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   Often we don't sit down to think of what our next tattoo will be, but instead we come across an image or idea and just know that's what we're getting next. There's a lot to think about before you finalize you decision though, because this tattoo is meant to be a part of you for the rest of your life.

   First, make sure this isn't just an idea that you like now, but will enjoy forever. When most people look back at their high school yearbook quote, they're embarrassed that they ever thought that was cool. You don't want that with a forearm tattoo.

   There are two ways of getting an image to put on you for life. One is finding a pre-existing drawing or tattoo from the internet or a magazine or flash, and the other is having you or someone else design something original just for you.

   Flash is the most common choice of pre-existing tattoos, which is the reason it might not be the choice for you. Although it is very easy to find a likable design from flash on the wall in a tattoo shop or on the internet, you need to realize what flash is before you can make that decision. Flash is basic tattoo designs that shops buy from artists to hang on the walls and give customers something to pick from. Tattoo shops make much more money when they are tattooing rather than spending time drawing, so they are encouraging their customers to pick something already drawn. The problem is that the page of flash you're choosing from could be in 300 shops across the country or the world. That shows that thousands of tattoo customers are viewing those exact images every day. The likelihood that a few hundred people have the exact image you are picking is very high. Tattoos should not be mass produced like clothes, and you should never have to meet someone with the same tattoo. You might want to make this permanent addition to your body a little more customized to just you. 

  With the other pre-existing images, you need to be careful. If you choose to get a tattoo that is already on someone else, you need to realize that they might not appreciate that. They might have put their tattoo on the internet to show off the skill and art that went into making it, and wasn't thinking someone would steal it. If you are serious about wanting that image, but want a few details changed in order to make it more suited to you, bring in the picture to your tattoo artist, and they should be most willing to help you with the changes. Then the tattoo is unique to you.

   Some tattoos are of a specific painting or other famous art, and this is considered a tribute to that art piece and not copying it. There have been some beautiful renditions of Picasso paintings as back pieces and other tributes that obviously don't need anyone's permission, though if it's a contemporary artist whose work you're recreating, you could always politely ask. Most artists would be flattered and ask that you send them a picture of the completed tattoo.  The best way to ensure that a tattoo is unique to you and you alone is to have it designed especially for you by an artist. You can ask your tattoo artist to do this for you if you like their style of drawing, and this usually works out really well. A really talented tattoo artist will enjoy doing the tattoo much more if it's their own artwork.

   Unfortunately, many tattoo artists don't want to spend the time drawing for you, and might pressure you into getting something that falls beneath your expectations, you can learn about drawing techniques here. Or they might not have the creativity to design what you had in mind. In cases like these, it is best to have a design all set to bring to your tattoo artist. This way you can be very sure it is exactly what you want and not be persuaded to pick something you didn't have any time to consider. Other than personal artist friends, there are only a few places that provide this kind of service.

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Author: Scott Jones