Tattooist VS. Tattoo Artist
Most people don't know the difference between a tattooist and a tattoo artist. There is a sizable difference in talent and aspect. What most people don't realize is that very few people who tattoo, feel like they get to do art. Yes, it's a cool job to have sometimes. Most of the time it's just as exciting as the job you do every day. There is stress, aggravations, and drama just like your job. This one's just a little more cut throat and extreme. Your reputation and your image is your paycheck. Tattooing isn't a career choice, it's a life style choice.
These people are usually identified by the lack personal art on the walls, and concern for the outcome of the finished product. Please don't misunderstand, just because they paint does not mean their a good artist. A tattooist does the flash or premade art off the walls, and very little else. You see them pulling images of the computer for immediate use. He might alter the image slightly and call it custom, but don't be fooled. These type of guys got in to tattooing for money or popularity. Most of these people couldn't draw half of what they tattoo. Being a tattooist is much like, painting in a coloring book. Sticking generic images on people for money. They keep clientele by offering cheap deals and tattooing anything on any body. Quantity over quality.
A tattoo artist is some one who creates almost every design they do. From simple text to a sleeve, everything is hand drawn. An artist will limit what they are willing to put their name on. These guys don't do it for money. These guys do it for the love of art. Most of these guys are eccentric in one way or another and keep a pretty high standards. You can usually see paintings, drawings, and sometimes several forms of art surrounding them. Tattoo artists strongly believe in Quality over quantity, and would never hurry threw a piece to get to the next person. You will find that many of the greatest tattoo artist of our time, have won trophies for their abilities and don't ever brag about it. Not to say they may not have a huge ego, but that isn't really a defining quality. I guess in the end, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Who's to say that crap you saw on that kid at Wal-Mart wasn't art. Look before you leap, there is no eraser.