Getting a new tattoo is a lifelong commitment that deserves a good deal of thought and consideration before you make your final decision. Whether this will be your first piece of art or your fiftieth, each will require a certain element of planning, funding and most importantly aftercare.
Despite there being an abundance of information available online, it can be very difficult for those new to tattoos to figure out what is going to be the best option for them when it comes to their chosen body art. This can become increasingly confusing when faced with ''Tattoo Elitists'' who believe their way is the only right way to go through the tattoo process. This guide is aimed towards those of you who are planning or have recently gotten your first tattoo and I hope it can end some of your worries and answer any questions you may be pondering.
Deciding What You Really Want
So, you know you want a tattoo but you still can't decide what to get? Perhaps you are stuck for inspiration and are in need of some fresh content to get your imagination flowing? Or, maybe you just have so many ideas and you don't know what to get first? Either way, your tattoo block can come to an end by following these very easy steps.
A lot of people say that tattoos should mean something personal, so take a look at your own life and think about what is most important to you. What interests do you have? Have you had any life changing moments or a loved one you want to commemorate in the form of some beautiful body art?
This way at least you know it is very unlikely you will ever regret your decision. That's not to say that to get a tattoo, you must have a deep and meaningful reason behind it. It is just much easier for you to be sure that the design you finally select is the one you will be happy with forever.
If you are still stuck for ideas and are finding trolling the internet for hours on end is growing more frustrating after every minute then you may want to try collecting together all of the photos you find eye-catching and open up your own contest on createmytattoo.com. This site allows the client the ability to choose a custom tattoo design based on their likes and interests by opening a paid contest for artists from all over the world to submit their work. You can even provide feedback to the designers letting them know if you wish for them to edit their designs.
Hopefully by now you will have a good idea about what it is you are looking to get done. So how do you know if it is definitely what you want? The answer? You don't -not really. None of us can be sure what the future holds and of course it is possible that we can regret the decisions we make but there are some things you can do to hopefully prevent that from happening.
Once you have your design, don't rush into getting the permanent thing right away. Make sure to have the design somewhere you can see it everyday, whether that be beside your bed, as your screen-saver on your phone or even drawn onto your skin either by sharpie or henna. If you start to get sick of it after a month then maybe that design is not the one for you but if you are still in love then it's time to move onto the next stage.
''Cheap Tattoos Aren't Good and Good Tattoos Aren't Cheap''
For many people getting a tattoo solely comes down to cost and by that I mean, they are looking for the cheapest possible artist. Let me tell you why this is a bad idea.
Getting the tattoo you really want and love is much more important than changing the size, detailing and quality of the artwork just to save a few pounds. In the long run you will most likely end up getting your cheap tattoo covered up as it wasn't what you wanted in the first place.
The cheapest tattoos are often completed within a home environment by a ''friend of a friend''. You don't know this person, the standard of their work or how clean their equipment is until its too late. Is your health really worth putting on the line rather than spending the extra money on professionalism? I don't think so and neither should you.
Finding An Artist
For me finding the right Tattoo Artist is just as important as the care you put into looking after your tattoo for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, not everyone shares that opinion and we have all seen some horror stories online or in our personal lives from those who opt for the cheaper alternatives.
Finding an artist these days is much easier in my opinion with most Tattooists displaying their portfolios online using social media platforms. This gives us as clients the ability to shop around from the comfort of of our own homes and not have to put in a whole lot of effort. It is also very easy to read the reviews of previous clients to get an insight into the standards maintained within the parlor and the attitude of the artist themselves.
When selecting an artist, your chosen style is very important. It's not going to work out too well if you choose an artist who specialises in dotwork but you yourself want realism. Of course many artists are able to do a variety of styles, but you are looking to have the best piece of work possible.
If you think you have found the right artist then start by making contact and asking when it would be best for you to pop into the studio for you to discuss things further. Do not be afraid to ask your artist any questions, you will find that the vast majority are more than happy to clear up any worries or concerns you may have.
When visiting the studio pay close attention to the atmosphere, do you feel comfortable enough to sit for a considerable period of time while your artist works on you and does the studio itself maintain a high standard of cleanliness? If you think the answer is ''yes'' then work with your artist to select a date that suits you to begin working on your new tattoo.
Your date is now set and you are counting down the days eagerly awaiting your tattoo session. It is an exciting and nerve-wracking time especially for those who don't know what to expect.
It is important to prepare for your tattoo and this is something that everyone does a little differently. All artists will recommend though that you have a substantial meal before hand to ensure you don't pass out during your session.
So what other things can you do to prepare?
- Showering beforehand to ensure you are clean and comfortable for the day ahead. This may help calm any nerves you may be feeling prior to your session.
- Dress comfortably and make sure the area you want to get tattooed is easy to access.
- Be aware that tattoos hurt and for some people they hurt more than others. If you have a low tolerance to pain you can discuss this with your artist and see if they allow tattoo numbing gels to be used in their studio.
- While its okay to take someone along for moral support, your artist is not going to appreciate a whole group of your friends tagging along and getting in the way.
- Remember that getting tattooed can be a time consuming process and if you are easily bored you may wish to take along a book or iPod to pass the time.
- Avoid alcohol the night before as this will thin your blood.
- Try to get a good sleep the night before, this can be hard if you are feeling excited or nervous but it is important that you feel at your best for your session to go well.
Remember if you need to cancel for any reason you must let your artist know in advance so that you can rearrange or they can get your space filled in.
There is a lot of controversy on whether or not you should tip your tattoo artist. Some believe that they are paying enough already for the tattoo and therefore shouldn't have to spend more on a tip. However as an artist they are giving someone their time, energy and dedication especially when they are creating custom designs for their clients.
In the end a lot of the cost you pay for your tattoo goes back into the running of the studio, so giving extra as a tip shows them your appreciation. The tip itself doesn't have to be over the top and if you can't afford the extra cash then getting in coffees or donuts goes a long way for showing how grateful you are.
Aftercare begins the moment you leave the studio and ends -without sounding morbid- when you die. So for your tattoo to look the best it possibly can for the rest of your life, it's vital that you follow the instructions your artist gives you to prevent infection or colour fading.
Most artists will already have a cream that they recommend you use but if not then don't worry as there are many available that can be found easily online or at your local store. My personal go to is Palmer's Cocoa Butter as it is deeply hydrating, absorbs quickly and is also cruelty-free.
Here is a small break down of aftercare essentials;
- Keep the area clean.
- Wear loose and comfortable clothing.
- Don't scratch your tattoo or pick off the scabs.
- Don't have a bath go swimming for at least 2-3 weeks. Showers are fine.
- Always keep covered when in the sun until you can use high factor sun lotion.
- Always moisturise to keep your tattoo vibrant.
I hope this article has provided you with some answers and you are now feeling more confident about getting your new tattoo. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below or tell me about your first tattoo experience.
Katy Preen from Manchester, UK on April 23, 2017:
This is a great article, but I think you may have a typo in the title. I like the idea of buying donuts for your tattoo artist (I just found a way to make even more connections in the inked world, haha).
Proper moisturising for the lifetime of the tattoo is very important, and I'm glad that you mentioned that. If I go a while without moisturising, my tattoos look dull - but a bit of pampering gently removes dead skin cells and livens that tattoo right up! It's also a good incentive for me to always wear high factor sunscreen. Pre-tattoo, I'd take my chances too often and get burnt to a crisp, but now I have even more reasons to care for the health of my skin.