I am really excited about this topic. All artists are different and there are many different ways to approach this, so we will talk about a few to get it going...
You want to get a tattoo, and you want to go to an artist you have never worked with before or this is your first tattoo and you are not sure exactly how to go about this, but you think you are educated cause you have watched LA ink or the other tattoo programs...But here is some things that would benefit you and your artist you are going to be working with.
First of all do your HOMEWORK! There is so many ways you can do this now. Thanks to the internet you can look up all kinds of shops in your local area and see online portfolios. You can also do it the old fashioned way and go into a tattoo shop around town, look at the portfolios, and just check out the vibe. Portfolios are very important. When you go into a shop take your time and look at the artist's books, don't flip through absentmindedly (its rude) and when you look at a portfolio it shows you care about the kind of work you are getting. When you do meet an artist that you are connecting with, set up a consultation with them.
Here's the steps for your consultation:
If you have reference material that you have collected over the internet or from books, bring them in with you. If you don't have any reference to provide but you love the artists style, then simply explain what you want to do and keep an open mind that you are giving them freedom to design your piece as they see fit.
When bringing in reference material, I recommend keeping it down to a few images that you like or don't like to help explain what you are interested in. I don't recommend bringing in a butt load of printouts- this is too confusing to decipher- or us artists will think you want a backpiece.
I think making an appointment for your tattoo is nice, because it is all planned out, and there will be a step by step process for it. If you are going to an artist that has a wait for appointments, that could be a good thing because they are probably spending a lot of time with each client.
This doesn't mean walking in for a tattoo sucks. This could be a lot of fun to think about a tattoo you want to get for 5 minutes or an hour. It's spur of the moment, out on a whim, Fuck yea moment. But if your going to do that then make sure to go to a shop that you have been to before, or have a referral to. Otherwise it could end up being a cover up!
Here's some tips for the tattoo session:
Eat before you come in!
Take a shower if your stinky.
Don't be drunk or on pills.
Don't talk on your cell phone all crazy.
Definitely don't bring your kids.
or un-supportive spouses either.
and have fun!