How to Get a Tattoo That You Won't Regret
You know you want one, but are you ready?
It's all you have thought about. You have talked about it for years, and you really want to get that tattoo. You have told yourself that you will get one someday. Perhaps you've visited the tattoo shop up the street and considered getting something but have never had the money or been sure what you wanted.
Before you just drop $100 or more on a very permanent piece of artwork, stop and think a little. If you change your mind, it won't wash off. You can't go back into the tattoo shop and say, "Sorry, I don't want it anymore. Can you take it off?" There is a no return policy on tattoos!
Tattoos are painful, but the removal process is way worse, so make sure that you think about this for a little while first. There are a few things you want to do and a few things you want to avoid when you're actually consider getting a tattoo.
The Dos and Don'ts of Tattoos
So, you are really committed to getting some ink done? Good for you! I have two tattoos, and I love them both! But if you want to end up with a tattoo you'll love for years to come, there are things you need to do before getting inked.
Do your research.
You need to find a reputable shop that does quality work. The shop up the street may be close, but if you walk in and it looks like a before picture for a Terminex ad, you might want to look somewhere else. Talk to people you know who have already had ink done. Ask them about their experiences, both good and bad. People who have several tattoos usually have a person they go to specifically, and there's usually a good reason why. Check out websites for artists. A lot of tattoo artists have pages on popular social networking sites where you can check out their work, ask questions, get feedback from clients, and get a feel for what style they specialize in.
Do think about what you want.
Think about it long and hard, and then think about it some more. You want a tattoo that you are still going to like in 10, 20, or 40 years. Find something you know you won't grow to hate a few years down the road. Find pictures online or in books at the tattoo shops to get an idea of what you want. If you like the coloring in one but the style is a little off or the lettering is not in a font you like, make a note of that. A good artist will work with you, and if you give them a good idea of what you are looking for, they can generally draw something up for you and work with you on the finer details.
Do listen to the artist.
If they are skilled, experienced, and honest, they will be able to give you insight and advice. They may suggest changes in details and sizing, and they may let you know if your proposed location will be particularly painful. They know a lot about what they are doing. They will be able to tell you if that art you want on your forearm is too big for the space and suggest sizing it down.
I had a drawing of what I wanted for my last tattoo, and the person who did it took that drawing and made it so much better. He listened to my ideas and made it greater than I ever could have imagined. Trust your tattoo artist, but trust your gut as well. If you don't like something, be honest and say something.
Don't get a significant other's name tattooed on your body.
There is no guarantee that you are going to be with that person forever, and it makes it a little hard to explain down the road. It is just not a good idea, and some tattoo artists won't even do it. Family members are another story. If you want to get your daughter's name or a portrait of your father tattooed on your body, that's fine. But never get a girlfriend/boyfriend's name. The same thing applies if you are in a band. That band may break up someday, and you will be left with a constant reminder of all of it, both good and bad.
Don't get a tattoo while you are drunk.
Getting a tattoo of Mr. Potato Head may sound like an outstanding idea when you are hammered, but it may not seem so outstanding once the sun comes up and the hangover kicks in. Besides, it is generally a bad idea to get a tattoo while you are drunk for other reasons.
Alcohol thins your blood, which can make the bleeding worse and make you more likely to overheat and faint. Body temperature rises when you are under stress and in response to pain. Alcohol only intensifies the effects. No, alcohol does not raise your body temperature, but it does tend to give you a sense of being warmer and can cause light-headedness. Reputable tattoo artists will refuse to work on you if you are intoxicated.
My TattoosClick thumbnail to view full-size
I figured I would share my experiences to give you an idea of what I dealt with. I only have a few tattoos, but each experience was unique. I have included pictures of my tattoos and some other artwork by my favorite tattoo artist below.
My First Tattoo
My first tattoo was a birthday present to myself. I was visiting my mother for a month. She, my sister, and my stepfather had all gotten ink done at the shop I went to with mixed results. They all liked the end result, but the process is where their experiences differed. My sister had already gotten several tattoos, and she said it was painless and didn't take very long. My mother had gotten one tattoo a few years before, but this was a bit bigger than her previous work, and she said it was a bit more painful. My stepfather had never gotten a tattoo before, and he said that it hurt quite a bit. Everyone responds to pain differently, and no one will experience the same thing.
After my sister passed away, we had all decided to get tattoos in her memory. My sister loved penguins and was a huge fan of the cartoon character, Chilly Willy. I chose to get a Chilly Willy tattoo in her memory. The cost was about average (around $125), and it took about an hour. I got that tattoo on the back of my left shoulder. It hurt a little at first, but then it just felt like someone was giving me a really good back-scratching. It felt really good, actually. I know that may sound strange. The only part that did hurt was the shading he did at the end. That was a little painful. All-in-all, it was a good experience for my first tattoo.
My Second Tattoo
My second tattoo is a very different story. I got this one a few years ago. A friend of mine owns a tattoo shop in New Mexico. He does great work, and he had done some tattoos for other friends of mine in the past. I told him about the tattoo that I wanted to get next, and he said he wanted to do it. It was something that was very special to me, and so he wanted to do it for me.
It is a memorial tattoo for my son who passed away. It is also for my grandfather, who passed away of cancer when I was in high school, and more recently, for my uncle, who passed away of a heart attack. They all shared the same first and last name, so I went with the initials J. B. I hope to add to the tattoo someday, so that everyone who sees it knows the three great people it is in honor of. Of course, that means a trip to New Mexico.
He never got the chance to give me that tattoo while I was living in the Southwest. Then, I decided to go down to Yuma to visit friends, and when he found out I was coming down, he flew down, too. He really wanted to give me that tattoo. He brought all of his equipment with him, so I showed him a few pictures, and he drew up a very beautiful tattoo for me. He adjusted the size for what would look best. I got this one in the middle of my back, between my shoulder blades.
He did the tattoo right in my friend's kitchen. Everything was done very professionally: gloves, new needles, sterilizing everything, the whole nine yards. It was agonizingly painful, though. I made him stop many, many times because my back just wanted to spasm from the pressure and the pain. I cried, I screamed, and I acted like a little girl. A friend gave me a few over-the-counter pain killers and a drink. Yes, it had alcohol in it. I know what I said about not getting a tattoo while you are drunk. I wasn't drunk.
It took almost three hours because I kept making him stop so I could deal with the pain. I would tell him to stop, take a few breaths, and then he would keep going. The end result was more amazing than I ever could have hoped for, and it was worth every bit of pain and screaming. That may sound like a lot of agonizing torture for something I can't even see, but it was worth it. It may not seem that way to everyone.
My Tattoos Overall
I love both of the above-mentioned tattoos. They mean a lot to me. Your tattoos should mean a lot to you, too. After all, they will be with you for a very long time. If you have accomplished something that you are really proud of, and you want to honor that, or you want to honor someone who has made a real difference in your life, a tattoo is a great way to do it. Just make sure you are still going to love it when you are old and wrinkly. It's never fun when your grand-kids come up to you and ask you why you have a leaf tattooed on your arm, and you have to make up a lie to hide the fact that you are a 70-year-old grandmother with a pot leaf tattooed on your body.
Other Tattoos By Chris PartainClick thumbnail to view full-size
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2008 Anna Marie Bowman