The Complete Guide on How to Design a Tattoo You Will Love

Posted September 24, 2019 by in Lifestyle
design a tattoo

Have you been trying to decide what kind of tattoo you want to get? Have you been endlessly browsing Pinterest and Instagram looking for inspiration, but haven’t quite found the right idea?

The truth is, the perfect tattoo for you isn’t on anyone else’s body or in any tattoo artist’s flash book. The only way to get the tattoo that’s perfect for you is to design a tattoo. You can also check tattooing101.com for a guide to the history of tattoos to help you get started on designing your tattoo.

Does designing your own tattoo sound completely overwhelming? Scared that you don’t have the artistic skills to pull it off? Don’t worry! Designing your own tattoo isn’t as hard as you might think. Follow this step by step guide and you’ll have the perfect tattoo for you before you know it.

how to design a tattoo

Brainstorm Ideas/Themes 

Most people want a tattoo that represents something specific and meaningful. You might want a tattoo that expresses your love for music, or your passion for a sport, or your heritage. You may want a tattoo that commemorates someone you love or that serves as a forever reminder of an important date.

The point is, deciding what to get for a tattoo takes some serious thought about what’s meaningful to you.

This early in the process you don’t need to have an image in mind. You just need a general idea or a theme. So, narrowing it down to something like “I want a tattoo that expresses my love for traveling,” is enough.

Find Inspiration 

Once you’ve got your idea or theme in mind, it’s time to search for some inspiration. 

Start by Googling tattoos that are related to your theme. So if we’re going with the “travel” theme you might search for “tattoos related to travel.” Search through the images and find ones that appeal to you.

Again, you don’t want an exact replica of someone else’s tattoo. You’re just getting ideas that you can use for your own design.

It also helps to look at the Instagram pages of tattoo artists in your area. Each tattoo artist has their own style, and finding the style of tattoo you want is just as important as designing the actual image. Look for tattoos that artists in your area have done that fit your theme to see what they might be able to do for you.

Bookmark images of tattoos that you really like. When you have a good selection, compare all the images. Think about what elements you like from each image and how you could combine them into your own image. Also, consider how you would change the images to make exactly what you want.

Put Pencil to Paper… or Mouse to Computer 

Now that you’ve got some inspiration and you’ve spent some time thinking about exactly what you want, it’s time to start working on an image.

If you’re artistically inclined, you can start sketching some ideas. And don’t worry about it being perfect. Even a general sketch of what you want can help you and your chosen tattoo artist come up with the final image.

If drawing isn’t your thing at all then you might want to turn to your computer for an assist. You can use a photo editing program to edit some of the images you found to make them more like what you’re looking for. Or you can search for a tattoo design website that will help you create the image you’ve envisioned. 

All you really need is a general image. Unless you’re a talented artist and you want your own work tattooed on you, the image you design won’t be the final image for your tattoo. You’ll need to enlist some help to finalize the design.

Get Help From the Professionals 

Once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for and a draft of the image, it’s time to get some professional help. Decide which tattoo artist you want to get ink from, and book a consultation with them. 

When you go in for the consultation, bring the image that you’ve designed and some images you used for inspiration. Show these to the artist.

You should also spend a good amount of time talking to the artist about the tattoo you want. Showing them an image often isn’t enough for them to really get what you’re looking for.

Explain why the theme you chose in meaningful. Talk to them about why you liked the inspiration images you choose. Even tell them a little about you and your personality. Though this may seem like it wouldn’t matter to tattoo design, it definitely does. Understanding you and exactly what you’re looking for will help the tattoo artist refine your design into the perfect tattoo for you.

Once the consultation is over, the tattoo artist will let you know how long it will take them to finalize the design. They may email you the design for approval, or they may have you come back in for another consultation.

When you finally see the image the tattoo artist has designed based on your initial images, make sure that you absolutely love it before you make the appointment to get inked. As we’ve all heard a hundred times, tattoos are permanent. You really do need to love it because it’ll be with you forever… unless you can afford to get it removed.

Don’t worry about hurting the artist’s feelings. They want you to have the perfect tattoo too. Be honest and ask for any tweaks.

Do a Trial Run Before You Get Inked 

Once you and the artist have come up with the perfect design for your tattoo, you may be tempted to jump right into their chair. But it’s always a good idea to try before you buy when creating your own tattoo.

Create a temporary version of your tattoo before you get inked so you to see the tattoo on your body before it’s permanent. A temporary version of your design also allows you to try out the tattoo on different parts of your body to see where it might look best. 

Get Inked! 

After your trial run, once you’re absolutely certain about the design and its placement on your body, it’s time to get inked! Finalize all the details, including the estimated cost, with your artist and book your appointment!


Tattoos are an amazing way to express yourself and to commemorate the things that are important to you. When you design a tattoo yourself, with a little professional help of course, then your tattoo will be as special as the thing it’s representing is to you. 

If you want some more information about getting tattoos and some inspiration for your design, check out the Lifestyle section of our site.