Tattoo Flash Rack filled with generic designs which people pick off the board and get the same tattoo as thousands of other people.

At Sanctuary we are very much of the belief that you should acquire tattoos when you are ready, and and when you are sure about what you desire in a tattoo. Like almost everything in life, the clearer you are about what you want, the easier it is going to be for you to manifest it.

There are two basic ways of approaching tattoos…

  1. Flash: Pieces that are already drawn so anyone can pick from the wall of a shop and have tattooed onto them.
  2. Custom Tattoo Drawing by Wilhelm Scherer

    One of a Kind Custom Tattoo Drawing by Wilhelm Scherer

    Custom work: You and your tattoo artist discuss your ideas, and then working from sources you have provided or from their own library, (s)he prepares a unique piece especially for you which only goes onto your body.

Traditional Rose

Traditional Old School Rose by Ryan Fleming

Here is a basic list (by no means comprehensive) of tattooing styles. You can often find most of these approaches in flash, however custom work can accomodate the specifics of your needs in a way that flash rarely can. For the most part if you can imagine it, you can find a way to make it a tattoo. Nearly ANYTHING can serve as a reference for your idea, and any subject matter, culture, historic period, theme or interest can be the inspiration for your tattoo.

  • Traditional (aka Old School) (hearts and roses, anchors, birds, daggers, banners and hula girls to name but a few)
  • New School (bold bright colors strong graphics often combining modernand traditional images and themes but with a modern twist and usually more elaborate shading and color palate than true old school)
  • Classic Tattoo style (skulls & roses, snakes, banners and fancy script, animals, celestial themes, etc)
  • Celtic (knotwork, zoomorphs, traditional celtic imagery)
  • Traditional Japanese (sleeves & body suits usually using imagery from Japanese mythology)
  • Black & Grey (any kind of tattoo style can be done as a black and grey piece, it is charecterized by its soft washes of shading and generally fine detail)
  • Nature Themes
  • Astronomical
  • Nautical (ships, pirates, anchors, compass roses, fish, sharks, sea birds, etc in traditional style or more realistic or decorative styles)
  • Classic Lettering
  • Graphic Text
  • Symbols
  • Whimsical
  • Bio-Mechanical
  • Pin-up Mermaid by Scott Bruns

    Pin-up Mermaid by Scott Bruns


  • Floral & Botanical
  • Decorative
  • Cosmetic (such as eyeliner, lipliner, eyebrows)
  • Restorative (such as nipple reconstruction, skin repigmentation…)
  • Fantasy
  • Polynesian
  • Religious & Spiritual
  • Watercolor (lots of color little to no black outlining, looking like a watercolor painting)
  • Anime’ Cartoons (starting to become its own category tattoos based on Japanese Anime, Comic book characters or other cartoons)

    Dog Portrait by Wilhelm Scherer

    Dog Portrait by Wilhelm Scherer

  • Realism either in color or black and grey based on photographic imagery including portraits

Here are a few suggestions to prepare for the reality of your next tattoo.

  1. Start a Pinterest Board or a FB album for your ideas, or set up a folder on your computer or tablet, or get a note book or large envelope/folder and start to search for images for the particular project you are considering. Collect and save the copies of the images you like.Notice the things you like, but also notice what you do not like. Try to clairfy what works about the ones you like and what does not with the ones you don’t.
  2. Dragonfly Tattoo by Jennifer Moore

    Dragonfly Tattoo by Jennifer Moore

    You can look anywhere for reference materials, children’s books, artbooks, magazines, catalogs, photographs of the subject, posters, paintings, Cd’s, DVD’s even designs on clothes or other objects that you like. The web is a wonderful place to start. Don’t worry about finding a tattoo image, just look for a good representation of the subject you want your tattoo to be about. For example: instead of searching for “dragonfly tattoos” search for illustrations and photos of real dragonflies. A good tattoo artist can take the reference materials you provide and design a wonderful tattoo for you. Google Image Search is a great resource for all kinds of pictures

  3. Start looking through tattoo magazines for examples of work that you especially like, copy or save the ones that especially appeal to you.
  4. Note who the artists you like are.
  5. And also note if there are particular styles you are especially drawn to.

Take your time to find the best artist for you. There are three primary issues to take into consideration.

  1. The quality & style of their work.
  2. The safety protocals of their studio
  3. Their attitude and philosophy.
  • Save some money and plan to budget for your piece.
  • Obviously smaller tattoos are going to cost you less than a larger one, however in tattooing the most important thing is that the size of the piece should be proportiate to the placement on your body as well as the degree of detail you desire. In tattooing size does matter. The larger a piece is, the more detail will read well, and the better it will hold up over time.
  • Most artists prices range between $100–$250 an hour (average is anywhere between $125-$180)
  • Most artists have a minimum rate to cover their set-up for very brief tattoos
  • Small pieces usually take between 1/2-1-1/2 hours
  • medium pieces between 2-6 hours
  • Large pieces usually take mutliple 4-6 hour sittings.

So, as you anticipate your next tattoo, remember the three P’s of tattooing. . .

  1. Planning
  2. Preparation
  3. Patience

By making the effort to plan and prepare for the design of your next tattoo and by having the patience to wait for the right time with the right artist, you will be well on your way to assuring yourself a piece of art you can happily wear on your body for the rest of your life.