Your First Tattoo: Just Do It!

Updated on March 19, 2020
Thundermama profile image

I have lots of experience taking care of my tattoos—first to heal them and then to keep them looking good.

Ahh the First Time...

Whether it’s good or bad, the first time you do anything is always a memorable experience, and getting your first tattoo is no different. As I’m a pretty inked up lady, I feel qualified to offer some advice to all you newbies out there sitting on the fence about your first tattoo. Consider it a helpful nudge towards inky glory.

The Design

This really is the hardest part for most people, deciding on something to have permanently etched onto your skin is a daunting task. My advice, don’t waste time looking at tattoo books filled with flash you might see on hundreds of other people, you’re an original so think outside of the box. I have the best luck finding my tattoo designs at arts and craft stores. Anything from stamps to stain glass design books can be great springboards for your tattoo masterpiece. I also love looking in vintage magazines for cool designs. Don’t be afraid to put the word out to friends and see what they can come up with for you. Offer a free beer or puppy to the winning design.

The Colour Question

A lot of tattoo collectors go all colour or stick with strictly black and grey. I say it depends on the piece. But know this, all tattoos fade and require upkeep, colour more so than black and grey. If you’re ready to rock the sunscreen and avoid the sun then feel free to turn yourself into a rainbow. But if you’re a sun worshiper and can barely remember to put on pants, let alone sunscreen, stick with black and grey.


Find an Artist

The best way to find a great artist is to walk up to someone with a fabulous tattoo and ask them where they got it done. Other important questions like price, shop details, do they do custom designs are all worth asking. I also like to find out how old the tattoo is that I’m looking at to see how the work holds up.

Shop Hop

So much fun! So you’ve narrowed it down to a few artists and now you get to check out their shops. If you’re an ink nut like me this is heaven. People’s shops say so much about them. Obviously cleanliness and safety are paramount, but then hang out for a bit and check out the vibe of the place. Find out where you will be tattooed—is it a private doors-closed affair or is it wide open? If the artist you are scoping out is cool with it, see if you can watch him/her work.

Lay Your Money Down

Once you’ve made a decision on the artist of your dreams lay your money down and make a date. Deposits vary depending on whether or not you want to have a custom drawing done or you have a set design in mind. Either way, expect to put some coin down when you book.

Dream Team
Dream Team | Source

Tattoo Support Team

Never get tattooed alone. You may need someone to drive you to the hospital if you have a bad reaction, hold your hair back if you blow chunks or talk you out of that sudden urge to get Foghorn Leghorn tattooed on your butt. And you so need photographic evidence of your epic bravery and awesomeness. So find one or two people that you love, or at least owe you a favour, and force them to come. If your artist isn’t cool with your bringing at least one person in with you for moral support then they aren’t the right artist for you.

Your Special Day

I know this sounds corny, but it is a special day so why not go all out? Go out for a nice meal with your tattoo support team and take some fun “before,” pics of your naked arm, back or leg or whatever part you are getting inkified. Word to the wise, don’t have more than one glass of wine or a beer. You’ll bleed a lot more and a lot of places won’t tattoo you if they think you are even remotely impaired.

Do It!

The moment of truth, hopefully you’ve shown up on time and are wearing clothes that let the artist easily access the area you’re getting tattooed. At this point, it wouldn’t hurt to toss back a few ibuprofen to help with the pain and future swelling. Don’t get me wrong, this in no way gets rid of the pain of a tattoo, but it might help a bit. Also, be sure to have a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated and fight nausea. Before the needle goes in be sure to confirm the design and price. If you’re having a word tattooed on you, for the love of Cheebus, have the spelling double and tripled checked. You don’t want to end up as one of those sad people you see photos of online sporting a misspelled tattoo.

It’s Happening

Breathe, and breathe some more. Most people tend to hold their breath when they feel pain which is the worst thing you can possibly do. Just take slow deep breaths and relax or risk passing out like my 6’3 brother during his first tattoo. Don’t be afraid to ask for a break if you need it, but don’t avoid the needle for too long, it is way better to just power through.

It’s Done

You’re masterpiece is finished! You survived and now you are convinced that you’re a rock star for getting that ladybug the size of a dime on your shoulder…and maybe you are, so take care of it! Read the aftercare instructions the tattoo artist gives you and follow them to the letter. Don’t over cream and DO NOT PICK! In about a week your scabby, painful puffed up skin will transform into inky awesomeness and you will finally be a card caring member of the anti-social inked up misfit club. WELCOME!

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.

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Catherine Taylor


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • ariemay profile image


        4 years ago

        I'm 49 and getting my big #1 in June. I've got the "think about it" thing down :D

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        All fine and dandy until the "anti-social inked up misfit club." part. Now I am having 2nd (really 250,002nd) thoughts.

      • Thundermama profile imageAUTHOR

        Catherine Taylor 

        7 years ago from Canada

        LightInDarkness, glad you found this hub helpful. Some people have adverse reactions to the ink, which can cause infection and lead to a hospital visit and some potent I'VE drugs and some possible scaring. It's pretty rate, but if you are prone to infection or diabetic you should chat with your doctor.

      • LightInDarkness profile image


        7 years ago from Smyrna, Tennessee

        You have inspired me to finally get my first tattoo! Can you elaborate on reactions to the ink?

      • tamron profile image


        7 years ago

        Nice Hub!

        I saw a lady with a tattoo that looked like a beautiful butterfly but if you really look at the tattoo it was a naked lady.

        That would be the tattoo that I would get.

        Great Hub vote up and share!

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        Like others here, I never knew that tatoos need maintenance. Something to think about if you think you'll barely get through the pain of the first time. Great hub, voted up, and love the writing style, light and flows like warm honey.

      • Suzie HQ profile image

        Suzanne Ridgeway 

        7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

        Hi Thundermama,

        What a great intro for anyone thinking about getting a tattoo. Iv'e always contemplated will I won't I . . . . . as a creative art lovin gal I think it's up my street and yet . . . . . You have given me great tips and advice so you never know!! Cheers, voted up, interesting and useful . .sharing on!

      • That Grrl profile image

        Laura Brown 

        7 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

        I had an ASCII art dragon (I had made it myself) picked as a tattoo. But the tattoo artist said it wouldn't work well in the long run. The tattoo would blur and lose the look of being ASCII art. That would have spoiled it for me and she knew how important it was for it to look right. So I'm glad she was honest about it rather than just going ahead and doing it. She tattoos a lot of people here in town, our whole group goes to her.

      • A K Rao profile image

        A K Rao 

        7 years ago

        I used to always wonder about these tattoos as different people have different opinions about this! Thanks a lot for providing first hand information about them in details. I am happy to gather many facts about the tattoos by an expert in the field there by increasing my knowledge!

      • EuroNinila profile image

        Fotinoula Gypsyy 

        7 years ago from NYC BABY

        I love tattoos. I have two, and that's probably as far as I'll go, I actually want to get one fixed up a little but I'm terrified of the pain! So I don't know if I'll do it...yet. Voted up and more!

      • georgepjr profile image


        7 years ago from Ohio

        I think everyone of us has had that said to us :). I thought my first was going to hurt once the machine hit my arm it didn't feel bad at all, I was prepped for way more pain. Great hub!

      • Thundermama profile imageAUTHOR

        Catherine Taylor 

        7 years ago from Canada

        Mary, thank you so much for reading and the vote up. My Mom often says the same to me about how I will look as an old tattooed woman, my response is "pretty cool."

      • mary615 profile image

        Mary Hyatt 

        7 years ago from Florida

        I have four daughters and they all have small tattoos. I tease them and say, "How's that going to look when you are old are wrinkled like me?" They don't care, they love tattoos. I think they are very pretty, too,to be honest. I never knew the ink faded after a while, though.

        I voted this Hub UP.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)