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How to Prepare Someone for Their First Tattoo

Learn how to prepare someone for their first tattoo from acclaimed tattoo artist James Vaughn in this Howcast video.


I usually talk to the person and find out - I really tell them that in this day and age that really, their imagination can be a reality to them, for whatever they want, because I'm a really good artist at what I do and they tall me their ideas. I can draw them right on you. Mainly you get people like "I don't know. Can you show me something on a piece of paper or something?"

It's really so much easier for me to draw on you than it is for me to draw on a piece of paper because I can draw all day on a piece of paper and place it on you and be totally off. It won't fit. It doesn't look right because I angled it, you know I drew it at one angle and your arm was moving in a different direction. So, I mean there's a lot of things going on in your first tattoo, You've got to really think, do you really want that rib tattoo for your first tattoo? I usually don't suggest it. Do you really want that lower back tattoo? No.

Think about something that really means something to you and when you get your first tattoo make sure it means something. I'm not into the whole script thing for the first tattoo, because my philosophy with tattoos are their symbols, don't label them. You don't want somebody reading you for the rest of your life. You know, "Turn around. Let me see what this says."

It's another one of those things. You want to see beauty rather than wanting to read something. Having some Kanji, having people ask you what the hell that means. I mean really investigate what you really want because designs are a reflection of what you are as a person. A guy comes in and wants a Phoenix with lotus flowers at the bottom and maybe cherry blossoms up at the top. But I say, "What do you want? Do you want the base to be water and wind at the top? Or do you want it all wind?"

Basically I will have 30 Phoenixes on the wall and I'll have 10 different lotuses and a whole bunch of cherry blossoms around so when I'm looking at it and putting it all together I'm compiling all these images in my head and then I would like "Do you want this to come down or how do you want it to flow? Do you want it to flow like this one, or do you want it to flow like this or like this?"

Mainly they're picking their ideas and then telling me what they like about them and then I'll actually draw it on them. We're going to give you the best option to get a good tattoo.

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