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Tattoo Guilt

I was hoping that some of the more experienced artists could answer this but any input would be appreciated.

I hesitate to use the word 'guilt' but, to a certain extent, it is accurate.

I am 20 years old. I have been tattooing for two years and I work in a studio. I am aware that I will never stop learning and that my journey has only just begun. I always give my best and I feel that my work is always improving.

Recently, I find that I am constantly thinking about tattoos that I have done. I feel confident while tattooing and always like the way that they look after completion. Right after finishing up, I am rarely disappointed or think that I could have done better. Having said this, when I look back at the pieces that I have done, I can't help but feel that I could have done better. I have become more aware of this and, with this realisation, I find myself looking at my most recent pieces and believe that I could have done better on those too. Although the clients are happy, the tattoos 'haunt' me.

I'm not going to post my work on here, I was just wondering if any of you guys ever experienced this. I am a perfectionist and very critical of my own work. Does this feeling ever go away?


RE:Tattoo Guilt

i have been battling this problem most of my life it started for me with drawing years ago and has been haunting me with my tattooing for years now . i think that it is something that all artist go through when they discover that they care about their work .if you didn't care about the work you are putting out then you wouldn't give it a second thought .but caring is the problem and that is why i feel like i am going to go crazy someday every tattoo that i do i will break down until there is nothing left picking it apart and thinking i should of done this or that .but really it was fine the way it was. i have learned that instead of worrying over it you should just let it be and use it as a teaching tool. because basically it will keep you on your toes and force you to think out every tattoo you do and that will make you a better artist . if you think about it almost all of the great artist in the past were said to be mad (crazy) but look at the work that they put out, maybe they all had the same problem as we do . i have talked to many artist and they all say the same thing it never goes away unless you give up on your art and stop caring . so your not alone . hope this helps
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RE:Tattoo Guilt

Many thanks for your response, James. That seems to be a good, logical way to look at it.

I think that I need to draw a line under my past pieces at some point.

With one of my recent black and grey pieces, we completed the shading over two sittings. After the first sitting, I was happy. After reflecting on the pictures that I took, for about 30 minutes, I started to obsess about how it looked. Flipping the image was an interesting exercise. I immediately noticed imperfections. I copied the image Into Photoshop and gradually made alterations. Bear in mind that most of the 'issues' were with light contrast and were 'fixable'. It would have taken longer to notice these imperfections if I hadn't flipped the image for a new perspective. After making the changes and flipping the image back, it looked much better. I then used this as a reference for the next sitting. I also took the opportunity to shade the whole piece in Photoshop, in the hope that it would 'sink in'. It worked out well for me.

Is this a step too far? Perhaps. I felt more comfortable after finishing up than I would have if I had noticed this further down the line. I can rest easy with that piece. Maybe something for everyone to think about when pushing to improve their work, using every tool that they have.

Thanks again.
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RE:Tattoo Guilt

i too have used that method and it does help out . i think that something you mentioned that i didn't talk about was the use of photoshop , you are so right with that one. using that as a tool to take your tattoo and add shading, texture or adjusting the levels of color ,hue , saturation to the tattoo before your final setting is a great way to improve on your work, i think that you are going down the right paths for your work and hopefully someone else will read this and use these tricks to improve on their work too... thanks
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RE:Tattoo Guilt

Hey bro,
I agree, It means you care about your work. And if you think about it, its very normal because as artists we should be constantly improving our craft. so it would make sense that every piece we did in the past, we could do better in the present.

Anyway, I think its exactly how it should be. Being harsh and very critical with your work is the only way to improve your art. Learning constantly from your own mistakes as well as other people's mistakes.

As soon as any artists looks at their work and says to themselves "yea thats good enough", he/she is done. There can be no improvement if there is satisfaction.

So by all means, look at your work and find everything that is wrong with it, and sit and reaaaally think about how you would do better next time!
But don't drag yourself down for what you have done, and rather motivate and excite yourself about what you will do in the future.

Also, a small pointer, is to sit and study every reference picture or design that you're going to tattoo. Just see every detail, every line and think if you can improve anything while you go through in your head about how you will tattoo it.
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