How to Choose the Right Tattoo
How to Choose a Tattoo You'll Love Forever
Choosing a tattoo can be stressful because it's so permanent, and making the wrong decision can be painful, costly, and inconvenient. There are many factors to consider before making your final decision, including size, color, design, meaning, style, and placement, as well as which artist to choose to get exactly the tattoo you want.
The bottom line is to take your time and do all your research before choosing.
Here, you'll find a list of steps to follow when choosing your tattoo design and helpful tips for making your decision. Here's everything I've learned from my own tattoo-choosing experience and what I've heard from other people, as well.
I love my tattoo, and I hope you end up loving yours, too!
10 Tips for Getting a Tattoo You Love
- After you find an idea you like, you can change or alter any design you find to suit your personal taste. For example, you might find a picture of a tattoo you really like, only you might only want a part of it, or you might want to change the colors.
- If you want something completely original, a good tattoo artist is available to design one for you if you want . . . don't be afraid to ask for help creating your unique design.
- Your imagination is the limit! Spend some time brainstorming creatively. Don't settle on your first impulse.
- Consider how your tattoo might be perceived across cultures. Will it offend anyone? Does its symbolism mean something negative to anyone?
- Of course, if you want something written in Asian characters (in hanzi, kanji, or hanja, for example), choose very carefully and double-check your design. Not only might your idea of what that character means be completely wrong, there might also be a double meaning or some other aspect to it you haven't considered. Do your research first; don't trust the interpretations on the shop walls.
- Think about the kind of tattoo or design you would have gotten 10 years ago and ask yourself if you'd like that now. If not, then take this fact into serious consideration. Can you avoid changing your mind about your design later? How can you anticipate your future tastes? It might turn out that you're too changeable or finicky to choose a design you'll like forever.
- Aside from homemade tattoos, the number one tattoo type that people usually want removed or covered up are names. Unless the name belongs to your child or a dead loved one, avoid having any name tattooed on your skin!
- You might want to get a tattoo with another family member (friends might be too temporary to chance) that matches or go together. You might also want a tattoo of a family symbol, such as a crest or last name.
- Your tattoo doesn't have to have a deep meaning. Don't be afraid to get a cartoon character if you really love it!
- Keep in mind that it costs more to get foot, hand, and face tattoos because they need more touch-ups and require more time and attention to heal. Some artists may also refuse to do these types of tattoos, especially if you don't already have tattoos in more visible areas.
If you feel hesitant at all for whatever reason, don't go through with it!
How to Decide Which Tattoo to Get
1. Ask yourself why you want a tattoo in the first place.
Are you doing it for someone else? Are you following a trend? Are you just exercising your freedom to finally get a tattoo without parent permission? Are you getting a discount? Think about your reasons before you proceed.
2. Consider the tattoo's effect in the workplace or other scenarios.
A tattoo is not worth losing a job over. Also see if there are rules against tattoos in other organizations you participate in, such as sports or volunteering.
3. Choose your design carefully.
- Make sure the design has personal meaning and that it is a reflection of your self. The design should represent something that you love, enjoy, or are attached to. It may be in honor of another. Ask yourself why are these things meaningful to you?
- Approach tattoos with writing even more carefully. Make sure you know and understand the meanings of the words, their origins, and all possible interpretations. If you're choosing a quote, make sure it represents you completely. And don't forget to pick the perfect font (or make your own) . . . typefaces create moods and feelings.
- Look at other tattoos and designs that exist already, but don't restrict yourself to what's already out there. Check books, posters, stationary, stickers, and anything else out there, not just the designs on the tattoo studio walls.
4. Think about where you want it.
- The placement of your tattoo on your body is very important. Do you want it to show up every day or do you want it covered up most of the time? Think about the clothes you wear, how you style your hair, and the activities you participate in.
- Try printing up the design you are considering to see how it will look. Most tattoo artists will also print up the design and put it on your skin temporarily to check placement and use as a guide.
- Try getting a henna tattoo of the design you're thinking of before you get the real thing; henna is temporary (lasting at least a week and up to a month) and, though you won't be able to get the colors and exact detail of what you want, you can get an idea of how it feels in a certain place at a certain size.
5. Choose your tattoo's color(s) wisely.
Do you want your tattoo in black or gray? Do you want a full-color tattoo? White? Will the color fade faster in certain places on your body? Consider the pigment of your skin and how well the color goes with it. Consider how colors will inevitably fade.
6. Create your own design.
- Be creative. Sometimes it just takes a little practice to draw your own design.
- You don't have to create the design yourself; you can ask your tattoo artist to do it. Most are artists who can interpret any idea or picture you choose. They can also redesign any drawing you do and reproduce it onto your skin temporarily.
- Consider size. Think about where it's going and if you want it to show.
- Consider cost. How expensive will it be? Sleeves can cost up to $300!
7. Choose an artist.
- After you've decided what style of tattoo you like best, then find a tattoo artist that specializes in that style. Even though most artists can achieve a wide range of looks, they usually have specialties. There are natural, Asian, black-and-white, comical, and other types of styles to consider.
- Recommendations can really help! Make sure that the artist you go to gets good props from former and/or current customers; don't just go to the nearest parlor. Look at tattoos people got from the place you're thinking about going to and see if they have the kind of look you're going for.
- Consider prices. Get a quote before you start.
- Consider the experience the artist has. It doesn't hurt to ask.
8. Don't be afraid to take your time.
The most important thing is that you are happy with the finished product. Take as much time as possible! This is something I stress.
I'd wanted a tattoo since I was 10, but I knew I had to wait. I always thought I wanted my name in Korean characters, but as the time approached for me to go and get it, I started to change my mind. I talked to others and looked at a lot of other tattoos before I found a new, better design. By the time I was 19 and in the parlor, I had completely changed my mind. It had taken me more than eight years to make up my mind, but I'm glad I took my time.
General Tattoo Risks
- Be sure to choose a design you like so you don't have to resort to removing your tattoo. Laser tattoo removal is very expensive, painful, and time-consuming . . . and it might not even work completely. Remember: don't be afraid to take your time in choosing a tattoo design so you won't regret it later!
- A tattoo cover-up is cheaper than removal, but make sure you find an artist who specializes in it.
- As tattoos can become infected, make sure that you take special care and listen to what the tattoo artist says regarding care. Oftentimes they may offer a page of instructions for your reference.
- As you grow older, tattoos may lose color or quality and may require touch-ups, often after 10–30 years, though it depends on the area. Certain parts of the body show tattoo wear faster than others. Using sunscreen or skin moisturizers can help keep your tattoo fresh-looking.
How long did it take for you to decide on a tattoo?
Questions & Answers
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