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Things to Consider Getting a First Tattoo

Updated on May 17, 2010

There's plenty to think about when getting a first tattoo.  "Where should it go?" "What should I get?" "How much can I afford to spend?" "Where should I go?," and countless other questions.  Remember it's all up to you, and don't let anyone else make a decision like this for you.  Tattoos are permanent (well, for the most part) and while everyone knows that this is obvious, almost no one puts enough of their attention into this fact.  There are things to know however that can help you in making some of these decisions.

Tattoos are really not that big of a deal, and if you are looking for answers to questions about getting a tattoo then I think it's a safe bet that you're going to be getting one rather soon.  Also an artist will be your best source for answers.

"Where should I go?" :  I can tell you exactly where NOT to go.  Don't go to 'some guy' you found on some social networking site doing tattoos out of his basement, unless he is very well established.  A lot of people are willing to tattoo anybody, and many times they don't even know what they are doing.  They may want only 20 bucks or a case of beer for a tattoo.  These are people doing tattoos known as scratchers, and you definitely do not want one of them to tattoo you.  The quality is not going to be any good and there is always going to be a much higher chance that you get an infection or worse by getting tattooed by a 'scratcher.'  If you are getting tattooed for the first time PLEASE go to a reputable studio.  Always look at the artists work when you are there.  You don't have to get tattooed right away.  It's always a good idea to look through the artists work, and go home and think about it for a day or so.

"Can I ask questions?" :  Yes, you should definitely ask questions to the artist.  I know that many tattoo artists can seem very intimidating, especially for the first timer, but guess what?  They are (almost) never going to be rude, and they will more than likely be happy to answer any questions you have.  They have tattooed many people over the years and they all know what it's like for a first timer to get a tattoo.  For the most part tattoo artists are peaceful and friendly people.

"Should I bring a friend?" :  Everybody seems to!  Even someone with 10 tattoos will still bring a friend most of the time.  Personally I prefer if it when no one else is in the room. I'm sure most artists do, but all tattoo artists are use to this, and it's not a big deal.  What you don't want to do is bring a convention of support.  Don't bring your sister, two best friends, third cousins, and your auntie to get tattooed.  Please just bring one good friend if you don't want to brave it alone.  Bringing a group of people is rude and it is going to be more distracting for the artist if all these people are constantly babbling and peeking in for a look.  You don't want a distracted artist do you?

"Is it going to hurt?" :  This all depends who you ask.  Everyone has different tolerances for pain.  However certain spots of the body will hurt more than others.  Luckily for the weak there are a whole slew of new topical creams and sprays that help to ease the pain.  Basically it's like numbing the skin.  Many tattoo studios carry these items just in case they really NEED to use them, but other artists will not use them in an circumstance.  If you are worried about the pain you may want to ask the artist about pain relief.  Even though it seems like it is hurting when the tattoo starts just keep with it.  Soon enough you will get somewhat numb of the pain all on your own without any silly creams. 

"Can't I just get drunk beforehand?" :  Absolutely not!  No decent studio will tattoo you at all if they know you've been drinking.  Most even have you sign a waiver stating that you haven't consumed alcohol within 24 hours.  Alcohol thins the blood, and can make tattooing somewhat messier than it needs be.  Also you have to worry about blood loss (although it's not a HUGE deal), and speaking from experience tattooing plenty of drunks (yeah I'm guilty) it does affect your skins ability to accept ink as well as it should meaning that the tattoo can come out spotty or even impossible to finish it in one setting because your skin is rejecting ink.  Neither of these are things you want to happen so DON'T drink beforehand.

"What should i get my tattoo of?" :  I don't think that you should be asking anyones opinion on this question.  Your future tattoo should be a reflection of you or of something that is meaningful to yourself.  Don't get a tattoo for another person, it's going to be covered up years down the road... I've seen plenty to know this.  Also tattoos don't have to have meaning.  I personally love the idea of just tattooing something cause it "looks cool" or its just "weird."  Meaningful tattoos are great, but they don't all have to have meaning.  If you want a Pikachu on your foot then just do it. It doesn't have to mean anything.  On the other hand if you want a memorial portrait of your brother that died in a brutal fire, then that has sentimental value, and it means something to you.  'Different strokes for different folks.'  Don't listen to anyone that tells you your tattoo idea is stupid.  After all they're probably just jealous because they don't have the guts to get the pikachu tattoo.  It doesn't matter what they think!

Finally I'd like to stress :  Always speak with the tattoo artist.  There is no better way to get insight on getting tattooed then right from the source itself.  Look at as many shops as it takes until you feel comfortable, and always look through the artists portfolios (past work) to make sure that they can meet your expectations.  Look for a clean shop, and never think that there is such a thing as a 'dumb question.'  Now... go forth, brave the world and get tattooed!


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    • AutmBlanche profile image

      AutmBlanche 7 years ago

      Thank you so much, I'm glad I could be motivational =). I plan on getting many other tattoo related articles up soon.

    • JustColl profile image

      JustColl 7 years ago from Durban, South Africa

      Excellent article, thank you! Just what I needed to get me motivated for my next piece of art.