The Best Tattoo Possible: Striving For Ideals


When a client proposes a tattoo idea, my first instinct is always to envision the best possible, most eye-catching, most artistically sound visual expression of that idea. This embodies my ethical stance of attempting to give my client what I believe is the best possible finished product, within my abilities, and within the parameters or limitations that they set.


Often no parameters or artistic specifics are included in the initial request, and in the process of describing my best-case scenario to the client, they’ll either realize a greater possibility than what they originally envisioned, or they’ll realize certain preferences or limitations that weren’t initially clear to them.


In the latter case of discovered limitations, deciding on the final design involves a process of shooting for the highest possible achievement and working backwards from there, as each new parameter or limitation decreases the overall artistic potential. This reductive process is more complicated than a simple yes/no response, because it assumes nothing while opening the range of potential as wide as possible.


So although they can lead to a more tedious consultation phase, I usually find these steps necessary to fully understand the client’s wishes and ensure I’m giving them not only what they want, but also the best possible version of what they want within their stated parameters. The alternative to not thinking in best-case scenarios is all too often a later realization by either the artist or client that the tattoo could have been better in some easily achievable way.


Although not always possible for a client’s tastes, budget, or tolerance, my best-case tattoo visions are always grounded in solid artistic principles learned through years of study and experience, and tempered by the knowledge of what is possible to achieve on skin.


Solid artistic principles include compositional theory to lead the eye effectively through an image, the use of light and dark values to create form and dimension, and the use of color to create mood, atmosphere, or focal points.


Since tattoo materials and the human body present some limitations on what’s possible, these artistic principles are tempered by specific knowledge of tattooing, such as how best to apply an image to a 3-dimensional canvas, and how design elements should be rendered in order to look great over a long period of natural skin aging.


I consider my knowledge and ability to be a spectrum that’s always expanding in some way. I want to offer my tattoo clients the full range of what my spectrum includes at any given time. After having been shown or described the full range of what I know I’m capable of, it’s their choice how much of it they end up taking advantage of. But in the end, every tattoo idea and unique set of parameters has its own ideal and attractive solution.