How To Email A Tattoo Artist – Everything You Need To Know

Knowing how to message a tattoo artist about a new tattoo can be intimidating at the best of times. When you suffer from anxiety, it’s even worse. “Am I saying the right things?” “Will they ignore me?” “Even worse, will they laugh at me?”

Trust me, I know the feeling. I’ve literally spent hours writing messages to tattoo artists, rewriting every line hundreds of times. Now that I’ve emailed a lot of artists I’m (slightly) less anxious about the process, so I’m going to help you understand how to do it without worrying.

The best way to message a tattoo artist about a new tattoo is to keep the message straight to the point about the tattoo you want, including details on the overall idea, placement on your body, size and any similar tattoos you want to use as a reference.

I’ve included a couple of template messages to a tattoo artist below that you can copy, plus I’ve explained every part in detail later in this article.

Subject: Tattoo inquiry – Traditional Medusa head


Can you let me know when your next available appointments are please? Ideally in the morning if possible as I work in the afternoons, but I can be flexible.

The tattoo I want to get is a traditional Medusa head in colour. It’d be on the front of my thigh, which has a couple of other pieces on but there is a decent amount of space – see attached pic.

I’ve attached a couple of reference pics from your Instagram. I really like the overall composition of the head/top of shoulders in the female portrait. Overall I’d want the face to look like that, rather than the zombie/monster style Medusas. For her necklace, I think gold with red gems would work well. And something similar to the snakes from the second example would be perfect for the snakes in her hair.

In terms of size, the space is roughly 8 inches tall x 10 inches wide.

Let me know your thoughts and if there’s anything else you need to know. I can come in to the shop to talk about it more if that’s easier?


This example would be used if you are messaging a local artist who you can travel to at any time. Remember to add in the artist’s name and your full name to the template.

Subject: Portrait tattoo, 10th-20th July?

Hey (Artist Name),

I came across you on Instagram and love your work. I’m going to be in London from 10th-20th of July and wondered if you had any availability please?

I want to get a realism portrait of my daughter in black and grey. I’ve attached a few pictures of her that I’d be happy with getting, so please pick whichever one you think would work best.

This would be going on the top right of my back around the shoulder blade area. I want to get it pretty big, roughly the size of an A5 piece of paper.

Please let me know if there’s anything else you need to know? Look forward to hearing from you!


(Your Full Name)

This example would be used if you want to get tattooed by an artist in a different city or country when you are travelling. Remember to add in the artist’s name and your full name to the template.

You can chop and change those templates however works best for you and your situation. Or just write a message in your own words and use those templates as cues.

Whichever way you pick, here’s everything you need to know about how to message a tattoo artist.

Should I email or DM a tattoo artist?

There are two main places to message a tattoo artist – Instagram direct message (DM) or email. Some will book in via text or WhatsApp, but that’s rare. This is the first thing you should check. It’s no use crafting the perfect message and then sending it to the wrong place. 

I find that roughly 70% of tattoo artists prefer email, and 30% do bookings over DM.

Most tattoo artists these days use Instagram as the main platform to showcase their work, and 99% of tattoo artists will include the best way to contact them in their Instagram bio. So that’s the first place you should check.

This tattoo artist handles bookings via email
This tattoo artist handles bookings via DM

On the rare occasion a tattoo artist doesn’t list a contact method in their bio, you can DM them and ask what the best way to book in is. You could also ring their shop to ask (you’ll find the number on Google), but if you hate phone calls like me that will probably be a last resort.

Best subject title for a tattoo email

If you’re emailing a tattoo artist, you need to pick a subject title for your email. Pick a short subject title that gives a brief summary of the tattoo you want, and any potential dates you had in mind. 

Don’t leave the subject blank – if your email is listed in the artist’s inbox as ‘no subject’ it could easily get missed.

How to greet a tattoo artist on email

Yep, I’m so obsessive that this is the kind of thing I worry about. Don’t judge. Is ‘hello’ too boring? If I say ‘hey’ will they think I’m being overly familiar?

When it comes down to it, there really is no need to worry about this. And you can trust me on that, because I love to worry. A tattoo artist will have hundreds of emails to go through every week, and they’re not going to pay any attention to how you greet them in an email.

One thing you might be wondering is how to find out a tattoo artist’s name for the start of the email if you only know them as their Instagram handle. You can find this by going into their Instagram bio – it’ll usually be listed beneath their handle. If it’s not listed, a simple ‘Hi’ without a name is fine to start the email with.

Booking a date for your tattoo

I usually find the best thing to mention first in the message is the dates I’m looking to get the tattoo. If you’re getting tattooed by someone local to you, this will probably be down to when their next availability is. So ask them that, then pick a date when they reply with options. If you have particular slots in mind due to work commitments, e.g. morning or afternoon, mention that in the email as well.

If you’re going to be visiting an artist while travelling, mention the specific dates so you can find out if they’re available then.

When booking in with a particular artist, you’ll need to be flexible about your appointment date and time, so try not to be too picky. It’s best not to request a specific time and date in the first email unless you definitely know their availability.

Explaining a tattoo idea to an artist

Now we’re getting to the good stuff – explaining the idea behind your actual tattoo. This is an overall description of what the tattoo will be of. 

If you have a very specific idea in mind, you need to give as much top level information as possible without writing an essay. I know it can be tempting to write loads, as it’s probably something you’ve been thinking about for a long time.

But tattoo artists are very busy people, and they’ll appreciate it if you get straight to the point. If you’ve picked your tattoo artist carefully, you should be able to give them a rough outline of a design and be happy with what they come up with.

Start by saying what it is you want a tattoo of. Describe it clearly, and mention every element that’s important to you.

You also need to mention what style you want the tattoo in. Many tattoo artists will have one signature style, in which case you probably don’t need to mention anything to do with style other than if you want colour or black and grey. 

However, some artists will tattoo in a range of styles, so be clear about what you’re looking for – traditional, black and grey, realism, Japanese, neo-traditional etc.

The story behind your tattoo

There’s every chance you have a very personal story behind wanting to get your tattoo. While this is fine, it’s not something you need to include in your first message to the tattoo artist, unless you somehow need to mention it to explain the design properly.

Remember, you’re trying to keep the email as concise as possible, so info like this isn’t needed.

Reference photos

Reference photos are the best way to explain your idea to an artist. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s going to save you a lot of anxious emailing.

If you can, stick to photos of the artist’s own work and reference elements of them to explain what you’re looking for. If you’ve picked your artist carefully for the style of tattoo you want, you should have plenty to go off.

In a situation where you need to use a photo of someone else’s tattoo as a reference, be clear that you want something similar in the artist’s style. Do NOT ask for an exact replica of a tattoo you’ve found online (Pinterest, I’m looking at you). This is a big no-no in the world of tattooing. And if you did somehow find an artist who was willing to copy an online tattoo line-for-line, you don’t want to be getting tattooed by them anyway.

How to describe tattoo placement to an artist

You also need to let the artist know where you want your tattoo to go. There are a couple of things to consider here.

First, tell them the exact body part where you want the tattoo to go. Be specific. If you want the tattoo on your leg, don’t just say “on my leg”. Tell them exactly where on your leg. Inside of thigh, back of calf, front of shin?

Next, if you have any other tattoos around the area, make the artist aware. The best thing to do in this case is to include a picture of the space you want the tattoo. This lets the artist plan how best to fit the design in the space, and if possible, to tie in well with the surrounding tattoos in terms of colour etc.

Try to get someone else to take the photo of the area so that your body is in the most natural position possible.

If it’s a coverup, include a picture of the tattoo you want covered up. Mark it clearly if there are other tattoos around it.

Even if you don’t have any other tattoos, for certain body parts the artist might ask for a picture of the area where you want to get tattooed. You don’t need to include this in your first email though – your artist will ask if they need it. They may want to check the natural curves of your body to work out how the tattoo will fit. I’ve had this request before a back tattoo, as the artist wanted to check if I have prominent shoulder blades.

The best way to explain the size of a tattoo to an artist

The absolutely best way to give an idea of the size of the tattoo you want is to give measurements. Get a ruler or tape measure and roughly measure the area. Mention the height and width in inches or centimetres in your email.

An alternative is to compare it to common objects that come in standardised sizes. An example would be A4 or A5 paper, DVD cases, or coins if you’re getting a smaller tattoo.

Your artist needs to know the size of your tattoo for two reasons: how to design it, and how long they need to book you in for. The larger the tattoo is, the more detail they’ll be able to fit into the design, and generally the longer it will take.

Be open to the tattoo artist’s ideas

I always find it best to end my emails to tattoo artists with something along the lines of “let me know what you think would work best” or “would love to hear your input.” This opens up further discussion and shows you’re willing to work with them to achieve the best design possible.

Signing off an email to a tattoo artist

It might feel weirdly formal, but try to sign off your email or message to your tattoo with your first and last name. They’ll have a lot of messages to deal with, and giving your full name will help them keep track of who you are especially if you have a common first name. 

If you don’t want to include your last name that isn’t the end of the world. They’ll probably just refer to you in their diary by your first name and the design you’re getting: ‘Emily – Dagger through heart’ for example.

Should I ask for a price in the first email to a tattoo artist?

Don’t ask for a price for the tattoo in your first email. Once your tattoo artist has replied to your first message with any follow up questions and got you booked in, that’s when you can ask how much the tattoo is roughly going to be.

The only exception to this is if you’re going to need to save up to get the tattoo, and the cost will make a difference to when you’ll be able to afford to book in. Even then, you can’t expect an exact price, but they might be able to give you a rough idea.


So now you’ve sent your carefully crafted first message to your tattoo artist, it’s time for the hard part – waiting. Here’s what to expect after you’ve sent your opening message to a tattoo artist.

Tattoo artist auto-response emails

Some tattoo artists will have an auto-response set up on their email inbox which automatically sends a templated reply to every brand new email they get. This might contain a bullet point list of everything you should include in a tattoo brief, so check through it carefully and make sure you’ve covered all the points they ask for in your original email.

If you haven’t, don’t worry. Just reply and add in any of the extra information they need.

What if my tattoo artist doesn’t reply?

Tattoo artists are busy people, and you shouldn’t expect an immediate reply to your email or message. A lot of tattoo artists will have a set day of the week where they deal with emails and new appointments, so don’t be surprised if it takes at least a week for them to get back to you. Be patient and they’ll get back to you eventually.

Messaging a tattoo artist for the first time can be nerve-wracking, especially if you don’t get a reply. Don’t worry – that doesn’t mean you’ve said something wrong. Don’t be tempted to send them another email after a couple of days to chase them, as this will just clog up their inbox. If you don’t get a reply after two weeks, then you can send a follow up email as they might have missed your first message.

If you feel nervous about sending a chaser email, one thing I’ve found works well for me is to send a follow up email with more information about the tattoo. Something like “Hey, one more thing I wanted to add to the below, ideally 

What if my tattoo artist left me on read?

If you’re DMing an artist, you’ll be able to see when they’ve read your message. Sometimes you’ll see that they’ve read your message but haven’t replied. Again, this doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong or that they won’t get back to you, so don’t worry.

There’s every chance they quickly read your message while they were busy and made a mental note to get back to it later. Or they save all their messages to get back to on a day when they don’t have appointments. Remember, tattooing is a job (a pretty amazing one), and they might have read your message when they’re having some time off.

My tattoo artist seems ‘off’ with me

If you suffer from any sort of social anxiety, emails or messages can be a nightmare because it’s very hard to sense tone in written text. I always read too much into texts and assume someone is annoyed at me or isn’t interested in what I have to say. 

This has happened a couple of times when emailing tattoo artists, but I really had nothing to worry about. When I met them in person they couldn’t have been nicer. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Tattoo artists are SUPER busy, and they have to be efficient when replying to emails.

If you think they’re being off with you or even rude, 99.99% of the time this isn’t the case. Remember, you like their work enough to get in touch with them and ask for their art permanently on your skin. That’s a HUGE compliment 


That should cover all the main points on the best way to message a tattoo artist. Hopefully that has made the process a lot clearer for you, and made you less nervous to go out there and get tattooed by your dream artist!

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