Getting your first tattoo is a very bold decision that can lead to a lifetime of regret if you don't get things right. It's understandable to be a little bit intimidated by the idea. We want your first tattoo experience to be one that you remember for all of the right reasons, so we created these 10 tips for getting a tattoo. While most of these are geared toward people getting their first ink, even tattoo veterans can be reminded of a few things they may have forgotten. Adhering to these simple guidelines should make the experience great for both you and the tattooist.
1. Do your research when choosing a tattoo and an artist.
- Don't rush yourself when choosing an idea. You're going to have to live with it forever.
- Most artists have a speciality, think about this when choosing one. If you want a photorealistic tattoo don't choose an artist who specializes in American Traditional, for example.
- Don't ask to have your neck/face/hands tattooed if it's your first tattoo, you will most likely be denied.
- Look into the cost of the tattoo before walking into the shop, don't sacrifice the tattoo you want to get a good deal. Save up to get the right ink.
- Be prepared to be placed on a large wait list for the more popular artists.
2. Prepare properly on the day you get your tattoo.
- Eat a full meal beforehand.
- Many artists recommend drinking orange juice prior to getting inked.
- Don't drink alcohol beforehand.
- Getting tattooed is a pretty intimate experience, don't forget to shower.
3. Bring a good reference photo, like this one used in a tattoo by Paul Acker.
- Bring in a high res photo if possible; at the very least a picture that is big and not blurry.
4. Don't bring your entourage to the shop with you.
- It's fine to bring a friend to hold your hand, any more than one is rude and obnoxious.
- Children are not permitted in most tattoo shops, leave them at home.
5. Trust your artist.
- The artist knows what they are doing, there is no need to be a "backseat driver."
6. Check out the stencil design, body placement, and spelling before the tattoo begins.
- If you see something, say something. You aren't going to hurt anyone's feelings if you tell them that something is spelled incorrectly.
7. Be prepared to go through some pain, tattoos hurt.
- Don't be afraid to tell your artist that you need to take a break if the pain is too much. Nobody wants a passed out client.
- Ribs, feet, hands, head, and the spine all really hurt.
- Check out this chart if you want to get a feel for how much pain you are signing up for.
8. Stay still!
- We know that it might be difficult to do so, but make every effort to remain as calm and still as possible while getting tattooed. If you are jittery the artist won't be able to create straight lines.
9. Tip your artist.
- Most artists don't own their shops and have to pay a percentage of the tattoo price to the shop.
- Tipping anywhere between 10-20% should be fine.
- If you really love the work don't be afraid of tipping extra.
10. Take care of your tattoo once you leave the shop.
- Tattoo aftercare is a crucial step in assuring you have a good tattoo.
- Tattoos will scab and they should heal in 2-3 weeks.
- Avoid sun and going in bodies of water for the first 2 weeks.
- Keep the tattoo moist and clean as it heals.
- Once it's healed don't forget to use SPF 50 sunscreen when going outside, you don't want your tattoo to fade.
Bonus: If you already have a tattoo that you are unhappy with think about getting a coverup like this one by Joe Matisa. Coverups are prettier, easier, and a hell of a lot less painful than tattoo removal.