What is a Tattoo Consultation?

What is a Tattoo Consultation?

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As a professional tattoo artist with 26 years of experience under my belt, I’ve been asked countless times: “What is a tattoo consultation, exactly?” Well, you’re in luck. Today, I’m going to break down the crucial process of a tattoo consultation, explain why it’s a necessary step, and even give you a peek into what happens during these appointments at our shop, Altered Flesh Tattoo.

The Importance of a Tattoo Consultation

First things first, let’s address why a tattoo consultation is so important. A tattoo isn’t just a casual purchase or a quick decision. It’s a form of self-expression, a visual narrative, permanently etched on your skin. It’s a representation of who you are, your journey, your passions, or your personal symbols. Therefore, it’s crucial to get it right.

  • Custom designs: A consultation is where we brainstorm and sketch out your custom design. It’s a collaborative process to ensure your tattoo tells your unique story in the most aesthetically pleasing way.
  • Artistic collaboration: It’s an opportunity for you, the client, to build rapport with us, the tattoo artists. You get a chance to understand our artistic approach and make sure it aligns with your vision.
  • Planning the session: The consultation allows us to discuss and plan the session(s), estimate the duration, price, and even help you prepare for the aftercare.

What to Bring to a Tattoo Consultation?

Here is a concise checklist of what to bring to your tattoo consultation at Altered Flesh Tattoo:

  1. Your Ideas: Bring any reference images, sketches, or descriptions that convey your vision. The more we understand your desired aesthetic and the personal significance of your tattoo, the better.
  2. Questions: Prepare a list of any questions you might have about the process, aftercare, the artist’s experience, etc.
  3. Identification: Ensure to have a valid ID that verifies you’re of legal age to get a tattoo, as per local regulations.
  4. Deposit (if required): Some studios, like ours, may require a deposit to secure your tattoo session after the consultation.
  5. Open Mind and Patience: Come with a positive attitude, ready to collaborate and potentially see your initial idea evolve and improve through professional guidance.

The Anatomy of a Tattoo Consultation

Now, let’s dive into what typically goes on during a consultation at Altered Flesh Tattoo.

  • Discussion of the Concept: Here, we talk about your tattoo ideas, what you hope to express, and how you envision it on your skin. Feel free to bring any reference images, sketches, or even just ideas in your head. As a seasoned tattoo artist, I often guide the discussion by asking insightful questions.
  • Design and Placement: We’ll discuss the design aspects, like the size, style, colors, and any specific details. Placement is another important factor we will go over in-depth, as it affects how your tattoo ages over time and its visibility.
  • Estimating the Cost and Duration: Depending on the complexity, size, and location of the tattoo, we’ll provide an estimate of how long the tattooing process might take and the potential cost.
  • Health Considerations and Aftercare: We’ll walk you through the possible health considerations, the healing process, and aftercare instructions to ensure your tattoo heals properly and stays vibrant for years to come.
  • Booking the Appointment: If everything sounds good and you’re ready to move forward, we’ll book the appointment for your tattoo session.

Remember, a tattoo consultation is a non-committal appointment. You’re not obligated to book the tattoo session if the consultation doesn’t meet your expectations or if you need more time to think it over.


Why do tattoo artists do consultations?

Tattoo artists hold consultations to better understand your tattoo ideas, provide guidance on design and placement, estimate the duration and cost, and discuss potential health considerations and aftercare. It’s a collaborative process where both the artist and the client get on the same page regarding the artwork.

What do I need to know before my tattoo consultation?

Before your consultation, you should have a clear understanding of what you want your tattoo to look like, its size, and where you want it on your body. It’s helpful to bring reference images or sketches. Also, familiarize yourself with the tattooing process, healing timeline, and aftercare requirements.

Do consultations cost money for tattoos?

This depends on the tattoo studio’s policy. Some tattoo studios offer free consultations, while others might charge a fee or require a deposit for the consultation, which often goes towards the cost of your tattoo if you decide to proceed.

How long after a tattoo consultation is the appointment?

This can vary greatly depending on the tattoo studio’s schedule, the complexity of your tattoo, and your availability. It could be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. This is something you can discuss during your consultation.

What questions should I ask at a tattoo consultation?

Consider asking questions about the tattooing process, how to prepare, estimated cost and duration, aftercare instructions, the artist’s experience with similar designs, and how the studio ensures cleanliness and safety.

Is it rude to not tip a tattoo artist?

Tipping is a customary practice in the tattoo industry. It’s seen as a gesture of appreciation for the artist’s skill, effort, and personalized service. While not obligatory, it’s often considered good etiquette to tip your tattoo artist, typically around 15-20% of the cost of the tattoo.

Make the Most of Your Tattoo Consultation

A tattoo consultation can be as productive as you make it. Do your research, have clear ideas, be open to suggestions, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Remember, your comfort and satisfaction are our highest priority at Altered Flesh Tattoo.

Here at Altered Flesh Tattoo, we’re dedicated to making your tattoo experience memorable and gratifying. If you’re considering a new piece of body art, don’t hesitate to schedule a tattoo consultation with us. After 26 years in the industry, I can confidently say that the more prepared you are, the more rewarding your tattoo journey will be.

Remember, a tattoo is a lifelong commitment, and the consultation is the first step in this exciting journey. Let’s embark on this artful adventure together!