattooists may have multiple images and other as yet non-applied media content such as designs, compositions, sketches or custom artworks. Like representations of various traditional art forms, these are relatively easy to recorded as well as upload allowing clear digital ascription of copyright ownership.

Separately, as worn by clients, tattooists typically have portfolios of tattooed pieces. Using a three-dimensional canvas introduces complexities to automated digital identification. In numerous image copyright tracking software, positioning alone can entirely throw off investigation techniques. While Instagram and alternate photo uploading databases offer some form of time-stamped verification but, due to comparatively openly editable structures subsequent source and ownership attribution can become diluted. Whether tattooist’s produced artwork is documented on skin or another type of canvas is the first practical distinction.

Artist vs technician

In order for copyrighting considerations to be adequately reviewed, grouping serves as a tattoo industry specific starting categorizations. On one side of the tattooing art form creative spectrum there are those tattoo artists only implementing their style and techniques.

Forgoing reflections on how tattoo artist’s styles and aesthetics may have been derived or inspired, the tattoo artist’s works are independently recognizable as “being theirs”. In a senses, the tattoo artist has a stylistic monopoly.

Proportionately with other creative mediums, the tattoo artist has a particular vision, knowledge and or expertise that may not be readily substituted for or by anyone else. The tattoo artist can therefore be classified as practicing the tattooing craft so as to convey a unique style and or furthering the continuation of a single aesthetic or technique.

Tattoo technicians may have distinct portfolios of completed, tattooed, works. While the tattoos in such portfolios cannot be exactly replicated, such unique quality attributes are due primarily to placement on a bespoke canvas, i.e. on one entirely individual person. The cohesive result is bespoke rather than the isolation of a composition. Likewise such tattooed work is formed within specific, often non-reproducible proportions. The resulting tattoo may indeed be faithfully replicated by any number of other tattoo technicians, albeit on a different exclusive canvas.

And as proportionate to qualified technicians in any field, a tattoo technician may be substituted with no inherent loss or degradation to results. A technician is the tattooist physically and technically capable of applying categories of tattoos yet may do so indiscriminately in regards to a single style, size, technique, aesthetic and or design. Capacity rather than artistic temperament or vision here is the limiting factor.

Tradition vs technique

Tattoo artists may be thought of [as just two examples from millions] Ondrash conveying a unique aesthetic to Horioshi III in Japan continuing the culturally rich art of tebori. Both being solely in the tattoo artist’s jurisdiction, delimitation of copyrighting unique compositions as opposed to reproductions of traditional iconography forms another noteworthy separation.

Like any configuration in the more classically mainstream mediums such as painting, such a dichotomy is not to state that tattoo art itself necessarily neither neatly falls onto one side. As with all artistic pursuits, sources of inspiration as well as subjectively justifiable conclusions that the same compositions labelled as ‘homage’ by some or ‘theft’ to others remains to be objectively qualified in any manner whatsoever. As often said, good artists copy – great artists steal. In practical terms though the tattoo artist producing traditionally inspired works may automatically and logically be precluded from copyrighting registration of tattooed art off of the human canvas.

Copyrights vs claims

There may be a twofold purpose of copyright registration. Firstly this functions as externally verified recognition, by a third party, of bespoke or attributed authorship. Such adds credibility, weight and or authority to content. Not least of which often lending substance to sales pricing.

Secondly the purpose of holding a copyright ownership registration could be preparation for cataloguing proceedings when initiating formalized legal protections. These proceedings nonetheless require the violator(s) be identified, engaged with, refuse to honor the registration and then successfully convicted in a manner constrained by their geographically applicable court(s) of law. Quantification of receivable remuneration depends on violator’s accurate identification, owned content’s documented use, set culpability through response and achievable legal ramifications as determined in part by physical location. All form notable, complicating factors.

Recognition vs protection

It has been found as commonplace for a tattooist to use the designs or even completed tattooed portfolio pieces of another. While a large portion of accredited tattoo artwork is searchable online, sheer volumes accessible via disparate sources fractures attempts for single point

[i.e. one tattooist’s]

crediting. The illicit or unauthorized use of tattooed works conceivably only being in printed or offline portfolios, as with those shown to studio clientele. Tattoos often serve as an individually enacted and privately held art form.

Online display and thereby essentially public ‘registration’ of tattooed works may therefore purposefully not exist. Its wearer could have requested this.

These factors translate into an ability for tattoo technicians, dealing directly with individual clients, to potentially be quite liberal in statements of completed works as well as, by extension, claimed tattooing experience or expertise.

In a practical manner, the motivations or impetus for copyright ownership registration of tattoo works apply more broadly to the tattoo artist and perhaps only as form of registration of completed portfolios to the technician. While achievable remuneration or punitive actions against copyright ownership violators is far from universally predictable, a focus on digitally time-stamping both tattoo artwork and portfolios through say blockchain verification is the first step towards assurances of authenticity. However used the creator now has immutable, single-source substantiation of ownership.

As with the technology’s decentralized capacity, ability of trust reallocation onto individual sources as opposed to ‘hubs’ equates to potentially ushering in a new standard of work verification. This is hugely significant for the client in the process selection. For tattoo artists the effects and benefits of copyright ownership through blockchain are also significant.