The design process


One of the joys of running a small, private studio is the ability to give clients the time and attention they deserve.


The design process is all-important and should be enjoyable. For many it can feel as intimidating as the tattoo itself, especially for first-timers. If you lack a visual vocabulary it is easy to feel clumsy when attempting to explain your ideas and nervous about getting railroaded into something you will later regret. I have 25 years of experience in tattooing a wide range of people with an equally wide range of ideas. I have always seen it as a collaboration that can take a number of paths.


The first step in the process is for me to listen and ask questions. This is best done face to face and takes the form of a free, no-strings-attached consultation. Bring notes, sketches, doodles, reference material; Anything you think will help me understand what you see in your head. Think about size, placement and a realistic budget. Bearing in mind that tattoos can be done over a number of sessions, spreading the cost over a number of months.


I have an extensive design library you are free to use and encourage you to get as involved as you want or need to be


If they are needed, further consultations may follow as well as email exchanges. When we are satisfied with the direction things are going I will give you a rough quote. You will be asked to commit with a deposit and I will begin drawing. It’s worth stating that I don’t design tattoos. By this I mean that any design I produce still belongs to me until you have it tattooed . It then belongs to you and no one else.


I will draw as much as is needed for the tattoo and for you to be happy with the design. This will vary from a sketch to a full colour rendering, depending on the piece  Sometimes I will work using a combination of stencils for detail with freehand drawing on skin for flow so that sometimes only certain elements will be drawn beforehand.


There is a dialogue and negotiation that will continue until the tattoo is finished, which means the design can evolve as we go. The more open to this you are the better. I also have my own ideas and opinions and I will do my best to be honest about what I think will or won’t work. Alternatively. if you like what I do and are brave (or crazy) enough to give me a free hand and a loose brief then that can also be a great thing.


The size and location and the essential elements and style of the piece need to be fairly clearly understood by now as radical changes will inevitably need to be re-quoted. At this point we start tattooing.


This is how I earn my pay, and you earn your stripes. Welcome to the club!