looking for tattoo artist recommendations
June 4, 2017 4:42 AM   Subscribe

For a long while I've been thinking about getting a forearm tattoo - it's going to involve a realistically-styled skull & roses - and the inscription "et in Arcadia ego" somewhere - with a reasonable amount of skin still showing through, so not a whole sleeve. Which tattoo artists in England are going to do a great job? Looking for specific personal recommendations if possible. Thanks!

I've started making a collection of ideas here - you'll probably need a pinterest login to see much of it - but maybe gives an idea of the style that I'm aiming towards. The inscription comes from here, but it's also been used many other times since.

The roses will represent specific people - probably seven in total, in various states of maturity - from a small bud that's not even open yet, through to an old rose that's gone over into a rose hip - all on the same vine.

This will my first tattoo, it Means Stuff for me, so I've put some thought into what it needs to look like. I'm thinking I need a patient, noob-friendly artist who's comfortable with possibly naive & unrealistic first-timer expectations - and also happy with the background/meaning of the inscription. And who can do a mean skull & beautifully detailed roses.

I live more or less in the middle of the country, so anywhere in a box bounded by London, Bristol, Manchester & say Nottingham is feasible for me to travel for the right person. I'll go further if I need to.

I'm not rushing this, it needs to be awesome. Thanks for your help.
posted by rd45 to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
I don't have a specific rec, but instagram is a great way to get to know who's out there. It changed the entire world of tattooing for me. It's amazing.

It's pretty easy to go down the rabbit hole, so give it some time. I found a world of tattoo styles I never knew existed. You'll also get a sense of their personalities. Roses are unbelievably popular! Artists tend to do guest spots too. So if you find someone in the States you like, message then to see if they might be in the U.K.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 8:13 AM on June 4, 2017

Most good custom tattoo artists will be patient and understanding with noobs. ("Custom" == doesn't just tattoo on pre-existing catalog flash.) A few things to be prepared for:

-Your artist may recommend that your design be larger than you're planning, to ensure the details stay detailed and crisp over the years
-They may recommend a slightly different body placement than you're planning, either for longevity or to ensure it looks right and moves right on the whole canvas--that is, that it works well with your individual body and doesn't look just randomly tacked on
-It may take more sessions than you're expecting
-You may have to put down a deposit for an initial consultation, which will go toward the actual tattooing cost
-You may have to schedule several weeks in advance (though don't think this is directly correlated with how good an artist is--great artists may have a hole in their schedule next week, not-great artists may still be booked weeks out)

It's challenging to get specific personal recommendations unless you've found someone who has something that's already the same style that you want. There are probably dozens of tattoo artists in that area that would do a great job. There are probably less than an actual dozen who will do an amazing job you'll be happy with forever because the meaning resonates with them and they can create it in exactly the style you want.

So finding the right artist is a narrowing-down process. First, decide if the gender (or other characteristic) of the artist is important to you. Then start researching! Look for a few recommended studios in the areas you're willing to travel (and don't forget you may be making multiple trips, and will be coming home from each session with a part of your body feeling very raw and sore), then start reviewing the portfolios for each of their artists. If these aren't on the studio's website, usually the artists' Instagrams or other personal portfolios are at least linked from the studio's site. Once you find a few that seem like they might be a good fit, start calling around.

I don't usually send people to reddit, but /r/tattoo has a great FAQ on how to find the right artist for you and how to evaluate portfolios.

Good hunting!
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:23 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

That is a great FAQ, thanks.

Not going to lie, I was hoping for some actual names. I know a few studios within 5-10 miles of where I live, none of which are saying This Is The Place to me - beyond that, it's pretty much me vs. the internet.

Never mind. I'll get there.
posted by rd45 at 10:46 PM on June 4, 2017

Patryk Mazur out of Cardiff does beautiful work in black and grey realism.
posted by freshwater at 6:14 AM on June 6, 2017

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