How to Help a Client Choose Between Tattoo Styles

tattoo styles

With the growing popularity of tattoos around the world, it’s important to know how to approach each client that walks into the shop. Many of your clients might not have any idea of what they’d like to get and it’ll be your job to help them figure it out.

But with so many tattoo styles available, how do you go help your client pick the right one?

We’re here to help guide you through that process. Listed down below is everything you need to know when you get an uncertain client in your shop. Keep reading to learn more!

Explain the Different Styles

A lot of newbies have no idea just how many different types of tattoo styles there are available to them. They might have an idea of what they want, but they don’t know the style direction they want it to have.

Your first course of action is to explain all of the different styles to the client. Sometimes explaining or showing them the available styles will be enough to spark creativity and inspiration.

Remember to show them tattoo styles such as:

  • Traditional
  • New School
  • Religious
  • Pinup
  • Celtic
  • Tribal
  • Realistic
  • Portrait
  • Minimalism
  • Henna
  • Lettering
  • Cover-ups
  • Geometric
  • Watercolor
  • Graphic

Make sure you have a general understanding of each of the styles you excel at. Enough so that you can explain the style in great detail.

It doesn’t make sense to tell a client about a style that you have no expertise in. You’ll only get their hopes up and they might decide to go elsewhere to get what they want.

Show Several Examples

Words aren’t enough when it comes to something as visual and intricate as a tattoo. That’s why you’ll want to include several examples for each of the styles you’re offering to the client.

You’ll want to have at least five of each style so that the client gets a good idea as to what the style looks like. With only one or two, it’s easy to misinterpret what the style entails.

Without visual aids to show to your client, misunderstandings are common. What you might think of as realistic tattoos is what your client thinks of as minimalistic tattoos.

Detailed explanations help, but it’s much better to have a binder full of examples to drive home the idea.

While showing other tattooists’ work helps if you’re trying to give your client inspiration, try to use as much of your own work as possible. This makes certain that you’ll be able to deliver the tattoo exactly as the client envisions in their head.

Ask About Their Interests

Sometimes a client doesn’t have any idea of what they want except for the desire for a new tattoo. This is when you’ll want to start talking with them.

Ask them more about their interests and hobbies. Ask them about any previous tattoos or if they’ve ever seen a tattoo they liked the look of in the past.

Show them your tattoo portfolio and continue engaging them in conversation.

As you talk with one another, you’ll eventually come across something that sparks inspiration. This is the jumping point that’ll lead to the perfect design.

Once you find this jumping point, refine the details and find what it is that makes the client excited. Sketch out some ideas and ask the client what they’d want to change about it. There are countless ways to design a single idea so it’s vital to test out different ideas before settling on one.

Figure Out Their Favored Inking Technique

The way you apply the ink to Japanese-style tattoos is far different from the approach to line art tattoos. These distinctions might seem natural to you since you’re an expert. To a client, these differences aren’t as easy to spot.

This is the time when you’ll want to figure out what they prefer in their inking style.

Do they want a tattoo with smooth ink application or something with a stippled effect? Do they want lots of tiny details or something bold?

Sometimes determining their preference is enough to lead you both towards a tattoo design that makes both of you happy!

Match the Tattoo With Body Location

Not all tattoos work well on certain parts of the body. You’ll often need to make adjustments to the design depending on the intended area. The cylindrical shape of an arm can be more tricky to apply certain tattoos compared to a flat back.

As you come up with a design, ask the client where they want the tattoo. If they’re uncertain, it’s a great idea to suggest easier-to-apply places or places that are simple to hide behind clothing.

Newcomers to the tattooing world might feel more comfortable if they know they can hide their tattoos whenever they want.

If you think of an interesting place for the tattoo, make sure to tell your client. They might not realize that putting a tattoo on that area is even possible.

Decide Between Monochrome or Color

Although tattoos throughout history have focused on black ink, those days are gone. Colorful tattoos are gaining traction on the market and you’ll want to figure out if this is something your client is interested in.

The design of a tattoo can change a lot depending on if it incorporates color or not.

Getting that information early on can make the designing process easier for both you and your client. If colored ink isn’t your preference, make sure to state that upfront. You don’t want to come up with the perfect design only for your client to realize that you only offer black ink tattoos.

If you think a tattoo would be better with color even though the client wants it in all black, offer your opinion. They might still decline the idea, but they might listen as well.

Remember that the client has the final say but you shouldn’t remain quiet when you have ideas to take the tattoo to the next level.

Find a Way to Make it Unique

With so many different tattoos being made every day, you’ll often find yourself repeating similar ideas. The problem is that everyone wants their tattoo to be a unique piece of art. They want it to show off their personality and interests in a way that’s unlike anyone else.

Even if you find yourself inking yet another skull and flower tattoo, make sure to add something new to the design. A small change can make a big difference in the uniqueness of the tattoo.

Add pops of color to the skull or include a backdrop of watercolor-like textures. Offer to add fallen petals around the skull or extra lined details to the petals of the flower.

Whenever you run into someone who wants something a little generic, gently guide them to make subtle changes. You’re the one who studied tattooing for a living after all. A client will be open to listening to your expertise and this results in unique tattoos every single time.

Specifics Are Key

There’s no reason to talk about a tattoo design in vague terms. Whenever you ask your client questions, make sure to be as specific as possible. Don’t let any vague description go untested.

Not only do specifics lead to great ideas, but they also eliminate the risk of misunderstandings.

You’ll always want to take the time to hammer out the details, no matter how minute. Taking this extra time makes it easier for you to deliver a tattoo that makes your client happy. It also will make your job easier in the long run.

Be Understanding

Getting a tattoo isn’t a simple decision for many people. While some people love getting them, others find it more difficult to commit to something so permanent.

Make sure that you always provide your client with a calm and understanding demeanor.

You might spend a lot of time coming up with a detailed design only for the client to decide they want to wait. Offer them a consultation at a later date and save the design. Even if the client decides to skip the tattoo altogether, you’ll still have a cool design to add to your portfolio.

That design might not have been the right choice for that client, but one day someone will come in who loves it.

Showing compassion towards your client is a valuable asset for any tattoo artist. The more comfortable your client feels with you, the more likely they are to return.

Choosing Between Different Tattoo Styles Takes Communication

The main thing to keep in mind is that communication is necessary. If you don’t feel like you’re communicating well with your client, it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate your approach. With so many different tattoo styles to choose from, you’ll need to guide your client to the perfect match.

With the right kind of communication between the two of you, your customer will love their new tattoo!

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