You’re in a Denver tattoo shop—Lifetime Tattoo, say, or maybe Fortune Cookie Tattoo—and you thought you knew what tattoo you were going to get. But lining every wall are framed images to choose from and piled on the countertops are fat binders to page through. Now you’re wondering how much more thought you should have put into your first ink. While some people walk into a shop committed to a specific image that speaks to them, others have merely a vague idea in their heads of the tattoo they want. No matter what, you’ll likely find it helpful to consider the perspective of the tattoo artist to ensure the image looks as good on your skin as it does on paper. Do you want a “flash” tattoo or a custom one?Flash is the industry term for those tattoo designs you’ll find on a shop’s walls or in its binders. In the best tattoo shops in Denver, all of these are original designs by in-house artists, a good choice if you want something traditional or simple. You’ll know that the on-paper design works well as a tattoo and that the artist has experience executing it. If you want a custom tattoo, review the shop’s flash to see whether their artists’ style is a good fit. Where do you want it? Not every tattoo is right for every body part. Consider carefully the topography of the area you’re tattooing. For instance, the bumps of the spine or the curve of an ankle might affect an image’s symmetry. Areas where skin constantly stretches will distort the image as well—and all that motion disperses the ink particles, making the colors fade faster. Also consider that twitching might disturb the needle’s work, so a design that relies on a great deal of precision should perhaps be reserved for less sensitive areas. How detailed is the image? However skilled the artist’s hands are, they’ll never achieve the precision of the printer. Perfect circles and parallel lines can be especially difficult to execute. (To see what we mean, draw a circle freehand. Now try drawing it on a vibrating sheet of rubber.) There’s also a limit on how fine the detail can be. Because tattoo ink spreads under the skin over time, if lines are drawn too close together, eventually, they’ll blend into each other. Will the colors show up on your skin? Be sure to talk to the artist to determine how your chosen colors will look on your skin. Yellows and pinks don’t pop as well on certain skin tones, while people with very dark skin might only be able to have black tattoos. In that case, a design with strong contrast between black ink and bare skin will be most legible. Because all tattoos fade over time, you’ll want to keep in mind how long colors last. In general, the darker the color, the more resilient, so the base color of the most striking and long-lasting tattoos is black.
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