How to Design a Tattoo That’s Timeless

how to design a tattoo

Tattooing is an incredible art form that dates back several thousands of years. Today, tattoos are done for several reasons ranging from aesthetic to cultural, personal, and emotional reasons. Regardless, they are a creative way of unique self-expression.

Although challenging, knowing how to design a tattoo can be really fun whether a tattoo artist or not. To make the process a lot easier, we’ve broken it down into 6 easy-to-follow steps to help you design not just any tattoo but one that stands the test of time.

Let’s go!

How to create your own tattoo design

1. Choose where your tattoo is going

This might come before or after choosing a design inspiration. You may look at a body part and decide you want a tattoo there or choose a tattoo then decide which of your body parts you want your tattoo to go. 

When deciding on a body part, there are certain factors you need to consider.

  • Consider Visibility

When deciding on where you want to get inked, consider the visibility with various outfits. This might not come to mind when you’re getting a tattoo sleeve. However, consider if you’re tattooing in a private location (or semi-private location) such as the stomach, lower back, or shoulders or somewhere that’s visible to everyone like the, forearm, legs, or full sleeve. This will inform the size of your tattoo design.

  • Consider the pain factor

Pain is an integral part of the tattooing process. Simple and smaller designs hurt less because you’ll need different thinner needles, while larger and more intricate tattoos require (you guessed right) thicker needles.

However, for different people, the pain is felt differently depending on resistance level, and body and skin sensitivity. For some who are just getting inked, the initial phase of the tattooing process is more painful. For others, it is the shading phase that hurts more since the tattoo artist will be drawing over the same area repeatedly, packing ink and color.

Overall, consider getting simpler tattoos on bonier parts such as the wrist.

Once you figure out the place you want to put your design to go, it’s time to find inspiration.

2. Find inspiration

You might already have an idea of the kind of tattoo you want to draw on your body. It’s not bad to still look for other ideas and different styles- it could be more fun than how you’ve envisioned your own design. If you don’t have an idea yet, cool.

Where to find tattoo designs for inspiration

You cook up tattoo ideas, designs, art styles, and themes online. Do a quick Google search on tattoo ideas or browse through websites like:

In addition to these websites, you can browse through a gallery of images on Pinterest and social media pages.

Other places to find tattoo designs

You could also look for tattoo magazines to learn about different styles of tattoos as well as innovations, tips, and trends in the tattoo world.

Art books are also great to find tattoo inspiration. You can scour through pages of art books looking at different artwork, and the periods they were created. You might not use specific artwork you find but inspiration might help in creating your own tattoo art.

You can also check through botanical books for flowers and floral designs that you may find appealing.

If nothing appeals to you from the search, you can just brainstorm something that holds meaning to you. Some of the things to consider when brainstorming include nature, your star sign or birthdate, words and lettering, nautical symbols, memorable events or people, animal drawings, and cultural references. Tattoos inspired by strong personal tastes and beliefs are often timeless than spur-of-the-moment designs.

Jot down ideas or create a mood board or inspiration board with ideas you’ve gathered that you think might be helpful when you create your own art.

3. Start sketching 

Sketching is a way to plan ahead before you get inked.

If you can draw, summon your inner artist to sketch a fantastic tattoo. It’s okay if it’s not perfect. Go over as many drafts as possible. Moreover, rough sketches are effective when communicating ideas to a professional tattoo artist. Your designer can refine the sketch using digital tools to improve the quality and details of your sketch and deliver something close if not the image you have in mind. 

If can’t draw to save yourself,  you can just collaborate with a friend who knows how or employ the services of a professional designer or tattoo artist. Communicate your vision and give them what you’ve gathered on your inspiration board so that they can get a feel of what you want and bring your idea to life. They can also give you advice on the cost, size, location, coloring, feasibility, and type of ink to use.

4. Sleep over the design

Once you get you get your tattoo design created, try to sleep over it. It’s going to be on your body forever, so you need to take time to decide if you’ll still want the design in a few years. You need a timeless design.

Take a few weeks or several months to ponder over it and make sure you still want the tattoo design in years to come before you decide to get inked.

A great way to test the timelessness of your tattoo design is to hang the design somewhere where you can see it every day. If the thrill is still the same after a couple of months, then, you know you want the design inked on your body permanently.

You can also order a temporary custom tattoo design and ask during your initial consultation with your tattoo artist if they can transfer the design on your skin first before opting for a permanent tattoo.

5. Choose a tattoo artist

Go online and check out tattoo artists within your area. Look for reviews and ask for recommendations. Tattoo artists vary in terms of expertise and techniques. Compare the works of one artist to other artists to figure out what style and expertise each tattoo artist has and how it fits your own tattoo design.

For example, if you want a portrait tattooed, it’s best to look out for tattoo artists with expertise in portraiture.

Once you find your artists, you might want to gauge all their opinions and ascertain that they aren’t only licensed but you’re comfortable getting tattooed by them.

Scheduling a design consultation

When scheduling a design consultation, check ahead if it’s free consultation or if you need to make a deposit. Most tattoo parlors will do the consultation for free.

When you visit your tattoo artist, bring them the design if you already have one and explain your vision to them. Consider their enthusiasm and ask as many questions as you may have.

During the visit, discuss the budget, size, time, and the level of pain you should anticipate, amongst other concerns you may have. If you’re making a full sleeve, you might also want to discuss the color scheme that matches the tattoo designs already on your body.

6. Choose your tattoo colors

When deciding on color palette, skin tone and undertone are important factors to consider. You also need to consider the cost and time. Black and gray tattoos (Monochromatic) are less expensive, less-time consuming. and age better yet color tattoos ones rock too they just need high maintenance. You need more touch-ups for tattoos with different colors and that’s an additional cost you need to consider.

You might want to consider smaller designs if you want to ink color tattoos. You might also consider white tattoo, or glow-in-the-dark tattoos to stand out. It’s all based on creativity and of course, your desire.

Once your design is inked, your tattoo artist’s recommendations are important to make the healing process fact and less painful.

Creating a timeless tattoo can be fun yet intimidating especially for people who don’t consider themselves as artists in any sense of it. All Time Design team of professional designers can help you create a stunning tattoo design image that fits just right with the image you have in mind. Whether you’re creating a tattoo for your body, for fun or for a portfolio of original and unique tattoo designs, we’re sure we can help you deliver the best.

Tattoo Design Ideas

There’s no limit to the kinds of tattoo you can design. Let your imagination take you places, be limitless in your creativity.

Check out these stunning tattoo designs for inspiration.

forearm tattoo design ideas

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Upper arm tattoo design ideas

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Tattoo sleeve ideas

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Explore more tattoo styles that you can use for yourself.

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