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How to Get a Tattoo That You Won't Regret

Tattoos You Won't Regret

Tattoos You Won't Regret

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 considering 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 a design. . . and then do a redesign.

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 Experiences

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.

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


Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on August 31, 2010:

tattoodesigns--Glad you liked it!!! Not sure if I have anything else to say on the subject, but, who knows...

tattoodesigns69 from Illinois on August 31, 2010:

Excellent Hub on "tattoos"! I highly enjoyed the material. Continue to keep it coming!

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on July 01, 2009:

Bard-- Plug away!!! I am happy to promote the talents of some very well liked artists!!

Amanda-- Tattoos aren't for everyone. Glad you found this interesting, though!!

Amanda Severn from UK on June 30, 2009:

Tattoos are not my thing, but I've seen some interesting ones around. They can be beautiful, but they can also look like graffitti if they're not thought out properly. This is an interesting hub, even for non tat fans like me!

Steve Andrews from Lisbon, Portugal on June 30, 2009:

I found your hub because I am a friend of Animal the tattooist whose name gets a plug here! He would be very glad to see his name getting around like this!

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on May 21, 2009:

Lgali-- Thank you so much!! This is one of my favorite hubs!

Lgali on May 21, 2009:

Great hub very interesting topic

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on May 21, 2009:

freeloader80-- Thank you! It is pretty interesting.

freeloader80 on May 21, 2009:

great youtube video.

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on May 03, 2009:

trooper22-- Your grandfather is a wise man!! Keeping your identifying factors to a minimum is great advice, for those inclined to need it. Thanks you so much!!

trooper22 from Chicago on May 03, 2009:

My Grandfather once said; "Never get a tattoo where people can see it, and try not to get rememberable scars. If for some reason you get into trouble people will say, He had this tattoo, or that scar." Getting into trouble is not an issue for me, but having a distingtive mark is. If you are going to get a tattoo, get something that means something to you, and put where only those that you care about will see it.

Great post )

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on April 21, 2009:

jdmanuk-- I have never seen a mr. Potato Head tattoo in person, either. The video is pretty funny. Makes you wonder about some of the people out there.

jdmanuk from UK on April 20, 2009:

Really good advice - too many people rush in and regret it afterwards. I've never seen a mr potato head tattoo in person, but the video proves that people like this exist...

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on April 10, 2009:

e cigarette-- I hope your daughter finds the information useful. My guess is, if she has been planning this long, she has a pretty good idea of what she wants, so hopefully, she will still like it a few years from now!!

e cigarette on April 10, 2009:

Great hub. My daughter has been planning her tattoo for years, just waiting for her 18th birthday. I'm forwarding this hub to her. Thanks!

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on March 26, 2009:

relawshe-- Thank you! I will check that out!! I got my tongue pierced a few years ago, and if I had known how painful it would be, I may never have gotten it.

Rachel L from Seattle, WA on March 26, 2009:

Thanks for the article about getting a tattoo! I have a large flowerly one with a Christian fish on my lower back, and I LOVE it! I really enjoyed this article and it was full of very important advice & tips. I have a similar article about advice for getting a body piercing (i have my belly button & nose pierced) here:

Thanks for the hub! This is a very important, permanent addition to your body that requires lots of thought before you do it. Thanks!

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on March 13, 2009:

Happy and tired!!! I get home, have a little time to eat and play on the computer or catch up on some tv (thank goodness for DVR!!!), and then I head off to bed. Thank you!! I thought about changing it, again, but maybe I will leave it alone for a while!

blondepoet from australia on March 13, 2009:

Wow good on you Anna as long as you are happy that is all that matters.I also love your new display picture a big thumbs up for that one lol.:)

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on March 13, 2009:

BP-- thank you!! I am glad to hear that you like your tattoo! I have been around, not on the computer much! Job is going well! Working at a hospital and maybe starting school!

blondepoet from australia on March 13, 2009:

Omg Gwendymom my wrestling buddy you don't look old enough to have a 18year old.Wow.I have also seen your butt on CW page and it is sitting up like the sweet Statue Of Liberty.No wonder they are lining up lol

blondepoet from australia on March 13, 2009:

I love your tattoos.I have a little rose on my hip it is a little one but I love it. I have wondered where you and missed you.How is the job going?.What are you doing Anna. :)

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on October 10, 2008:

Thank you, Ananta!  I have tried to write fiction, but I get to a certain point, and it goes dry.  I don't know why.  Oh, and thanks for the comment on the avatar, but I think I will change it back now!  LOL

gwendy- Thank you!!  I hope your daughter is very happy with her tattoo, not only today, but twenty years from now, and twenty years after that, and so on.  I didn't start all that small, considering most girls get something very small for their first tattoo, usually a little bigger than a silver dollar. I love both of mine, and am glad I went through with it.

gwendymom from Oklahoma on October 09, 2008:

I am glad you wrote this, I wish I could have shown it to my 18 year old daughter before she got her tattoo. But I believe she is happy with it I just would have liked her to get something smaller to start off with.

Ananta65 on October 09, 2008:

Your writing is also good, Anna Marie. And I think you have a great looking avatar! :)

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on October 09, 2008:

well, I feel a little better. Glad to hear the medication is helping!! You are a great writer, by the way!!! I just had to put that there, so everyone else will know!

Ananta65 on October 09, 2008:

*lol* I'm still planning to have one myself, maybe that's a comforting thought?

Besides, now with the adjusted medication and all I have things under control. Well, most of the time I do ;)

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on October 09, 2008:

Thanks, Ananta, but after having read your short stories, I am a little scared, and wondering if these tattoos are that good of an idea. ;)

Ananta65 on October 09, 2008:

Good advice, Anna Marie!

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on September 29, 2008:

agvulpes- Thanks for the compliments! The pain can be bad depending on where you get a tattoo, but you are by no means a coward for not doing it!! It can hurt, and I know of a few people that have a phobia where needles are concerned.

hot dorkage- To each their own, right? I love the artistry, and I love my tattoos because they are very meaningful. I like skin-colored skin, too, but mine is far too pale.

hot dorkage from Oregon, USA on September 29, 2008:

If I ever got a tattoo, it would be of Tux the penguin, and it would be a little one. But I probably won't.

I like skin to be, well, y'know, SKIN colored. Thanks for sharing.

Peter from Australia on September 18, 2008:

G'day Anne Marie,

Cobber I really love your "Chilly Willy" (sounds kind of funny if you say that out loud).

I've often considered getting a tattoo but being a devout coward, and cringe at the thought of pain said quite emphaticly "NAH".

Good info tho for anyone considering a tat.

Anna Marie Bowman (author) from Florida on September 17, 2008:

Thank you and you're welcome, Ryan!

Ryan Hupfer from San Francisco, CA on September 17, 2008:

p.s I love the pics!

Ryan Hupfer from San Francisco, CA on September 17, 2008:

Thanks for the great Request answer!

Cindy Lawson from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 17, 2008:

Great Stuff, I have three now, and a good tattooist friend of mine does them for me in my home when he and I get together. My first I had done at another place in London, but he has sinced smartened it up for me. Both of my others he did at home, and did them brilliantly. You have inspired me to write my own hub on the tattoos he did for me, as I have never regretted them and love them to this day.