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How To Get A Tattoo That You Won't Regret

Updated on March 15, 2016
Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna is a writer who wears many other hats, and has a wealth of experience that she draws from, sometimes funny, sometimes serious.


Joined: 8 years agoFollowers: 1,078Articles: 113

You Know You Really Want One

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 some day. You have visited that tattoo shop up the street, and considered it, but never had the money, or weren't sure what you wanted. Before you just drop around $100+ dollars 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 in to the tattoo shop and say, "Sorry, I don't want it anymore. Can you take it off?" There is kind of a no return policy on tattoos.

Tattoos are painful, but the removal process is way worse. 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 actually consider getting a tattoo.

A tattoo artist with his tattoo gun
A tattoo artist with his tattoo gun
Ouch!  That looks like it would hurt!
Ouch! That looks like it would hurt!

The Do's & Don't's of Tattoos

So, you are really committed to getting some ink done? Good for you!! I have two tattoos and I love them both! There are things you need to do first, though.

  • Do your research. You need to find a reputable shop, that does quality work. That 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, good or 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 the style you want, 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.
  • Don't EVER 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. You want to get your daughter's name tattooed on your body, or a portrait of your father, that's fine. NEVER get a girlfriend/boyfriend's name tattooed on your body! The same thing applies if you are in a band. That band may break up someday, and you are left with a constant reminder of all of it, 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, making the bleeding worse, and making you more likely to overheat and faint. Body temperature rises when you are under stress and in response to pain. Alcohol only intensifies the affects. 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. Many reputable tattoo artists will refuse to work on you if you are intoxicated.
  • 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, sizing concerns, and pain factors. 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 will 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, took my drawing 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.

Tattoos You May Regret Getting

My Tattoos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Adorable Chilly Willy, artwork by Redwood, of Wild Side Tattoo, Richmond, ILIn ProgressStill not doneDone, but bleeding and very soreLatest Tattoo, artwork by Chris Partain of Star Tattoo, Albuquerque, NM
The Adorable Chilly Willy, artwork by Redwood, of Wild Side Tattoo, Richmond, IL
The Adorable Chilly Willy, artwork by Redwood, of Wild Side Tattoo, Richmond, IL
In Progress
In Progress
Still not done
Still not done
Done, but bleeding and very sore
Done, but bleeding and very sore
Latest Tattoo, artwork by Chris Partain of Star Tattoo, Albuquerque, NM
Latest Tattoo, artwork by Chris Partain of Star Tattoo, Albuquerque, NM

My Experiences

I figured I would share my experiences to give you an idea of what I dealt with. I only have two tattoos, but each was a far different experience. I have included pictures of my two tattoos, plus some other artwork by my favorite tattoo artist.

My first tattoo was a birthday present to myself. I was visiting my mother for a month. My mother, my sister and my step-father 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 said it was a bit more painful. My step-father 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 my back, on 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 is a much, much 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 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 and 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 that 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.

I love both of my 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 that fact that you are a seventy year-old grandmother with a pot leaf tattooed on your body.

Other Tattoos By Chris Partain

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Click thumbnail to view full-size
part of my newest tattooSuch a large piece that it was hard to capture in just one pictureblurry, but I got most of it in this picture
part of my newest tattoo
part of my newest tattoo
Such a large piece that it was hard to capture in just one picture
Such a large piece that it was hard to capture in just one picture
blurry, but I got most of it in this picture
blurry, but I got most of it in this picture

© 2008 Anna Marie Bowman

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    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida

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

    • tattoodesigns69 profile image

      tattoodesigns69 6 years ago from Illinois

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

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

      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 profile image

      Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

      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!

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      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 profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

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

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 7 years ago

      Great hub very interesting topic

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

      freeloader80-- Thank you! It is pretty interesting.

    • freeloader80 7 years ago

      great youtube video.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

      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 profile image

      trooper22 7 years ago from Chicago

      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 profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

      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 profile image

      jdmanuk 7 years ago from UK

      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 profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

      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 7 years ago

      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 profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

      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.

    • relawshe profile image

      Rachel L 7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      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: http://hubpages.com/hub/Surviving-a-Body-Piercing.

      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 profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

      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 profile image

      blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

      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 profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

      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 profile image

      blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

      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 profile image

      blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

      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 profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 8 years ago from Florida

      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 profile image

      gwendymom 8 years ago from Oklahoma

      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 8 years ago

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

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 8 years ago from Florida

      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 8 years ago

      *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 profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 8 years ago from Florida

      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 8 years ago

      Good advice, Anna Marie!

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 8 years ago from Florida

      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 profile image

      hot dorkage 8 years ago from Oregon, USA

      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.

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 8 years ago from Australia

      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 profile image
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      Anna Marie Bowman 8 years ago from Florida

      Thank you and you're welcome, Ryan!

    • Ryan Hupfer profile image

      Ryan Hupfer 8 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      p.s I love the pics!

    • Ryan Hupfer profile image

      Ryan Hupfer 8 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Thanks for the great Request answer!

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      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.

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