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How to choose the right tattoo design for you?

What design should I get tattooed? Or How do I know which tattoo suits me? Or do I want to get tattooed but don't know what?


Before we discuss how to choose the right design it's imperative that we understand why we should choose the right design. It's nice to be able to make impromptu decisions however tattoos should always be an exception. As humans, if you don't understand the meaning and if you don't have a connection between the tattoo you get and you as a person, it's likely that you will lose interest in the inked tattoo after a few years.


Below are a few tips that will help you to understand what you need.

#1 - Why should I get inked?

Understand first why you need a tattoo by answering this question for yourself. There are usually 2 broad reasons why people get tattooed.

A) I want to flaunt the tattoo so that I can stand out in the group.

If your reason for getting a tattoo is to flaunt it, then you should choose something that is constant in your life. These constants can be something you love doing or something you stand for or something that cannot be changed even if you want to, for example. Hobbies, Quotes that describe or define you, Astrological signs.

B) I want to tattoo for a reason that's very personal to me.

If you want to get inked because it's personal to you then you should have an open mind. I don't think you should worry about what other people think about this tattoo and so on. Be bold and decide what you want and do not have the slightest doubt in your head about what people will say. { Mind you: We are usually surrounded by people who can teach Sachin Tendulkar (God of Cricket) how to play the game when he gets out on a duck or on 99.}


#2 - How does design get its meaning?


In order to explain this I will have to explain a little bit about how design and tattoos came into existence and why were designs used in the past.

Thousands of years ago when human beings were living in caves and language was not a common factor to tell stories cavemen used to draw designs on the walls to communicate and pass on the story. These designs got more and more detailed and became common among living humans and spread all over the place. For example, the circle and the lines around it were known by most of them as the sun and the crescent as the moon. So depictions of the caveman showing what he did when the sun was out and when the moon was out were drawn on the walls. Eventually, these stories became more complicated and started explaining how he hunted and was painted on the walls.

Then after several hundreds of years when humans started to live as a tribe drawings or symbols were used to explain the status of a person in that particular tribe. Generally, the head of the tribe would probably have a crown or a helmet, etc. Eventually, these designs got more and more complicated and prominent, so simple geometric shapes like triangles or circles started to get meaningful ideas associated with them.

"Design is intelligence made visible." -- Alina Wheeler, author

#3 - What does it mean to have a good design? Why is it so crucial?


Well, a good design will make you cherish it for longer. For example, at Shades Tattoo Studios we do not have a set of designs that a client can come and choose from a manual. I personally like my clients to explain what they like and what they don't like and what type of person they are and using the ideas shared by them I end up creating the right design for them.


I have always been successful at explaining why it is critical to have a meaningful design for my clients. This is done by showing my koi fish tattoo that is inked on my chest and explaining the meaning of it.


In general, a Koi fish tattoo means Masculinity, Prosperity, Perseverance, and Strength. The reason why I got a Koi fish inked is that Kois are known for their ability to swim upstream with a never-give-up attitude. I believe that I have never given up in my life and have been persistent in managing my situations in life, enabling me to become who I am today.


I feel that having a meaningful tattoo is critical because every time I explain the purpose of the koi fish tattoo, I can see the feeling of surprise and disbelief that tattoos can mean so much in my client's eyes, which makes me feel that I have an amazing tattoo. This kind of feeling makes me never get bored of the design as opposed to getting a random design that you can pick up from a manual.


#4 - Mistakes made while getting inked by misinterpreting the meaning.


The biggest mistake anybody can make in tattoos is not knowing the meaning of designs and merging 2 designs to create a completely negative meaning tattoo. These examples will surely make you think twice before choosing a design.


Many people get the initials or names of their loved ones tattooed as a way to express their love; however, I've often seen the reason behind the tattoo become ruined by some poor design without fully grasping the meaning.


A few common mistakes that I have seen and corrected in the past. These are just a few, so please think before you ink.

  1. Infinity with a Name: Infinity means never ending as there is no start and end point in the loop. If we break the infinity symbol and add a name we are breaking the neverending loop and creating multiple start and end points. Doing this means the never-ending meaning is lost.

  2. Arrows with Names: Arrows mean moving forward. Merging an arrow with a name means moving forward from that person. I am sure nobody wants to get a tattoo like that.

  3. Combining Birds or Feather or Wings with Names: Birds or Feather or Wings are generic symbols of freedom, so mixing that with a name could mean freedom from that person.

  4. Broken arrow tattoo: Despite its cool appearance, a Broken Arrow is useless since a broken arrow cannot be used with a bow.

  5. Name tattoo: Always remember that inking the name of your partner is not a wise idea. In today's world tattoos are more permanent than relationships, especially if you are thinking about inking your boyfriend or girlfriend's name tattooed. Getting a name tattoo to impress and expecting the other partner to convince them to love you is never going to work. If you are in a toxic relationship, you should get out of the relationship rather than try to patch it using a tattoo.


#5 - List of tattoo ideas with meanings that will help you choose the right design.


Below is a sample of just a few commonly seen tattoo ideas.

  • The semicolon tattoo(;): it's very tiny and simple and this design is usually linked with mental health issues, especially for those dealing with suicidal thoughts. In general, a semicolon signifies the way you choose to move forward after an unexpected event in your life. The semicolon indicates that your story could have stopped but it didn't as you chose to move forward.

  • The butterfly tattoo: A butterfly in real life has 3 different stages in life namely pupa, caterpillar, and adult. A butterfly's life is considered complete only after it completes the circle of life by becoming a butterfly. Similarly, a woman has 3 different stages in life. She is considered to be accomplished once the individual progresses through the cycle of three different stages in life namely childhood, adulthood, and motherhood.

  • Feather Tattoo: Usually represents freedom. Beware of not merging this with any name as it will mean you want freedom from that person. If you want to ink something that showcases you are free-spirited, then this would be a great design.

  • Unalome Tattoo: This is a versatile design that can be merged with many ideas as Unalome means the path of enlightenment. However, kindly note that the starting loop represents you and if it's clockwise then it's for male, and if it's counterclockwise then it's for female. As a result, when you merge any design at the end, it will represent the journey taken by that person to achieve it.

  • Phoenix tattoo: This mythical bird is known for its ability to rebirth from the ashes it leaves behind when it dies. This tattoo represents Rebirth, Restart, and Renewal in the never-ending circle of life.

  • Animal tattoos: The animal tattoo category provides a wide variety of tattooing options, and the meaning of the tattoo is directly proportional to the real-life characteristics of the animal itself. For example, bees are hardworking, dogs are loyal or honest, and lions are mighty. There is an endless list of options to choose from when you are getting an animal tattoo.

  • Text tattoo: This is a category where you have to be very careful of what you pick as it is very easy to get bored of quotes and names as a tattoo. The most critical thing to note before choosing a text for a tattoo is to choose the right font, the right place, and the right size. If any of the above is not done correctly, then the tattoo will get smudged and visibility is lost.

  • Astrological Signs tattoo: If you are unsure of the tattoo and you believe in astrology, then this is the most appropriate option as it is a constant throughout life. If you are someone who is not interested in astrology, stay away from these designs.

  • Hobbies as a tattoo: It is an interesting way to express your passion for any or all of your hobbies as a tattoo. Use all of your hobbies or just one of them to get inked. Although you may not get the time to follow your hobby or passion due to your busy schedule in life, whenever you get the time and pursue your hobby you will surely enjoy it. Therefore, I consider this to be a constant and could be a really cool tattoo idea. Creativity required for designing such a tattoo should be next level as the design should connect to the person inking this tattoo


Designing Is The Job Of The Artist However, Providing Content To Design Your Tattoo Is Your Job. So A Little Bit Of Research Will Surely Help.


Remember that the artist doesn't know if there is someone like you in this world until you meet them. Don't be afraid to express yourself and help yourself come up with the most appropriate design. Meaningful tattoos add value to your body, otherwise, they are just random art. I always like to say "Decisions taken in life should always be to express yourself and not to impress"

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