Tattoo Artists Answer Popular Questions About Tattoos, Mistakes + More

If you’re looking for a way to make your life easier, getting your first tattoo If you are considering a career in art, these facts may be of interest to you.

Insider interviewed professional tattoo artists to learn more about inking and their thoughts when a customer sits down in their chair.

What is the best way to practice tattoo art when you’re just starting?

Novice tattoo artists may practice with materials such as unpeeled oranges and boiled eggs.
Kristina Kolanova/EyeEm/Getty

Josh Hall is a professional tattoo artist and the owner of Lamar Street Tattoo ClubInsider was told by, that ink learning involves practice with people you know.

Hall stated that most people begin with very understanding and patient friends who are open to being worked on. “A shop might also permit an apprentice to practice on clients who agree to work alongside a beginner.”

The synthetic skin can be used to help novice artists bridge the gap between tattooing on real people and working with paper. Other common practice materials include unpeeled oranges (boiled eggs), and balloons.

Do you prefer to tattoo with a larger or smaller needle?

tattoo artist

In some cases, larger needles might actually be more painful.
 Anton NovoderezhkinTASS via Getty Images

Hannah Maruyama, a professional medical tattoo artist. YAMA Studios Insider was told by a woman who has experienced that using a larger needle to treat sensitive areas can reduce pain.

Maruyama explained that the larger needle makes it easier to numb the swollen limbs. It may seem counterintuitive but a larger needle means that pressure is distributed more evenly.

To determine the best option for you, consult an artist’s choice of tattoo and location.

How would you feel about inking intoxicated people?

Hall said to Insider he isn’t a fan of tattooing clients who are under the influence.

Hall explained that drunk clients can be more difficult to keep still which makes it difficult for them both to get a tattoo. The effects of alcohol on your body can increase bleeding and lengthen healing times.

Hall said that tipsy clients are more likely than not to regret getting tattoos.

What is something that you wish your clients would give up?


It might not be respectful to ask an artist their hourly rate.
Justin Sullivan/Getty

Maruyama stated that every tattoo artist is unique, but she does not like when clients inquire about her hourly rates.

Maruyama stated that asking for an hourly rate allows clients to criticize how fast I work when the real cost is the final result. “You wouldn’t ask a surgeon to give you their hourly rate,” Maruyama said.

Insider was also informed by Hall that he doesn’t like customers asking for trendy tattoos they’ve seen online.

Hall explained that “just because it’s on Pinterest doesn’t mean it’s a good tattoo for your skin tone, muscle structure, or size preferences,” Hall said. A custom piece is the best way to go.

What happens if a tattoo artist makes a mistake?

Maruyama explained to Insider that even professionals can make mistakes. He suggested that flushing the area can be helpful if an artist makes a mistake while tattooing.

Maruyama explained that while I have never had to use this technique, a tattooist can use a saline solution to get new color.

You can also use flesh-colored ink for camouflage, but it can cause the tattoo to look chalky as the ink ages.

Hall said that being open with clients is the best method to correct an error.

He said, “It is better not to make mistakes but, if you do make them, you should admit it.” Learn from your mistakes, learn from them, and then move on.

Do clients ever weep while getting their tattoos? 

Stephan Hipwell, tattoo artist and owner of Goodbye HorsesInsider heard from a, that clients have been known to cry while they are inked.

Hipwell stated that “not many clients cry, but it does occur,”[Tattoos] It can be very difficult, so it is okay to cry a little.

Hall said that some clients have cried during tattoo sessions because of emotional reasons.

He stated that although crying does occur from time to time, he believes it’s more connected to emotional release than to physical pain.

What are the most and least painful spots to get tattooed on? 

rose tattoo
The pain of groin, chest, and Sternum tattoos can be especially severe.

The amount of pain a tattoo causes depends on many factors, including the thickness of the skin and whether it is above bone or muscle.

Hipwell stated that tattoos tend to hurt most on the chest, sternum, and groin. “The arms and thighs are the least painful.”

Maruyama also said that it could hurt areas with very thin or sensitive skin.

She said that eyelids can be particularly painful as many people feel twitchy after getting their eyes tattooed. The areolas can be painful, especially if there is scar tissue.

What do artists think about tattooing facials? 

Insider was informed by Hall that he is happy to give clients facial tattoos but that they need to be aware of the professional and social consequences that can come with body art.

Hall stated that tattoos on the neck and face of the tattoo industry are referred to as “job enders”. “Unfortunately tattoos in these locations can have a significant impact on how people view you and interact with your body.”

Hipwell said that clients who have never had tattoos inked should ink in smaller places before committing.

He stated that “Neck and face tattoos have become more popular and acceptable in recent times, but you want to make sure that what you are displaying on your forehead is a good idea.”

Do clients need to take painkillers before they get a tattoo? 

stick and poke tattoo
Some painkillers can increase bleeding and may make it more difficult to recover.
Ann Kosolapova/Shuttershock

Hipwell advised against taking painkillers before your session to reduce discomfort.

Hipwell stated, “I don’t normally recommend clients take painkillers prior to their appointment.” Some topical numbing lotions can cause adverse effects on tattoo quality.

Notable is also the fact that there are prescription and over-the-counter painkillers. ibuprofen And aspirin are also blood thinners and may increase bleeding.

What are the most important things about being a tattoo artist? 

tattoo artist back
Some tattoo artists aren’t comfortable getting inked.

Hall shared with Insider that tattoo artists are more than creating cool designs. They also enjoy chatting with their clients.

Hall stated that tattooers make their jobs seem cool and fun. However, most of us work long hours so the apprenticeship is hard work.

Unsurprisingly, Hipwell suggested that tattoo artists might not like getting inked.

Hipwell stated, “The majority of tattoo artists that I have personally met actually hate getting tattooed.” “Most don’t like pain.”

What is the most thrilling tattoo you have ever received?

While tattoos can be incredibly personal, artists acknowledge that some designs are more memorable.

Maruyama claimed that the best tattoo she had ever done was one on her belly. “The client had lost her natural belly button in a previous procedure, so I created a 3D version.

Many clients don’t hesitate to ask their tattoo artist for unusual designs at odd places.

Hall stated, “This might make some people reconsider their decision about tattooing.”

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