Getting a tattoo is a big decision, and not one to be made lightly. If you have never been tattooed before, it can be a daunting process to begin. There are a few things to know or to keep in mind when you start thinking about getting your first tattoo, which will make the experience less stressful and will help you to get a tattoo that you will love forever!
Flower Sleeve by Natan
In the Beginning…
The first thing to do when you have decided it is time to get tattooed, is to figure out what you want. You may know exactly what you want to have permanently etched on your skin, you might have a vague idea (or ideas), or you may have no clue what you want. If you know exactly what you want or if you have a vague idea, you need to start looking at what artist will be able to execute your tattoo in the style that you are looking for. If you have no idea what you want tattooed, now is the time to figure it out.
Think about what is important to you; what types of art do you like? Have you seen any tattoos that have made you swoon? Do you want to do a tribute or memorial for a family member and if so, what do you associate with them? Do you want to mark your religious or spiritual beliefs on your skin? Your cultural history? These are some of the questions to ask yourself to get you started. You are going to have to look at your tattoos the rest of your life, be sure that you have ink you want to be looking at!!
Now that you’ve figured out what you want, now is the time to pick the artist. Do you have a particular style of tattoo that you are interested in? Realism? Traditional? Illustrative? Black and Gray? Color? Start looking at artists’ portfolios; do you see similar styles of work to what you want? If you want a tattoo that is mostly line-work, are their lines clean and precise? If you are looking for color work, is their color solid and bright? Do they specialize in the style of tattoo that you want? While you might not see similar pieces in their portfolios, see if the qualities of the tattoos are ones that you are drawn to or match the types of tattoos that you prefer.
Alice in Wonderland Tattoo by Jaesun Duggan
Once you have determined what artist you want to work with, set up a consultation appointment with them. To prepare for you consult, do your research!! Look in books, magazine and online for art and images that you like. You don’t need to look at other tattoos to get ideas, look at all kinds of styles of art to find images that you can share with your artist to describe what you are looking to have done as a tattoo. Look for images that you like the color palette of, the shape of x or y, the face of this and the body of that; this style of art, but that subject matter…. you get the idea. But the more clear references you have, the easier it will be to tell your artist what you want.
During your consult, they will sit down with you and go over your design ideas, and figure out exactly what will work best for you; bring all your references and make sure to share what you like about each. You will also want to talk to them about placement and size, which you should mostly already have thought about. Try to be open minded during this conversation; while you might think a tattoo will work at a certain size or in a certain place, their experience might be different from your imagination. Some tattoos don’t heal well if they are done too small, some places might be harder to heal than others, and some designs might flow better with the shape of your body in certain locations compared to others. This is one of the most important parts of the process and it is very important to have clear communication with your artist and to let them know what is important to you and what you would be flexible about.
When you have gone over the idea, the artist will be able to give you a general idea of how much time it will take to tattoo and the cost. Now you can book an appointment! When you’re booking think about what your schedule will be like for a few days after getting tattooed. If it is a larger tattoo, you might want to plan it so you have a day or two to recover. Also, you won’t be able to go to the beach, swim in pools or use hot tubs for a few weeks after the tattoo, and you’ll have to be very careful of sun exposure, so if you’re going on vacation somewhere tropical, or have an event planned that would be effected by these kinds of limitations, you might want to hold off until afterwards.
Now that you’ve got your appointment set, you’ll need to prepare yourself to get tattooed and to take care of it while it’s healing. Stay tuned for Part 2 to learn more!!
Traditional Snake Tattoo by Steve Gillespie