What to Know Before Getting a Tattoo
1. You Are Making a Lifelong Commitment
No matter how you change, your tattoo will always be there, saying the same things about you that it did when you first got it. Your opinions, philosophies about life, choice of music and style will mostly likely change considerably over time. Try to choose a tattoo design that you are certain will stick with you. Getting a new tattoo is like getting married: You are choosing something that you will spend the rest of your life with, so choose wisely.
When you get your tattoo, do it for yourself. It can be a beautiful, meaningful peace of art that you cherish for the rest of your life, or it can be a terrible mistake that causes you to blush whenever someone points it out. Making the right decisions and planning carefully can help you to avoid the second scenario.
2. You Are Scarring Your Skin
Essentially, a tattoo is a scar with a special kind of ink inserted into it in order to create an artistic effect. It is a wound and will take time and proper care in order to heal. As it is a wound, there is a risk of infection. This risk is small and will be minimized to almost nil if you choose your artist carefully.
3. Know the Artist
Tattoos artists should be trained in blood-borne pathogens and first aid, and they should always use new sterile needles that they take out of plastic packaging in front of you. Before you pick the artist and shop, ask to see the room where the tattooing is done. Make sure the artist wears gloves and obeys all cleanliness and safety standards. If the artist or shop owner refuses to show you the needles or the room where the tattoos are done, move on to the next shop.
4. Know Their Style
Everybody who wants a tattoo has an image in mind. Unless you are bringing in the exact image and you simply want them to copy it onto your body, take the time to research your chosen artist’s style. Ask to look at their portfolio or browse their online gallery. Research their name to make sure that other clients have had good experiences and had quality work done.
5. Your Skin Will Change Over Time, and so Will Your Tattoo
It will age with you. It will fade and will need touch-ups to stay fresh-looking. It will also wrinkle and sag as your skin wrinkles and sags. If you gain or lose weight, it may or may not affect the look of your tattoo, depending on the elasticity of your skin and where on your body the artwork is. Pregnancy, health, sun exposure and lifestyle may all have an effect on the look of your tattoo. It’s not always going to look the way it does when you walk out of the shop.
6. Getting a Tattoo Hurts
Though there is the odd person who enjoys the experience, for the majority of us having a needle pierce your skin over and over again (sometimes for hours) is fairly painful. The longer the session, the more raw your skin will become. It also hurts more over areas with less flesh, such as your feet or ribcage.
Though many people will try to describe the sensation as akin to an insect bite, sting or burn, the fact is that getting a tattoo feels like getting a tattoo. It’s difficult to find a comparable sensation. After the initial experience, the area may begin to burn, then it will itch. For me, the itching is by far the worst part. Whatever you do, DON’T itch your tattoo. Slapping it will relieve some of the discomfort, as will cool water.
7. While Healing, the Tattoo Will Most Likely Flake and/or Peel
This is normal and is not cause for concern. Excess ink may come off onto clothes for the first few hours after the art is done, but your tattoo will probably be covered up for that period anyway by bandages and cellophane.
8. Some People Will Judge You and Your Tattoo
If your tattoo is visible, people may see it and form judgements before they know you. Though this kind of discrimination is not nearly as much of a problem as it once was, it does still occur. Consider this especially when positioning tattoos that others may find offensive, such as controversial symbols like skulls, etc.
9. While Your Tattoo Can Be Removed, It Is Expensive, Painful and Leaves a Scar
In short, it is not recommended.
Getting a new tattoo is not a decision to make in haste or under pressure. It is a personal commitment. If you remember these important points before getting your tattoo, your experience should be a positive one, and hopefully you will have a cherished piece of art on your body for the rest of your life.
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.