As most tattoos in the U.S. were done by Polynesian and Japanese amateurs, tattoo artists were in great demand in port cities all over the world, especially by European and American sailors. The first recorded professional tattoo artist in the United States was a German immigrant, Martin Hildebrandt. He opened a shop in New York City in 1846 and quickly became popular during the American Civil War among soldiers and sailors of both Union and Confederate militaries.
"You can never go wrong with black and greyscale tattoos," Villani says. "Black ink lasts better than any color ever will [...] Bright and vibrant colors look great at first, but tend to fade the quickest. This is often why watercolor tattoos are frowned upon. They tend to not always last the test of time." So, if you and your artist are brainstorming a design, remember to consider color as part of the equation.
Hamlet suggests bringing no more than three ideas to the meeting. Don't show up with a patchwork vision of "I want black and white, but maybe some color, and I love flowers, but really hope to have more of an industrial theme, and I don't want any sharp lines but do hope to feature some right angles." This also doesn't mean bringing three photos of other people's tattoos that you love (see #1 above).
The word tattoo, or tattow in the 18th century, is a loanword from the Samoan word tatau, meaning "to strike". The Oxford English Dictionary gives the etymology of tattoo as "In 18th c. tattaow, tattow. From Polynesian (Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, etc.) tatau. In Marquesan, tatu." Before the importation of the Polynesian word, the practice of tattooing had been described in the West as painting, scarring or staining.