How to choose your first tattoo – and a bunch of other cool insights from Branson Hoog, superstar tattoo artist

Tattoos are great! But for the first timer, friggin’ scary, hey?

So, what’s the best thing to do? Well, other than just jump right into it, in this time of Covid-19, there are a lot more considerations than otherwise!

We had a chat with legend of the tatt world, Branson Hoog about what’s up with new tatts, how Covid is fucking it up for everyone and how the industry will bounce back with no dramas after it’s all done.

Tattoos for first timers can be scary. What’s your best pro tip for the uninitiated?

Don’t over think it! I know tattoos are a big decision, but it is truly just collecting art. Choose an artist who you love everything you’ve seen them do, collaborate with them on your ideas, and trust them to bring your vision to life. Stick up for what you like and don’t like, it’s our job to make sure you love it.

Is there much to consider when deciding what you’ll have tattooed?

Everyone is different with how they choose designs. A common miss conception is that all tattoos have to have meaning. It’s completely okay for you to just get art that you think is dope from an artist that you love. So meaning or not, the biggest consideration is the type of art that fits you

Size matters. What’s the biggest tatt you’ve done and where?

Haha! I am working on a realism full body suit right now! We started with his entire back and front, now we are working onto his legs. He has a giant tiger on his stomach, a reaper on his chest, and his back is covered in skulls, roses, a snake, and lightning. The plan is to cover one leg in crazy New York, mafia, cigars, and Tommy guns We will end with the sleeves, neck, hands, and top of his head! He’s crazy.

Blood, personal proximity and pain, coupled with Covid, would make tattooing a tough biz at the moment. What’s best to get around these phobias in people?

It is such a weird time for so many small businesses. I feel like the regulations change each week. Tattooing is already a very sanitary process, so the biggest changes are Covid related. I’ve been strict on the local health regulations and talk to all clients beforehand about the new policy’s and the risks they’re taking on. So far everyone has seemed really confident that we are doing all we can… but if they have phobias they probably aren’t planning on getting new tattoos any time soon!

Images or written word. What’s less lame?

I prefer images! But I’m partial being an artist, images are more fun to design for me. Nothing is lame, it all depends on that individual’s style and what they want to rock on their skin! 

Is it true that coloured tattoos bleed more? What’s the best thing to consider when tattooing certain parts of the body?

All tattoos bleed, but shading is affecting every single pore so it definitely bleeds a little more. Best thing to consider is how ink will heal in certain areas of the body. Ink heals differently in different spots… the skin on your hands is just different, you can get red ink on the pad of your hand but it will most likely fall out. Or lip tattoos! Or the bottom of your feet. It’s great for the picture, but not for the long haul. 

Tell us what your most painful tattoo was and where.

Oh man.. blacking out my elbow was brutal. 7 hours of getting absolutely torn up by a giant needle, vibrating over my elbow bone. It’s funny because my tattooer is this little Canadian chick who is super sweet, just pulverizing the back of my elbow.

Do you have concerns about how the Covid will impact the industry?

I’m not feeling too concerned. It seems like the demand for tattoos hasn’t changed much, the worst I could see happening is requiring us to wear masks forever. That would suck. It could impact tattoo conventions but this industry is pretty flexible.

What projects do you have coming out for the rest of 2020, and where can people follow you and keep updated on everything you’re doing?

My band, NOT A TOY is dropping our first album on Fearless Records! Find us at @NOTATOY on all platforms. My socials are all @bransonhoog or my website bransonhoog.com

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