How Do You Choose a Tattoo?
When you first decide that you want to have a tattoo, there will probably be lots of people who will try to talk you out of it, especially family members (unless they are into tattoos themselves of course). The choice of whether or not to still go ahead and have that tattoo ultimately comes down to you though, assuming you are of the required legal age in the area that you reside. Once you are 100% sure that having a tattoo is the right decision for you, the next question will quite possibly be: how do you choose a tattoo?
This tattoo is going to be virtually a permanent 'decoration' on your body. If you make the wrong choice of tattoo, you will spend a great deal more money getting it removed later on. I made the decision many years ago to have my first tattoo, and later on I had two more done. I have never regretted any of them, not least because I chose carefully and didn't make many of the common mistakes people do when choosing their tattoos.
This article aims to suggest some good ways to choose your tattoos and some common mistakes to avoid if you don't want to regret your tattoos very quickly. I was very fortunate that my second two tattoos were done for me by an excellent tattooist called 'Animal' (Keith Fowler), and he was trained by one of the top UK tattoo artists. I had a positive experience and wrote an article about it some time later. Even my family who are somewhat anti-tattoos (especially on women) had to admit he did a great job and that I made some good choices in terms of the subjects of my tats.
Choosing Your Tattoo
First, you need to consider why you want a tattoo. Is it to commemorate a lost loved one, is it a rebellious gesture, or is it simply an artistic statement? There may of course be other reasons too, but whatever the reason, you should consider the following points before getting your tattoo.
- How big do you want your tattoo?
- Where do you want your tattoo?
- Can you imagine having this tattoo when you are a senior citizen?
- Will this tattoo be something you would ultimately be proud to show your children (even if you don't have any yet)?
- Will this tattoo cause you a problem getting employment or in your existing job?
- Will it look better in colour or just black ink (often black ink alone looks far more classy than brightly coloured tattoos do)?
- Are you just going to the nearest tattooist, or are you making the effort to get this tattoo done by a reputable tattooist, (even if it means traveling to get there)?
- Have you really made sure that the image you think you want is based on you having spent many hours looking through options, either online, in magazines or after speaking to tattooists who can design tattoos for you?
- Have you considered getting a professional artist to come up with a tattoo design for you, as they may come up with a unique and amazing design based on your ideas?
- Have you based your chosen tattoo on something you love, are passionate about or you believe in? If you love fantasy creatures like unicorns or dragons, have one of them. If you have lost a much loved child or pet, have their image tattooed on to you as a memorial. And if you are very religious, you might want to have a religious image for your tattoo.
Do you love or hate tattoos?
Mistakes to Avoid
- Don't have tattoos in places where you can't hide them if you need to. (This means necks, faces, hands and wrists are a bad idea.)
- Don't have names of boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands or wives tattooed onto yourself, no matter how much you think you love them right now. In 10 years time, you may be with someone else and hate the guts of the person whose name now adorns your body.
- Avoid 'tacky' tattoos like 'love' and 'hate' across your knuckles. These make you look stupid and are generally ridiculed these days. Likewise having a 'W' tattooed on each buttock so it reads 'WOW' when you bend over may be funny in your 20s, but it'll make you look like a bit of an idiot when you are in your 70s. (Actually, it makes you look a bit of an idiot at any age.)
- Don't attempt to tattoo yourself or let your mates do so. You will most likely regret the results and kick yourself later on.
- Don't decide to have a tattoo (or get one done) whilst under the influence of alcohol.
- Don't have a tattoo done for a bet.
- Avoid tattoos that are designed to shock or to make a political statement. You normally change your lifestyle and opinions as the years go on and will probably end up wanting these removed as a result.
- Don't take painkillers like aspirin before a tattoo, as it thins the blood and the tattooist will probably have to stop working on you due to excessive bleeding. Far better to use an anesthetic cream like lignocaine if you are worried about the pain. (This is what they use it on children who are scared of needles but need blood tests or injections.)
Have you got any tattoos?
Think Before You Ink
Hopefully after reading this you are ready to consider your tattoo properly (especially if it is your first one), and you will make the right choice of design. This decision is an important one, and it warrants taking the time to make certain you choose the tattoo that is right for you.
A 'knee-jerk' choice is a bad idea. I would strongly suggest that once you think you have made your decision, wait at least a week before going ahead with having the tattoo done. That way, if you change your mind, you are not too late. You might even consider having a temporary version of your chosen tattoo done in henna first, and that way you can 'try it out' for a couple of weeks before deciding to go ahead with the permanent version.
I see lots of people with terrible tattoos (or simply ones they regret) who are now trying to get them covered over with new tattoos. Don't leave yourself in this position by rushing into a bad choice of tattoo.
Would you ever get a tattoo?
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.