Is It Rude To Change Tattoo Design?

A tattoo is for life, and sometimes when you are about to add some new ink, you may not be happy with your tattoo artist’s design. But is it rude to change your tattoo design? We look at the etiquette behind getting the design that you want.

It isn’t rude to ask your tattoo artist to change your tattoo design if you don’t like it. However, remember that their time is valuable, and last-minute changes can annoy the artist and, if you request changes, you should compensate them for their time.

It should go without saying that you need to like the design of the tattoo that you’re about to get. After all, it is permanent, and you’re going to have to live your whole life looking at the design. But you do have to draw a line somewhere, and you should maintain good etiquette and respect the tattoo artist’s time. So, let’s unpack this further.

What Is The Correct Etiquette For Changing Tattoo Designs?

Some people may be wary of offending a tattoo artist by asking them to redraw the tattoo design that they created. However, it is your time, money, body, and pain, and it isn’t unreasonable to ask for the tattoo that suits your vision and that you like.

And you’ll find that most tattoo artists will be happy to oblige and make changes to the original design, as long as your request is reasonable. For example, you cannot show up to your appointment five minutes before and simply expect your artist to make time to redo the design and still finish up your tattoo within the timeslot that you’ve booked.

You need to respect a tattoo artist’s time. You shouldn’t be requesting several changes on a single design. One design change is reasonable. Requesting five changes isn’t going to go down well.

You also need to ensure that you’re giving the artist helpful references, and you need to discuss the design with them before your appointment to give them a precise idea of what you’re looking for.

Experienced tattoo artists will probably be able to fix up minor changes in no time, but a complete overhaul of the original design could end up being a major hassle.

With this said, if you are going to request a design change, whatever the change may be, the appropriate etiquette would be to pay the artist a little bit extra as compensation. Suppose the artist cannot incorporate the design changes in time for your appointment. In that case, you should also reschedule instead of getting the artist to move their other appointments back just to accommodate your changes.

Can You Ask For Changes After The Process Has Begun?

While it’s okay to ask for design changes before your tattoo artist has begun working, it creates a headache if you ask for changes once they have already begun the process.

Firstly, a design change could be incredibly difficult if they have already set off in a certain direction and are suddenly asked to make additions or changes. Secondly, they price their tattoos according to hourly rates and the materials used.

Adding to or changing the design requires more time and more materials mean that they have to make the adjustments on the spot, which isn’t always convenient or even possible. If you want to make additions, a better move is to allow the artist to complete the tattoo and set up a new appointment to make any additions or touch-ups.

Is It Better To Trust Your Tattoo Artist’s Original Design?

If you’re getting an experienced tattoo artist to design your tattoo, remember that they have done hundreds, if not thousands, of tattoos throughout their career. Even if you’re covered in ink, there’s no way that you are as knowledgeable about tattoos, where they should be placed, how they will come out, or how they will age as the artist.

So, if you’re getting an artist you know or who has a good reputation for designing tattoos, sometimes it’s a good idea to trust their judgment. That’s not to say that you should just blindly trust the artist and let them dictate what to put on your body.

But, you should consult with them and hear them out about why they opted to incorporate certain design elements or features. It could be because they are trying to create a tattoo that ages well. After all, your tattoo will not look the same in 10 years as it does right after it’s been completed.

Tattoo artists are experienced, know what they’re doing, and could create certain designs by considering various factors you haven’t even considered. Just hear them out and ask why they’ve opted for some features that you may not like – it may help you feel confident that the original design is better than what you originally envisioned.

Why Do Tattoo Artists Not Share Designs Before The Appointment?

One of the frustrating things about getting tattoos is that most tattoo artists will not show you a design before you arrive for your appointment. You may be asking yourself, “why don’t they just send me the design before I show up so that I can give them feedback beforehand?”

The reason that they do this is that clients can steal their work. You could take the design and go to another tattoo parlor where you’ll pay less and get the tattoo done by someone else, which is bad for business.

So, even though you may find it frustrating, there is a good reason for this practice, and it’s just part of the package when it comes to getting tattoos.


So, if you were wondering whether it’s rude to change a tattoo design, the short answer is no. It’s your money and your body, and you’ll have to live your whole life with that design. However, it is important that you don’t cross a line and that you follow some basic rules of etiquette.

The golden rule here is that you need to respect the tattoo artist’s time while making sure that you’re happy with your tattoo.

Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Design and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):


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