So you’ve finally decided to get that first tattoo? Well, good for you! But just to make sure that you’re on the right track and that you’re not signing up for something that you will regret in the near future, take a quick look at this important checklist before getting your first tattoo.
In the tattoo industry, mistakes can be costly (and painful too). Fixing a damaged tattoo is oftentimes more cumbersome than getting a tattoo in the first place. For this reason, it is even more important to make sure that you’re totally committed to the task before paying a visit to the tattoo shop.
These simple tips can make a huge difference in your overall experience of getting your first tattoo.
Think it Through
Many newbies aren’t prepared for the commitment. They head to a tattoo artist without thinking it through. Avoid getting a tattoo when you’re drunk or just because your friends are getting one, or chances are that you will only regret it somewhere down the road.
Make the Commitment
If you’ve thoroughly considered your decision, don’t fall for the trap of overthinking it. Take the time to clearly and objectively decide what kind of tattoo you want and where you want to get it.
Look for a Specialist Tattoo Artist
It is important to choose an artist who matches the styles you want to get. Tattoo artists have different specialties. For instance, one tattoo artist may have advanced skills in Japanese tattoo styles while another may be specialized in smaller tattoos involving fine lines and other minute details.
Instagram is a good resource for finding tattoo artists who are seasoned in the style you’re considering. Browse through their works and shortlist the artists that you like the most. It also helps to read customer reviews of the tattooers you’re considering.
Communicate with the Artist
Finding and shortlisting the right tattoo artists is a good start, but there’s more to the process. Next, you should open a communication channel with the artists and collaborate with them. You can message them directly on the website/social media where you found them. Another option is to email them, so the two of you can keep sending emails back and forth to discuss any other queries you may have.
Get a feel of the tattoo artist and see if they seem excited about the possibility of tattooing you.
Some artists may outrightly reject the opportunity of tattooing you after learning about the styles you’re considering or possibly for some other reasons. It’s good to be upfront about it. The artists you need to stay away from are those who are willing to accept the job but don’t seem too eager to do it.
Tattoo Shops have Artists with Different Specialties
If you’re unable to find a tattoo artist that specializes in your tattoo styles, consider checking out other tattoo shops in your area. Tattoo shops bring together several tattoo artists with different specialties. It is common practice in artists to refer their customers to a fellow artist who specializes in a particular style.
Trust the Artist’s Opinion
First things first, your artist will be glad to get some sort of reference code or visual illustration of the tattoo styles you want.
If you have a vision of what you want, then, by all means, do share it with the artist.
While specificity is advised and encouraged even, it also helps to keep your options open and not be totally inflexible or unwavering about your ideas.
See the point is that you chose the artist. You must have liked them enough or trusted their work enough to get to this point where you are now considering them.
If that’s the case, then it’s also important to trust any opinions they may have pertaining to the job at hand. This point becomes even more valid considering that this is the first time you’re getting a tattoo while the artist has probably been doing this for quite a long time. It’s probably safe to assume that they know more about their trade than you do. So our advice is to trust their expertise and listen to any advice they may have for you.
What you may not know is that even when the professional artists sit down themselves to get new tattoos, they listen to the feedback provided by the artist tattooing them.
Trusting the artist and believing that they know what’s best for you is part of the process of collaborating with the artist.
Know What You Want and Speak Up About It
As you go through the procedure of getting a tattoo and you find that you’re not comfortable at some point or you’re simply unsure if the tattoo work is heading the way you planned, then, by all means, speak up about it. That is the only way the artist will know what you want.
Most artists appreciate the feedback they get from customers during the tattoo work. They can make timely adjustments to the procedure, so if you’re not happy about anything, be sure to speak up!
Some people avoid speaking up probably thinking that it will hurt the artist’s feelings. That’s the wrong approach. Most artists are usually understanding about the customers’ needs and will take whatever measures are required to ensure your satisfaction.
It can also be the case that you communicated your tattoo needs clearly, but the artist misunderstood you. That is also why we encourage you to have visual illustrations of your styles as discussed earlier. But if they still didn’t fully understand you or it’s not coming the way you want it to, then stop them and discuss the issues until you’re both on the same page.
Get Proper Aftercare
Aftercare is just as important as the tattoo work itself, if not more. Some people get really excited and tend to forget that the 2-3 weeks following the procedure require proper care.
Aftercare varies from tattoo to tattoo. Artists also have their own instructions about post-care. Make sure that you adhere to the instructions provided by your tattoo artist.
This will ensure that the tattoo:
doesn’t cause too much pain
doesn’t get infected
doesn’t leave a scar
doesn’t fade away
Don’t Get a Tattoo When You’re Under the Influence of Alcohol
Alcohol can impair your judgment. But people still consume it prior to the procedure thinking it will make the pain go away.
Consuming alcohol before, during or after the procedure is done will cause your blood to thin out. Resultantly, the tattoo may bleed and not heal properly.
To manage the pain, you can take over-the-counter pain-killers. Topical numbing creams are also available to help you manage the pain.