All About Your First Tattoo: Everything You Need to Know
So, you want to get your first tattoo, huh? I am sure that you are doing your research and getting advice from many different people. I am going to let you in on everything that you really should know before you decide to have your skin tattooed permanently. Keep all this information in mind. I strongly suggest that you continue your research, but this article will give you a really good starting point.
This article covers the following topics:
- How to Choose Your Tattoo Design
- How to Choose a Tattoo Shop
- How to Prepare for Getting a Tattoo
- What You Need to Know About the Tattooing Process
- What Will Happen After You Get a Tattoo
- How to Deal With Other People's Opinions About Your Tattoo
1. How to Choose Your Tattoo Design
This is most likely the first thing that you started thinking about when you decided to get a tattoo. You’ve probably searched through the internet, tattoo magazines, design books, etc. Make sure that the design you choose is something that really speaks to you. You are going to be asked over and over again throughout your life why you had that particular tattoo done and what it means. Make sure that you have a better explanation than, “It just looked cool.”
You are going to have to live with this for the rest of your life. You’ve definitely heard this already, but it is incredibly true and usually overlooked. Make sure that the design and placement of your tattoo is something that you really can live with in every situation in your life. You might have dreams of being an artist, a musician, or any other profession that gladly accepts tattoos. But, what happens if you need to work an office job or a customer service job while you are trying to pay bills until you reach that dream? A giant obnoxious face tattoo may not grant you the type of income that you might be seeking.
Consider a Unique, Custom Design
A great way to get a completely unique tattoo is to talk to your tattoo artist about a custom design. You can collect various ideas from the internet, drawings, etc and present these to your artist. Talk over what you are looking for and they can help in coming up with a perfect piece. Tattoo artists love this kind of work. It allows them to use their artistic talents, and you will find that most tattoo artists are very eager for this type of work.
2. How to Choose a Tattoo Shop
Before you make your appointment, you must research the shop and the artists. Ask around town, look up reviews on the internet, and definitely check the shop out. Your health is at risk if you go to a shop that is not up to par.
Ask the shop questions. Ask lots of questions. Tattoo shops are asked these questions all the time. If you don’t want to get an infection or a crappy design, then make sure you know what you are in for. Ask questions like . . .
- Do they have an autoclave?
- Are they currently licensed?
- How long have they been open?
- What kind of safety procedures do they use?
- What certifications do the artists have?
Do not be amazed by the flash designs on the walls. You'll want to see the portfolios of the artists in the shop. This is where you can determine whether the styles and talents of the artists are a good fit for what you want. A good shop will keep these portfolios on hand. All you have to do is ask to look at them.
3. How to Prepare for Getting a Tattoo
- When you make your appointment, be sure to mention any type of illnesses or diseases that may affect your tattoo, such as diabetes, anemia, HIV, etc. If something were to go wrong or you were to faint, the shop needs to know what could be the cause.
- Eat something before you get your tattoo. This is important. There is always a chance that you will pass out. Eating something will lower this risk. You don’t have to eat a Thanksgiving meal, just be sure to have a little something to hold you over. Bring something small (like candy) with you to keep your blood sugar up during the process.
- Do not drink or take aspirin-based medication within 24 hours of your appointment. These thin your blood out and can cause you to bleed a whole lot more. This creates a mess for the tattoo artist and it can impact the quality of work you receive.
- Wear comfy clothes. You are going to be laying or sitting down this whole time and may have to move or sit in awkward positions to allow the artist to do their thing. You do not want to be restricted by the clothes you are wearing.
4. What You Need to Know About the Tattooing Process
- Your tattoo artist will put on gloves, open their needles and inks in front of you, cleanse your skin, apply your stencil, put a bit of Vaseline on your skin, and begin the tattoo.
- If you are nervous, talk to your artist. Let them know that you are a little nervous about it. A good tattoo artist will talk you through everything and reassure you. A great artist will distract you with other conversation so you are not focusing on what is going on.
- The pain is in your head. Tattoos do hurt, yes. But, they are bearable. Stop thinking about it. Stop focusing on it. You are only going to scare yourself. I have seen little girls who do not have a very good pain tolerance make it through large tattoos without a tear shed. If they can do that, so can you.
- Tip your artist! This is not a must, but it is incredibly appreciated. If you plan on coming back for future tattoos, leave a tip. They will remember it.
How would you rate your first tattoo experience?
5. What Will Happen After You Get a Tattoo
- You will receive aftercare instructions from the artist. Follow it. The last thing you want to do is develop an infection.
- Leave the bandage on for at least two hours. This is there for a reason. Your tattoo is a wound. This bandage is to help prevent airborne bacteria from entering your wound. If your tattoo artist used saran wrap or any kind of plastic, this is different. Take it off when you get home. It will help protect the tattoo, but it will suffocate your skin if you leave it on for too long.
- Washing the tattoo is important. You need to use lukewarm water and mild, liquid antibacterial or antimicrobial soap. Do not submerge the tattoo in water. This means, avoid baths for a little while. Do not rub your tattoo dry, instead gently pat it until it is dry.
- DO NOT use Neosporin or any other ointment that is meant for cuts and scrapes. This will cause your tattoo to fade and possibly lose color in certain areas completely.
- Lotion is important. Scabbing will happen, but keeping the area moist will make these less dangerous for the tattoo. You want to use a lotion that does not have fragrance or color added to it. You are best off buying an actual tattoo ointment for this purpose.
- Do not pick your scabs. Leave it alone. If it feels dry, apply lotion.
- Sun protection will be important for the rest of your life. Avoid sun exposure while it is healing. After it heals, you must apply a sun block any time you are going to have direct sun exposure. UV rays will fade and discolor a tattoo.
If you are noticing anything strange or are unsure about anything, call the tattoo shop. They want to make sure that you have a great tattoo and they will answer your questions.
6. How to Deal With Other People's Opinions About Your Tattoo
Be prepared for the questions. People will ask you all kinds of strange questions and they are not usually shy about it. I have gotten stopped on the streets by complete strangers who are just curious about my ink.
There are people that still do not approve of tattoos and they will let you know. These people are sometimes very hard to deal with. They can be rude, but sometimes they just don’t understand.
Enjoy Your Ink!
Overall, you need to enjoy your first tattoo! It is a wonderful experience. I strongly suggest that you use this article as a starting point and continue your research. Best of luck with your new tattoo!
How old were you when you got your first 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.