Signs you're about to get a bad tattoo, according to a professional tattoo artist
- Getting a tattoo can be intimidating, but there are ways to spot bad ink on the horizon.
- Insider spoke with tattoo artist Kelly Killagain about what makes a bad tattoo and how to avoid one.
- She also explained how to find the right artist and tattoo studio for you.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Whether you're getting your first tattoo or your twentieth, there's always the chance that it might not turn out the way you expect.
Insider recently spoke to 30-year-old tattooer Kelly Killagain of 777 Tattoos in Manahawkin, NJ, about that exact problem. She's been working in the industry since 2012 and has become known for her line work and black-ink designs.
As she noted, there are plenty of steps you can take both before and during your appointment to ensure that you don't get a tattoo you dislike. Here's what she recommends.
A 'plethora of factors' can lead to a bad tattoo, according to Killagain
As Killagain told Insider, a tattoo could be bad because it's "technically done poorly," with lines that aren't connected, messy shading, and more.
But you might also dislike your tattoo if it doesn't look the way you envisioned it going into your appointment.
"Other people might look at it and think, 'Well that's a perfectly fine tattoo,'" Killagain said. "But if you leave a shop getting something that didn't meet your expectations, that could also be a bad tattoo."
If you haven't researched your tattoo artist or studio, you've made a mistake
"People will walk into a shop based on a recommendation, which is nice, but they might not look at a portfolio," she said, explaining that art samples are the best way to understand a specific artist's work.
Killagain, for example, typically does line work, dot work, and stippling - all with black ink.
"In the past, it was very common for people to walk into a studio and get any kind of tattoo. As a tattooer you just had to be up for anything," she said. "But now there are quality artists specialising in very specific styles."
That being said, there are a few things to look out for when researching artists, according to Killagain, including "overly edited images" with blurred sections and "weird cropping."
"I always suggest zooming in on tattoos, especially on Instagram," she said. "Tattoos can look great from certain angles or from far away, so really get in there and look to see. Are the lines clean and crisp, or are they shaky? If there's shading, is it smooth?"
Similarly, Killagain says "good tattooers" will post pictures of healed tattoos on their Instagram page or story highlights to show how their work looks over time.
Finally, according to Killagain, you'll want to take note of the artist's availability.
"If someone is always available and they don't have clients, that might not be a good sign," she said. "I think a lot of people aren't willing to wait for the artist they want to work with, so they instead go with a second or third choice."
You don't want to get a tattoo in a studio that's unsanitary
Not only should you feel "comfortable" in a tattoo shop, according to Killagain, but you should also feel safe in regards to cleanliness.
"If you're the first tattoo of the day, you might not be able to witness the cleaning process," she said. "But typically an artist should be sanitising the whole area, and using disposable items."
"Some people are surprised when I put bottle bags over my soap and alcohol, and tell me that other artists don't do that," she continued. "But it's part of cross-contamination. Anything an artist touches needs to be covered."
Most importantly, don't wing it when it comes to decisions about your tattoo
"A lot of people might not realise how much a tattoo might move with the body once it's on you," she said, using forearm tattoos as an example. "At rest, it's going to look one way. When your arm is out, it'll look another way."
"Keeping that in mind is going to help you pick a placement you're happy with," she added. "Trust your artist."
Still, Killagain noted that you should also trust yourself.
"People get shy about speaking up, but there's nothing wrong with doing so," she said. "I personally don't think people are being a pain if they want to move something or adjust something. It's your body, and the stencil is the most movable, adjustable part of the process.
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