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Choosing your iconic tattoo image

Getting inked is a big commitment. It turns the ordinary you into living art. Sure, basics are always important, like your tattoo numbing cream, a top ink studio, and the perfect location on your body. Yet people often forget about iconography before having artwork forever etched into the canvas of their skin. Here are three points that will save embarrassment or just a ho-hum piece.

1. Iconography = symbolic representation

Choose something timeless. Timeless means simple, not cluttered, and visually stunning. Remember that color can be both your tattoo’s friend and its enemy. It can draw the eye into detail or become too brash. Contrast can be a better tool than color sometimes.

2. Choose a size that fits you

The best thing about modern tattooing is (for many first-timers) numbing cream for tattoos. This will allow you not to be limited by how much pain you can tolerate. Instead, you’ll get to focus on what looks good on your specific canvas. A large size does not always translate into a powerful tattoo, though. For instance, you may be familiar with the popular semicolon tattoo. It is a simple, small semicolon that silently testifies to all who see it that the bearer has struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts.

3. Choose a simple design and an excellent artist

We’ve all seen them: a horrible portrait of a family member (often a baby) that turns out looking like a blurry Yoda. Instead of choosing a portrait or something complex, you could choose something that represents the idea in an image. A great artist can do portraits on skin, but they can also take a simple icon or idea and make it sublime. Take your time, look at lots of examples of the artist’s work, and look up reviews online. A fantastic idea in mediocre hands makes a terrible piece of art. But even a basic concept in the hands of a masterful ink artist will end up being a joy to behold. Also, time is the best friend of an excellent tattoo artist, so if you do choose to use a numbing cream, make sure it’s a formula that will last up to four hours.

Finally, take some basic ideas and let your imagination play. Small details of someone’s life can transform into an icon that represents them. What would your obituary mention? Start there. What are the thoughts, scents or sounds that make you recall your loved ones? You could think about the exact color of someone’s eyes, how your dog tags glinted in the desert sun, or what it felt like to hold your baby for the very first time. Choose the unusual and create your own masterpiece.

Numbing Cream Applications

Shannon’s Tattoo – Stage 1 by TinyTall licensed under Creative commons 6