Tips For Getting Your First Tattoo
Selecting Tattoo Flash
Tattoo flash artwork is what you will see when you walk into any tattoo shop. It is all of the already drawn images hanging on the walls, in racks, posters, etc. As someone who has many tattoos, I would advise against getting flash, especially if it is your first tattoo. How would you feel knowing that maybe someone else (possibly hundreds if it's a popular piece) is wearing the exact same tattoo as you? Probably not so good. You should want your tattoo to be as original and unique as you are, without thinking too hard about it (I'll get to that in a later section).
Tattoo flash should be used as a mere jumping point. Say you want a panther. There are hundreds upon hundreds of panthers that are on flash sheets. However, that doesn't mean that you will find one that suits your desires exactly. Maybe you want one that's only a panther head, but wearing a bow tie and a top hat. Chances are you won't find that in flash, but you could at least find a panther that you like on the wall, show it to them and then tell them that you want something similar but with the changes/additions you want. Allow them to have some creative control. If you do this, you should end up with a much better tattoo and one that you are happier with. Besides, unless you want to go through super painful laser removal treatments, you're pretty stuck with whatever you decide! So try to make it unique, and try and make it represent what you want. If you pick a panther head that looks angry because you like the style of his face, you might end up having to explain why you're so mad all the time or something like that. In general, people ask the silliest questions about tattoos. Always keep that in mind.
Example of Tattoo Flash
Don't Over Think It!!!
I can't stress this enough. Do not try and squeeze 300 ideas into a tattoo the size of a golf ball. Number one, it can't be done (even if it can be done on paper) and number two, it will look like crap. Tattoo pigment stays moist underneath of your skin and therefore will spread out over time. Don't believe me? Look at anyone with a tattoo 10 years old or more. You'll see exactly what I am talking about. I'm not saying it will look bad, but it will definitely look different than it did when it was first put on you. Small letters are the worst for this, as they eventually end up being just a blob of black pigment, or whatever color you choose.
One important rule to remember is that you can always add on to a tattoo, but you can't ever subtract anything from it! This is another reason for not trying to hard to fit too much into your tattoo. You want it to represent something, but try and do it in a simple, unique way. Again, if you go to a reputable tattoo ARTIST (note: that doesn't mean someone in their basement!!), they will make your vision come to life. And if you're not happy with it, they're usually more than willing to work with you!
Let the Artist Work Their Magic
Go to a Shop!
I can't stress this one enough. We all know someone who has terrible tattoos that their 'boy does in his basement/bedroom/kitchen/other room of house', and they continue to go to them because it's cheap. It's not worth it. Number one, there is a good chance it's not sterile. Do they have non-porous surfaces everywhere or are they propping you up with the same cotton pillow that they propped the last guy up with? Do they have an autoclave so that they can properly clean their tubes to kill Hepatitis C and such (I know this one can be gone around by using disposables, but still, chances are if they are doing this at home, they don't care about your safety)? Do they have a proper container for disposing of their needles or are they just throwing them in the trash or leaving them laying around?
Tattoos are one area where cheaper definitely does not equal better. I'm sure you have all seen the internet memes about it, so I will spare you those. It's permanent, so make sure it's done properly and in a sterile environment. Your health is not worth saving 100 or 200 dollars, is it? You don't go to a basement doctor in an emergency, you go to the ER. Why? It's what they do, it's what they specialize in and they know how to do it properly.
Check the artists' portfolios!
Make sure that you are comfortable with your artist. Talk to them, look at their work. If you don't see things you like, you're not obligated to get tattooed by them! Look at their work online or on social media like Facebook or Instagram if you're intimidated by the thought of going into a tattoo shop to walk out without getting anything done. You're not the first person and you won't be the last. Some artists specialize in different styles. Find one you're comfortable with and best fits what you are looking for.Not every artist can pull off every style. Luckily, you can do a lot of your research from home thanks to the internet. But still, go meet with the artist before you make an appointment. Talk to them, see if they understand what you are going for, and if they don't then there's no obligation. It can't hurt to talk to them and you may end up meeting the perfect artist for you! Don't always settle for the first artist you talk to. Remember, it's all about you!