I'm sitting here typing to you with 5 tattoos (so far); 3 of which came from the same place. My first experience was at a highly renowned, highly recommended place and it's the only one that I absolutely can't stand. I designed it and still like the tattoo but the work was poorly done.
I then found Electric Lotus Tattoo in Boonton, NJ. This guy also came recommended but now better armed with information and a bit of experience, I knew what to look for.
This guy, Jae, impressed me 100% with his knowledge and attitude and approach to his craft.
Off the bat, he's COVERED in tattoos and he explains that every time he gets one in a new place, he better understands the feeling and sensation and can better perform on others. Partially he's just a guy with tattoos, but also an artist that wants to understand what his customers experience.
2nd, I went in with a design that included a banner with the name of an individual that was part of a memorial tattoo for someone. He asked if I wanted shading and I said no or that I didn't really think about it. He explained that it would give it depth and that purple is a common memorial color. You can't imagine the difference made by some light shading in the corners. I also had black lettering on blue ink in the same piece of work and he made some suggestions with using negative colors (the absence of color in a tattoo) to "punch it up." Again, he was right on the month.
On 2 other occasions that I had him to work on me, he was constantly making suggestions, some impromptu as he saw things, to improve it.
All of my tattoos from him are incredible work at great prices and I will never go anywhere else as long as Jae is in business.
What impressed me most was how he saw things from an artist's perspective and he's not just some guy that's good with a tattoo gun. I trust him with his suggestions. I give him my design and let him make the necessary artistic changes to make it look proper on the "canvas" and then he goes to work.
I couldn't have had a better experience in getting at tattoo.