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A First-Timer’s Guide in Choosing a Tattoo Design

Updated on September 11, 2011

Having a permanent tattoo is not a joke. It is a serious commitment, requiring some serious thought and consideration.

Lots of people have gotten tattoos only to find out later that they regret getting one or they regret the designs they chose. Or they regret where they put the tattoo. For some people, they are hesitant to get one because either they don’t like the pain or they don’t want to regret going through the process later on.

This is a hub about what a first timer should consider when choosing a tattoo design. There are ten things that one should consider and these are found in this hub. Additional things may be considered depending on the personal circumstances of the one getting a tattoo.

This hub this serves a dual purpose for me. One, this is a hub for the Hubmob of the week. And two, I am a person who has always been fascinated with the idea of getting a tattoo and if I ever get around to getting one, this is a sort of checklist for me on what I’ll do when I choose a tattoo design.

First one, decide why you’re getting one. Are you getting one because it is ‘cool’ and everybody you know has one? Or do you just want to express your individuality? Or do you just want to p*ss off somebody (in short, you want to rebel)? Whatever your reasons are, make sure that they will stand the test of time, that is, they are not temporary ones. If they’re just temporary, get a henna tattoo first (see number nine).

Second, decide what you really want. Don’t choose a design just because it is the fad nowadays. Going with trends will just set you up for regret later on because trends fade, your tattoo will not. Do not also go with the first design you will see on the wall of your tattoo artist. Just like a trendy tattoo design, you might get a design other people already have and that you did not really want in the first place.

Third, find a tattoo artist you’re comfortable with. Having a tattoo will make you go up close and personal with your tattoo artist (especially if your tattoo will be on an errrr sensitive spot). So make sure you are at ease and comfortable with your tattoo artist. If you are not comfortable with the tattoo artist, chances are you may end up backing out of getting a tattoo even before you choose the design!

Fourth, look for the design that’s for you. This means poring over your tattoo artist’s book to really find the design that you want. Or going over the internet for hours (there are already lots of designs in here). Or, if your really can’t find one that you like, talk to your artist, tell him what you want and have him design one specifically for you. You may be spending more for this but at least you know that your design is unique and is made especially for you.

Fifth, avoid using names (as much as possible).  I’ve heard of some artists (international and local) who were so deeply in love that they had the name of their loved one tattooed on their body (Johnny Depp anyone?). Later on, when they broke up and the love was lost, they go through all the trouble deleting (I mean erasing) the name. As this process can be quite expensive, they end up re-designing the tattoo to cover up the name.

Sixth, know the meaning of the design that you want. If there are words in the tattoo (of a language you don’t understand), check first their meaning. Or if you choose a design that is culturally inspired, make sure you know what exactly the design means and how that culture views this design. You don’t really want to put a tattoo on your body that will offend some people or worst, people from the same culture, do you?

Seventh, consider where you will place your tattoo. Some would advise not putting the tattoo in a body part that is often seen by people (I don’t know why, maybe to avoid getting a lot of questions?). Others would want the tattoo somewhere where it can be mysterious and sexy at the same time. Choosing your body part that will hold the tattoo is as important as the design itself. Even if you have the right design, if it’s the wrong body part, you will still end up regretting your decision to get that tattoo.

Eighth, visualize it. You know what you want (and where you want it) but will it look good on you? You want a sort of silhouette tattoo (white design, black background) but you have dark skin – will this make your tattoo stand out? You want it in your arms but the design is too big for it. Have a vision in mind of you wearing your tattoo and see if the vision is as equally appealing as you want it to be.

Ninth, test it first. If you really want to be 100% sure that this is the design for you, why not test it first? Get a henna tattoo first of the same design and see how having a tattoo feels on your skin and if it really looks good on you. Plus you’ll get used to having one around as henna tattoos last for a week up to a month.

Tenth, think it over. This is supposed to be the first step but hey, even if you’ve chosen the design and the artist, you can still back out. So think things through. Don’t rush towards your decision to get a tattoo. If you're already convinced of getting one, don't rush into choosing your tattoo design. Think things over, not once, not twice, but a hundred, no even a thousand times. Getting a tattoo is a lifetime commitment (unless you have the money to get one, get rid of it, get another one then get rid of it again). And if you’re in it for the long haul, surely you want to take your sweet time thinking about it?

Okay, these are the tips on how to choose a tattoo design. Do you have a tattoo? How did you choose the design? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below. Cheers and ciao!


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