Is a tattoo for you?

Between the two of us, Jenn and I have amassed a collection of permanent body art. Tattoos do have a Pringles-like quality to them; once you pop (some ink into your epidermis), you can’t stop!

It turns out we’re not alone in our love for tattoos, we’re among the 40% of Americans who have made a permanent commitment to ink.

Everything you wanted to know about getting a tattoo, but were afraid to ask...

We believe any permanent decision benefits from talking to an expert about the do’s and don’ts, so we asked inked goddess and veteran tattoo artist, Jennie Tiesman of Delicious Ink Tattoo Parlour in Rockford, Illinois, for some advice.

The first tattoo is the scariest (it was for me at least). When a first-timer is choosing a tattoo artist, what should they look for? What are some red flags?

Jennie: I always encourage people to look at portfolios so they can see the style of each artist. Make sure they have clean line work, consistent shading and color in their tattoos. When you find an artist, have a consultation before making an appointment to make sure you're both on the same page with design, price, etc. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Make sure they work in a clean studio (ask to see their health department certificates, ask how they dispose/clean their equipment, etc.)

A lot of my clientele find me through word of mouth, so if someone refers you to an artist, ask how their experience was working with them. Unfortunately I have a lot of female clients come to me simply because I am female and they have had "bad experiences" with male tattooers making them uncomfortable, making sexual comments or asking to remove clothing that wasn't necessary to remove.

Come on 2018, can’t a lady even get a damn tattoo in peace? Urgh.

Jennie: Make sure you research and know who you want to share your tattoo experience with!

Let’s talk tattoo placement: some areas take ink better than others. What body parts would you say are no bueno for tattoos?

Jennie: Fingers, hands, and some areas on the foot heal the most inconsistently. If a client has their heart set on these areas, I won't refuse them, but I make sure they really understand what they are getting themselves into. I show them fresh vs. healed tattoos on those areas so they can see how poorly they may heal. About 70% of the time people change their minds on placement after I go over everything at our consultation.

Instagram has taken tattoo trends to a whole other level. Thin-fine line and stick-and-poke tattoos are everywhere. How do these methods hold up over time?

Jennie: Smaller thin/fine lined tattoos are hit or miss, it depends on how thin the lines really are. I’ve seen some clients’ photo references and think, "wow that tattoo is probably gone by now" because the lines are SO thin. So normally when someone wants me to do something like that, I tell them I would thicken up the lines a bit more to make sure it stays.

I knew about "stick and poke" a few years ago when some tattooers I knew were messing around and doing little tattoos on each other. I didn't realize until a few months ago how common they were and how many non-tattooers were performing them. I think it all depends on who is doing it. If it's your friend doing it with 0 experience, I have a feeling it would heal very inconsistently. There are artists who only do that method. I haven't seen any professional stick and poke tattoos healed in person, but my gut tells me those ones would heal better.

In terms of aftercare, what is the best way to protect your tattoo for the initially and for the long haul?

Jennie: I change my care instructions depending on how big the tattoo is, if we did shading and color, and what my client does for a living. My biggest thing is making sure your tattoo is clean, especially if you work at a hospital, dental office, or restaurant. I heal my tattoos simply by making sure they are clean. I keep them from soaking in water, or being in sun for the first 2 weeks after getting tattooed, which keeps them moisturized. SUNSCREEN IS EVERYTHING! I'm very pale and wear 100 proof sunscreen as often as I can. I have tattoos that are 10 years old that still look great because I refuse to let the sun destroy them.

What sources do you look to for inspiration when designing? What is the best way for a client to collaborate with you?

Jennie: I loving going to museums, zoos, going on hikes and walking through gardens. I'll visually see something and say, "that would be fun to tattoo" and my brain takes me from there. A lot of other tattooers and artists are huge inspirations to me as well.

Are there any tattoo requests would you would reject?

Jennie: I would 100% turn away anything racist, sexist, homophobic, gang related, etc. I also won't copy other tattooers work. There are some designs that people want that wouldn't look good as a tattoo and be too busy, but instead of turning them away I'll brainstorm with them and use their ideas to make the design work.

What are your thoughts on color vs. black ink? We’ve noticed white and watercolor tattoos popping up a lot.

Jennie: When someone asks for a white ink tattoo, I'll go over how it's realistically going to heal (sometimes you can't even see it, or it turns a light grey/yellow color.) I try to talk people out of doing them in the first place. To me, if you're going to get tattooed and spend good money, you should get something you can see and wear proudly. When I have consults for white tattoos I realize sometimes it’s people wanting to get tattooed, but also not really sure if they want to commit to it. Sometimes they are worried about what their job or family might think. To them, white tattoos safer because they aren’t very visible.

As for watercolor tattoos, I do them every once in awhile. I don't personally mind them because I talk people into doing so they heal well. I always add bold black lines and use the "watercolor" effect as a background, or to fill in the linework. I haven't had an issue with them healing or fading. When you get rid of the outline, that's when you run into the issue of the colors fading over the years.

Thanks, Jennie! You already have us thinking about getting our next tattoo fix.

Jennie has worked in the tattoo industry for over 10 years. She started her apprenticeship in 2008, and became a full time tattooer in 2011. Since then she has traveled across the country to guest spot at numerous tattoo shops, and worked at many national conventions. When she’s not tattooing or drawing, Jennie loves working on her mixed art projects, hanging out with friends, family, her dog Murphy, and traveling.

Interested in contacting Jennie about her work? Email her at

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