Tattoos are becoming more and more normalized in today’s society, with the social stigmas of the early-mid 20th century fading into history. It’s becoming more and more common to meet people with one or more tattoos. I, myself have seven now. So you’ve decided to take the plunge and get inked-what now? Never fear-I’m bringing you all the tips and tricks I’ve learned through my experiences.
This might seem over-obvious, but pick a design before you go. Or at least have a general idea. And really think about it, carefully. Will you want it in 5, 10, 20 years? Do you want it in plain view, or would you like to be able to cover it up? I think it’s a good thing, especially if it’s your first tattoo, to consider the design and placement for at least a few months. And for Pete’s sake, if you’re getting something in a foreign language, make sure you check the validity of the translation with a native speaker-not Google Translate.
Do Your Research
I strongly advise against just walking into any tattoo shop. Look up different shops-or better yet, artists in your area. Each artists has their strengths and styles, and it’s best to go with someone that matches the style you’re going for. For example, if you’re going for a delicate, floral tattoo, find an artist who does that often and well. Of course, most tattoo artists can do any tattoo, but I think it’s better to find someone who is really good at that particular style. Read reviews on the shop. Is it clean? Are their prices fair? Are customers generally happy with the work they’ve had done? Do you like the work you’ve seen from them? These are all really important things to consider when searching for a place to get your ink done.
Don’t Drink or Take Pain Meds Beforehand
This one is a biggie. I’ve heard of so many people getting smashed and the finding the nearest tattoo shop and getting inked. While it might take the edge off of the pain, it can cause bigger problems. For starters, alcohol inhibits your rational thinking, which could result in a tattoo you regret. It also thins your blood, which can make you bleed more during the session. Pain meds, even aspirin, will do the same thing. It’s not going to be fun for you or the artist to have to wipe down the area every five seconds because you’re bleeding all over the place.
Eat Something and Stay Hydrated
Definitely eat and drink plenty of water before you head in. The combination of nerves with an empty stomach is a recipe for passing out in the chair, which is awkward at best. Avoid spicy foods, foods that make you gassy or foods that result in multiple trips to the loo. Bring a small snack with you, especially if your design will take multiple hours. That way, if you feel lightheaded, you can refuel.
Expect Some Pain
It’s no secret that tattoos hurt, and anyone who says they don’t is a liar. It’s a needle, for God’s sake. That being said, certain areas hurt more than others. In my experience, anything going directly over a bone with little fat/muscle in between is more painful than areas with some cushion. For example, the tattoos on my ribs and neck hurt way worse than say, the one on my calf. I’ve also heard that tattoos over thin skin, like the inside of your elbow or knee are pretty sensitive too.
Take a Break If You Need To
With all that said about the pain, if it gets too intense or you reach your breaking point, ask the artist for a breather. Most artists will check in on you every so often, so be honest with them about your pain level. It’s not a contest and nobody is going to care if you have to take a time out. This applies if you just need to stretch or grab some water or go to the bathroom. The more uncomfortable you are, the worse it’s going to hurt because you’ll be so focused on the discomfort. ProTip: I find it really helpful to distract myself while getting a tattoo. Whether that means bringing an iPad with a movie, a book, or a friend to talk to, it really takes your mind off the needle digging into your skin.
Tip Your Artist
I would think this is common knowledge, but here we are. Anywhere between 15-20% is fair, but I personally think 20% should be the minimum. Tip more if you think they are worth it! I like to bring cash or use Venmo if they utilize it, that way they have it in hand. It is unconscionably rude not to tip, I can’t stress this enough.
Follow the Aftercare Instructions
If you don’t believe me, Google ‘infected tattoos’ and see how gross that is for yourself. The artist or shop will most likely give you written or verbal instructions on how to care for your tattoo at home. It’s annoying a bit time consuming, but hey, it’s there forever, so you want it to look good, right? The basics are- keep it moisturized, let it breathe, no sun, no submersion in water, no scratching (you will be tempted). They aren’t just blowing smoke, they want their work to last just as much as you do.
There you have it friends! Do you have tattoos? Tell me your best tips and tricks in the comments. Not inked yet? Leave me your questions below!
As always, thanks for reading & stay golden!