My Tattoo Decision + Design Process!

How To Design A Tattoo

Hey, you winning sperm! How you doing?

Today, we’re going to be talking about my tattoo design process. Because, as much as it may appear that I have a raging addiction (I do) that doesn’t allow for rational thought (. . . I can work around it), I do put a considerable amount of thought into my tattoos before I commit to them.

Now, each tattoo that I have is different and they all came about differently, but when I’m deciding on and designing a tattoo the process is pretty similar. As I actually just planned my latest tattoo a few days ago, I decided now might be a good time to share this process with you – who knows, some of you may end up using it yourself!

Step 1 – The Concept

How To Design A Tattoo

I know that you were probably expecting the image to come first, but the image is actually the one of the last things that I decide on.

All of my tattoos, in some way, need to represent and mean something to me. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with seeing a design and going “oooh, I want that!” but I’ve always imagined myself as someone covered with tattoos that are basically a tapestry of my life. A way to wear my heart on my sleeve; tangible reminders of who I am, what inspires and represents me. I quite like the idea of someone being able to look at me and have a sense of who I am through my skin.

Plus – when I’m 60 I want to be able to point out tattoos to my grandkids (if I’m cursed enough to have them, anyway . . . maybe I’ll just rent out my husband to someone so that he has grandkids and I have the option of sharing my brilliance with younger generations) and tell them the ideas and the stories behind them.

Concepts come from everywhere and smack me in the face. If you haven’t seen my first tattoo, it’s something my family designed. I did this for a few reasons:

  • That arm is going to be an incredibly delicate sleeve going digaonally across my arm and inner arm (so not visible at first) made up of lots of little tattoos that mean a lot to me. The first big piece was dedicated to family.
  • And family is messy and imperfect; it might not be what you thought you’d choose for yourself, but they’re often a perfect fit anyway. I liked the idea of the tattoo showing that – it is a very gorgeous design (because, come on, they weren’t going to stick me with something ugly. Unless I’d left my dad in charge, because my sense of humour didn’t develop on its own.) but it’s not necessarily what I would have picked . . . and I love it all the more for it.
  • It’s something to be added to. Life is what you make of it; if the tattoo had turned out terrible, I would have chopped and changed it until it was something I wanted.

The concept was strongly the thing I wanted – the image itself wasn’t so important. So the first step in my tattoo process is the concept.

I might do an actual post about tattoo concepts I’ve got kicking around if you’d like it – let me know!

Step 2 – Take A Few Months To Think On It

Β The thing with me is that . . . I like a lot of things. I get passionately involved and read up on and watch documentaries about things for a month – and then I move on. While a lot of these things I will still love and want after a few months (my Romeo and Juliet tattoo idea has been brewing for about six months; my co-incidence and fate one has been floating around for years), there are some that I won’t be as invested in. As with anything, I wait for the honeymoon period to pass before I make any decisions.

Step 3 – Once I Like A Concept, I Imagine Explaining It In 10 Years

Do I have any How I Met Your Mother fans here? Remember “the porch test”? Basically, to evaluate someone their best friend was dating, they’d imagine being old, sitting on a porch and playing bridge with them. Someone nice with a good sense of humour would pass – someone boring and negative wouldn’t. Although fiction, this is a good way to make decisions – will it still benefit you in 10 years time?

For my concepts, I like to imagine myself as a 60 year old explaining them – are they still legit? Will they still be meaningful? Or are they fleeting ideas and fancies? Again, this helps me to decide if I really want the tattoo.

Step 4 – Now I Start To Think About Imagery

This step has multiple parts to it; I have a board on Pinterest with loads of tattoo images that I like to look at for design inspo. This helps me to identify style, colour use, size, position and things like that. Once I have an idea for the rough style/size/sort of image I want, I then start to think of individual elements.

Step 5 – Creating a Mock-Up

And then I combine everything to make the kind of design that I want! The great thing about tattoo artists is that they’re artists, so you can walk in with this vaguely weird idea and sketched outline and they can use their brilliant artist brains and make something brilliant. So, yes, my mockup is . . . it’s pretty terrible – but it gives them a really clear idea of the kind of image I’m going for.

Step 6 – Find your tattoo artist!

Once you’ve got the design down . . . all that’s left is to find an artist!

I hope you found this post interesting. What do you guys think of my latest tattoo idea? Do any of you guys have tattoos – how did you decide on them? Are there any you’d get? Let me know your thoughts below!



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32 thoughts on “My Tattoo Decision + Design Process!”

  1. It’s nice that you actually take the time to plan out your tattoos and make sure it’s something you really want. I did the same with mine, but I see some people who get spur of the moment tattoos without taking time to think on them. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you accept that they’re permanent. Of course you can always get them removed or get a cover-up, but for me I plan my tattoos to be permanent so I want to make sure it’s something I like.

    1. Aww thank you lovely πŸ™‚ And yes me too – it’s kind of like “I don’t want to be a NAG but like you realise that’s permanent, right? Maybe more than two seconds of thought is required?” x

  2. Really interesting and enjoyable post! I’ve always thought about getting a tattoo, and like you I would want something meaningful. But also like you, I often get super involved in something and go all out with it, and then drop it in a couple of weeks – particularly song lyrics. So I think your ‘wait a few months to think about it’ is a great idea πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! I hesitantly recommend it – I love them but it’s a total addiction and before you know it you’ll be craving them xD And oh dear god song lyrics are the WORST – there are so many that i love, it’s too slippery a slope to go down. I’d end up like a textbook x_x Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Aha yeah I’ve heard that, aren’t they kind painful though? πŸ˜… saame haha I think I should definitely avoid going down that route, I’d be in the parlour for like a month straight just getting all my favourite songs done πŸ˜‚

  3. I really like this post,It’s a great process to go through so you do not regret your tattoo choice!
    I have an eating disorder recovery symbol on my left forearm,I love it but sometimes I wish I got it in another location as it would save answering question!I also have a really big lotus flower on my back.I wrote a post on it πŸ™‚

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