T a t t o o
A r t i s t s

Duration 3 Weeks

The goal of this project was to study a group or culture that was different from our own in order to understand their motivations and needs. 
For this project, my team decided to dive into the world of tattoo artists. We discovered that tattooing was more than just a job for these people, but a lifestyle, form of expression, and form of helping others. 

Teammates: Aldric Koolman, Chermia Mathis, and Ashley Alred
All work below is my own unless stated otherwise.


Initial Phase / Research / Synthesis / Insights
T a t t o o 
C u l t u r e

Images Source: Google 

Building an Understanding
Initially, I tried to immerse myself into the culture around tattoo artists. This was to improve my understanding of tattoo artists before we went out to do interviews and observations. 
A s s u m p t i o n s
Understanding Our Biases
We recorded all of the different assumptions that we had about tattoo artists in order to inform some of our interview questions. Outlining our assumptions also allowed us to be more aware of some of the biases that we had. 
T h e
P l a n​​​​​​​
What we did?
Reached out to local Tattoo Shops in Atlanta, GA
Why?
To understand their experience as a Tattoo Artist
How?
Prepared Interview Questions
When?
After 5pm or when they did not have an appointment

Image Source: Google Maps

Initial Phase / Research / Synthesis / Insights
I n t e r v i e w s
The Artists
We went to two tattoo shops to gather evidence. We interviewed three different tattoo artists, all at different levels of experience. We learned a lot about these tattoo artists through these visits. It was interesting to see how these three artists were similar and different. 
O b s e r v a t i o n s
The Shops
Some images courtesy of Aldric Koolman
Some images courtesy of Aldric Koolman
Every tattoo shop has it's own unique personality. The shop pictured above was covered in flash art, which happened to be the predominate style of the tattoo artists there. We also noticed a variety of objects within the shops, such as taxidermy, humorous signs, and various types of merchandise. 
Initial Phase / Research / Synthesis / Insights
E m p a t h y
M a p s
Three Artists
We used empathy maps to chart the different things the tattoo artists said, thought, felt, and did. This was helpful in understanding the differences between the artists. This also helped us track their behavior in the differences between what they said and did. The identities and shops of the tattoo artists have been redacted for privacy. 
T h e m e s​​​​​​​
Three Artists
These themes are motivations that we found in each of the tattoo artists that we interviewed for being a tattoo artist. 
0 1
Creative Expression
Each tattoo artists had a drive to be creative. They liked being able to express themselves creatively and was one of the main things they enjoyed about their job. Additionally, they all had an artistic background.  
0 2
Telling a Story
Tattoos are stories. They are snapshots in time of an individual's life. In this sense, tattoo artists act as  storytellers capturing a moment or feeling in their client's life. 
0 3
Building Relationships
Developing a relationship with the client was highly important. Tattoo artists need to establish trust and a connection with their clients. Depending on the tattoo, they need to cultivate this relationship in either a short or long period of time. 
0 4
The Lifestyle
Being a tattoo artist is more than just a job; it is a lifestyle. There are varying degrees of involvement within the culture itself. However, most tattoo artists are heavily invested in it. 
Initial Phase / Research / Synthesis / Insights
C o n c l u s i o n​​​​​​​
What we have learned
A tattoo artist’s passion lies within their ability to connect with others, tell stories, and express themselves artistically. 
A tattoo artist's need is to connect with others. They achieve this by developing a relationship with their clients. Due to their permanence, tattoos are an honor and highly personal. We learned that tattoos have the ability to change people's lives and gives them the power to tell part of their story. A tattoo artist's ability as an artist transcends into storytelling through this connection that they have with their clients, making them apart of their lives forever. 
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