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The Artist Process for Custom Tattoo Designs

Naomi V
Posted by Naomi V Mar 25, 2014

How does the artist process work for creating custom tattoo designs? Research, concept sketching, and listening to the customer are all part of it, but what does the process actually look like? We asked designer Benjamin Wright to let us in on how he works. He's a true talent and one of our busiest tattoo designers. What he sent are a number of sketches in various stages from rough concept to final color.

 

 

Stage 1: Concept Sketch

The first thing the artist needs to do is talk to the customer. The more details and information the customer can provide, the better for the artist. The meaning of the tattoo, the emotion, and even the visual that the customer has in their own mind that they are unable to put on paper themselves, are all important information for the artist to ask about and figure out before he even sketches anything. Once he has enough information to start, chances are he won't come up with the winning masterpiece right off the bat. A rough sketch is needed to convey the idea that the artist has translated from the customer. Concept sketches can take the artist anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. Again, this is a rough translation of the idea on paper, and not a final sketch. (Concept Sketch pictured below.)

 

 

Stage 2: Continuing to Work with the Customer 

After the customer has a chance to look at the concept sketch, she will be able to tell the artist if he is in the right direction or not. Changes and edits may be requested, or even a completely different direction. Because the concept sketch takes minimal time, changes at this stage are not too painstaking. The artist edits the sketch, sends it to the customer, who then asks for more edits and gives more feedback about the piece. This exchange continues to happen between the two parties until the sketch is almost perfect. At that point, the artist will move on to the next stage!

 


Example of a custom tattoo design piece in progress that is past the concept sketch stage.

 


Another example of a custom tattoo design piece in progress that is past the concept sketch stage.

 

Sometimes the requests are smaller and simpler. We see that Benjamin doesn't waste resources and is able to create custom tattoo designs on a single page. Beautiful work!

 

Stage 3: Finalizing Custom Tattoo Designs and Making Sure the Customer is Satisfied!

As an artist it's important to remember what is being created. This is a meaningful piece of artwork that is specific to the customer, that she will be getting inked onto her skin PERMANENTLY. This is a forever choice. A professional artist never forgets this, and will strive to create a custom design WORTHY of lasting a lifetime. When it comes to finalizing the design, lots of care and effort is put into it. At the end, the customer may still have a few changes or suggestions, and it's the artist's job to discuss with the customer those wants and needs and to create the artwork that they will love forever. 

 


Coloring in process. Sometimes Ben uses digital means to add color and shading to his designs, but it's fun to see a design that's traditionally colored and finalized!

 


Remember that sketch of the kangaroo from earlier? Here's the final!

 

Are you thinking about getting a new tattoo, but not sure what kind of design you want? Why not talk to Benjamin today? Feel free to use the chat feature or PM him at his page here.

 

Interested in posting your custom tattoo design request? Tell the tattoo designers what you want here

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