Tattooing: Step by step


Tattoo roadmap to success

Have a clear vision but be open to change:

This is intended to be a permanent procedure, and it's your body. The better that you can articulate your vision of what you want to your artist the better. Having good source materials to work from can be very helpful as well. While your artist will try their best to design what you want, it's also important to understand that changes may be needed in order to get a good quality tattoo that will look good for year. Please be open to the feedback that your artist may suggest.

Consultation with your artist:

Get in contact with your artist. We want to meet up before your tattoo sitting to discuss various aspects of your future tattoo including placement, sizing, & cost.

Approve the design:

Once the general design idea is to your liking then commit to the decision to get it done. For tattoos done by appointment, a deposit is typically due at this point. Between the consultation and the day of the procedure, small changes can be suggested by the client or artist but the general idea should be fleshed out by this point. On the day of the tattoo, a final design will be shown that you need to approve before moving forward.

Fill out some paperwork:

There's a basic pre-procedure form that we require to be filled out. Please also be sure to bring a valid state or federal issued picture ID, we'll make a copy of that.

Wait for your artist to make a stencil:

The final design needs transferred from paper to skin somehow. This is where a stencil comes into play. Key lines and parts of the design will be traced to a more simplified view for the artist to follow.

A quick shave and prep:

A little bit of detergent/soap may be applied before a new razor is used to shave the area that will be getting worked on. Afterward the razor is throw away in the bin. Then isopropyl alcohol may be used to prep the skin for the next step.

Applying the stencil:

Once the skin is dry, clean, and free of hair, it's now time to rub the area with a stencil application product. The skin may feel tacky at this point that that's normal. Your artist will now line up your design and press the stencil paper into place. During this process it's important not to stand awkwardly or tense up as it could distort the design. This is also the time to make sure the piece is aligned correctly, and can be the last chance to make any changes or corrections.

Setting up the machine:

It's almost time but your artist will need a moment to prep their workstation. This will be when you see the pigment being dispensed, and fresh needles being put into the tattoo machine. Once a fresh pair of gloves is put on, it's probably going to be go-time very soon.

Give your artist the green light:

Once your artist asks if you're ready, then we're about to begin. If you're ready then give them a positive acknowledgement and we'll get started.

Start the tattoo:

Most tattoos require some form of linework at the beginning. While the needle depth should be properly set by your artist, you may see them make an adjustment early on. Every artist is different, some may start in a certain area and work out from there. Others can work like a copier and work a design from bottom to top. In general, they will work in a way to avoid wiping off the stencil over time.


No matter when or where you get a tattoo, there will be a certain level of pain involved. Some areas are more sensitive than others, and some styles (such as color vs black & gray) can involve different levels of discomfort.

"The wipe":

There's likely going to be a fair bit of pigment around the area being worked on. Overtime this will accumulate enough to the point where your artist will need to clear away the excess. Most artists use Green Soap to clean the area. For longer sessions this part of the process can be jarring as it provides a harsh cooling effect to the sensitive skin.

Take a break when needed:

For a small or medium sized piece, after the linework is done, it can be a good idea to take a short break. Breaks can be a good time to discuss anything related to the work being done. If you have any questions or concerns during any time of your visit, please speak up; you don't need to wait for a break.


For some designs, your artist may need to get your body in slightly different position to achieve an optimal position.

Finish the session:

After linework is done, then it's usually time to do some shading This can involve a larger grouping of needles depending on the size and scope of the design. For full color designs, expect to see lots of wiping of the needles and dipping into the pigment; there can be a lot of needle cleaning and color mixing for some designs.

Final Wipe & Clean:

You did it! Your session is done, let's do a final wipe down of the area and let the area breathe for a moment. After a few moments some artists may apply an antiseptic spray that also relieves some of the pain.

Apply a bandage:

One final step before we're done is going to be applying a barrier between your new tattoo and the environment. It's not uncommon to see a second skin type product applied at this point.


Oh, one last small detail before we let you walk out the door. Once the tattoo is complete, payment is due in full. Some artists work on an hourly rate, and some are quoted out per piece. Pricing can also vary from artist to artist, but regardless of how much the work is the price should have been communicated earlier so there should be no surprises when we're finished. If you had a great experience and are thrilled about the finished product, tips are not required but always welcomed.