I want to help people get the best tattoos possible. Today I want to talk about the walk-in tattoo. When I started at Iron Age in the mid 90's, we only had one small flash rack. It had about 60 pages on it. I remember there were two pages of JD Crowe panthers. I would do these two panthers in particular at least five times a week. To make it interesting for me, I would change something little about the panther each time I tattooed it. One time the tail would go left. The next I'd make it extra fuzzy. Blue, green, or yellow eyes. Shade the tail solid black. Scratch marks in the skin. If I really wanted to get fancy I would add blue to the panther; Little Vinnie's flash had one like that.
Back before Google and tattoo television shows, the client was in the dark about what could be done. They would come in for a panther head and you would point to the JD Crowe flash. There weren't pages of google images to sort through and confuse the clients.
Most of what is on Google is trash. The images clients bring in are "untattooable". This isn't much of a problem for a solid tattoo artist. He can redraw the images until they are tattooable. The problem lies in the fact that the client has carried around this tattered print out of a crappy flower for the last few months, the whole time working up the nerve to get it permanently marked on their bodies. Then they walk into the shop and get shot down. They are dissaapionted that the design they fell in love with can't be done.
Here are some tips to research you new tattoo with Google.
1. A photo is a good start but kinda boring.
2. Never use tattoo sites like Tattoo Johnny or Tattoo Search. These drawings are terrible.
3. Don't think that using the key words "tattoo+design+awesome+sexy" will work. A good chunk of the tattoos on google are plain junk.
4. Think outside the box. Try keywords like "vintage+postcard+poster+classic"
5. Remember that you are bringing the artist ideas, not tattoos. The images you bring to your tattooist are a starting point; the artist will help you develop the rest of your design.
The last thing I want to add is that you don't need to wait until the 11th hour to come and talk to me. I like it when people stop by just to talk about future designs. There is a good chance that I can do a quick sketch that can help you. At the end of the day, you are selecting the ideas and I am drawing the tattoo.