How to Choose the Right Tattoo

Updated on February 18, 2019
glassvisage profile image

I love my tattoo and I hope you end up loving yours, too! Please take the time to learn about tattoos before going out and getting one.

My tattoo-getting experience
My tattoo-getting experience

A Big Decision

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 the final decision, including size, color, meaning, style and placement of the design, as well as the artist you choose to help you get the tattoo you want.

The bottom line, however, is to take your time and get plenty of information about tattoos and the designs you might get before choosing.

This article offers a few steps I've compiled for choosing your tattoo design and tips before making your decision. There are also links for more information and video and images to supplement your ideas. The information here is presented based on what I consider most helpful after my own tattoo-choosing experience not too long ago, and on what I've heard from other people as well.

I love my tattoo and I hope you end up loving yours too! Please take the time to learn about tattoos before you end up with something forever.

Sample Tattoo Designs

10 Tips for Getting a Tattoo

  1. You can change or alter any design you find to base your tattoo on. You might only want a piece of a picture or you might want to change the colors.
  2. Tattoo artists are there to draw for you if you want . . . don't be afraid to ask for help on creating a design.
  3. Your imagination is the limit!
  4. Consider how your tattoo would be perceived across cultures. Will it offend anyone? Does your tattoo symbol mean something bad to others?
  5. Of course, choose Asian characters wisely. Not only might your idea of what a character might mean be completely wrong, there might also be a double meaning or some other aspect to it. Don't trust the interpretations on the parlor walls.
  6. 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 maybe you shouldn't get a tattoo. Perhaps you're too finicky to choose a design you'll like in 10 more years.
  7. The No. 1 tattoo type that people want removed or covered up (besides homemade tattoos) are names! Unless the name is of someone dead or your child, then they're too testy to deal with!
  8. You might want to get a tattoo with another family member (friends might be too temporary to chance it) that matches or go together. You might also want a tattoo of a family symbol, such as a crest or last name.
  9. Your tattoo doesn't have to have a deep meaning. Don't be afraid to get a cartoon character if you really love it!
  10. 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 if the person doesn't already have tattoos in more visible areas.

If you feel hesitant at all for whatever reason, don't go through with it!

How long did it take for you to decide on a tattoo?

See results

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!
  • If you want a tattoo cover-up, it's 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 retain the look of your tattoo.

Start Deciding!

Pay heed to these steps before making your final decision:

1. Ask yourself why you even want a tattoo in the first place.

Do you want to have something you love ingrained in your skin forever? Are you doing it for someone else? Are you happy you're old enough to get a tattoo without parent permission? Are you getting a discount? Think about each reason why and why not.

2. Consider if a tattoo will affect you in the workplace or other scenarios.

It's most likely not worth losing a job over. Also see if there are rules against tattoos in other organizations your participate in, such as sports or volunteering.

3. Choose your design carefully.

  • Make sure the design has meaning to you and that it is inevitably a reflection of the self. Thus, the design should represent something that you love, enjoy or are attached to. It may be in honor of another. Why are these things meaningful to you?
  • Consider tattoos with writing even more. Make sure you know and understand the meanings of words, their origins, etc. If you're choosing a quote, make sure it represents you completely. 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, though don't restrict yourself to what's already out there. Checkbooks, posters, stationary, stickers and anything else out there, not just the designs on the tattoo parlor 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 for whatever reason, whether for work or recreation? Think about the clothes you wear, how your hair is worn and the activities you participate in and how they will affect how often your tattoo shows.
  • You can try getting a printout of the design you are considering for your tattoo artist to recreate on your skin temporarily.
  • Try getting a henna tattoo of the design you're thinking of before you get the real thing; henna is more 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.

6. Create the 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 a tattoo artist to do it. Many are conventional artists that can at least copy a picture you find that you might want to base your design on. They can also reproduce it onto your skin temporarily as well as redesign a drawing you do.
  • How big do you want this tattoo to be? Think about where it's going and if you want it to show at all. How expensive will it be? Sleeves can cost up to $300!

7. Choose an artist.

  • Consider what style of tattoo you like best, then find a tattoo artist that specializes in that style; even though many can achieve a wide range of looks, they usually have specialties. There are natural, Asian, black and white, comical and other types of looks to consider.
  • The recommendations of others 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.
  • Also consider prices. Try to get a quote before you get it because you don't want to be disappointed or angry once the tattoo is done.
  • You may want to consider the experience the artist has. It doesn't hurt to ask.

Finally, don't be afraid to take your time in choosing. The most important thing is that you yourself are happy with the finished product. Take as much time as possible! This is something I stress.

I had wanted a tattoo since I was 10, but I knew I had to wait before I made my decision. I always thought I wanted a tattoo of my name in Korean characters and then settled on where I thought I wanted it. However, as the time approached for me to go and get my tattoo, I started to change my mind. I talked to others and looked at a lot of other tattoos before I found a design to base my tattoo on.

By the time I was 19 and in the parlor, I had completely changed my mind as to what I wanted (though I still wanted only a black and white tattoo). It had taken me more than eight years to make up my mind, but I'm glad I took my time.

Questions & Answers

    © 2007 glassvisage


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image


        4 years ago

        This piece was a liajcfeket that saved me from drowning.

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        I LOVE it.I have seriously weantd this tattoo sooooooo badly. The brutal division, yet subtle accentuation of the human form is simply breathtaking. We'll see if I ever actually get the guts to permanently ink myself...xx, Claire

      • Thundermama profile image

        Catherine Taylor 

        7 years ago from Canada

        This is a very thorough and well written hub. A good read for anyone thinking of getting a tattoo.

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        Any kind of accessories express the personality of a person and the tattoo is one of the finest accessories so while getting a tattoo we have to think much so that it can explore our thoughts along the beauty. Thanks for sharing your opinion.

      • petealex profile image


        7 years ago

        I got a tatoo when I was 20 years old. The artist tried to delegate my color choices. I'm glad my best friend was with me to help me remember that I had a plan before I got there, so you are right about picking a tatoo artist. I also changed the location I initailly wanted my tatoo because it seemed because it made more sense to be on my shoulder inside of my hip. I didn't want eyes where they shouldn't be.

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        Hey thanks a lot for the info! I've been considering a tattoo for two years now, but unsure just because I want the right one. This has definitely helped calm the nerves and made me think clearer. Greatly appreciated.

      • glassvisage profile imageAUTHOR


        8 years ago from Northern California

        Thanks for sharing the link, and congratulations on choosing a design!

      • profile image

        Linda Oxford 

        8 years ago

        Very helpful!! Thank you for such a useful hub!! i have finally decided to have my tatto done.i chose the design from tatto me now. It was difficult to choose since they have more than 4 500 tatoo designs! but i got mine!!:) here is the link of my tatto design

        if there are more websites with many tatto designs kindly post.

        Best wishes!

      • profile image


        8 years ago

        Hey guys, just looking at getting a koi half sleeve. Have been looking over the net and getting a lot of inspirations on designs/colours and shadings. I have heard a lot of good reviews from a particular tattoo shop and have seen some of their work in which i was impressed. I have looked through their galleries but haven't been a fan of their koi designs. My question is... Do i go with an artist who i know does produce good work or an artist where i like their koi designs more. Any feedback would be appreciated

      • rayy profile image


        8 years ago from

        Very informative and useful hub.

      • iriegirl profile image


        8 years ago from Jamaica

        How easy is it to remove a tattoo especially those with many colors.

      • profile image

        Ben Jenkins 

        8 years ago

        Yeah i like to see someone get a full sleeve for $300. i'd have sleeves on both arms if that were true

      • profile image


        9 years ago

        I finally decided what tattoo to get... and i'm going to be getting it in about two weeks... finally got the nerves to make the appointment... I'm certain about everything... just hate needles... I will be getting a peacock on my ankle... any tips as to get over the fear of needles?

      • profile image


        9 years ago

        i am uncertain and im still thinking about getting a tattoo i just dont know where to start looking, i am a picky person and i dont want to make the wrong decision. IT IS VERY STRESSFUL,

      • butterfly Tattoo profile image

        butterfly Tattoo 

        9 years ago from Dallas Texas

        Would definitely recommend this article for anybody considering getting a tattoo. Even with Laser surgry there is no guarantee that the skin will return to looking normal.

        rated this article Awesome and will be reading the rest of your articles soon.

      • Drood profile image


        9 years ago

        after reading your hub, mine seemed a little, y'know, shallow. so, i retooled and put a new one: tattoo: sacred skin. you could look at it an let me know what you think, maybe? also, i tried to link to your hub, but can't figure out how.

      • Drood profile image


        9 years ago

        this is a great hub! i'm kinda new and i am wowed by this content. you're gonna be my role model. thanks.

      • profile image

        dumb 8yr olds 

        9 years ago

        y u even asking about what tattoo u whant at 8yrs old, if i even asked for 1 at that age i would'ov got a beat down from ma dad mate.

      • glassvisage profile imageAUTHOR


        9 years ago from Northern California

        A tribal one sounds very nice! I remember planning mine when I was 10, and by the time I was 20, I changed my mind :)

      • profile image


        9 years ago

        I'm 8, would a should I get a tribal wristband on my right muscle or choose something smaller. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna like it wen I'm older caus my brother still likes his and he's 17.

      • blabak profile image


        9 years ago

        this is so.. true.. had my back piece done 9years back.. had a prob with it the day it healed.. the ink didn't stay inside the skin (good design, good artist, bad machine and ink).. now i had this big cross leaning on my back with a blank spot of the jesus on it.. my frens said i'm the devil's son.. lol.. nice hub though.. think more than 2x before you do one.. lol..

      • glassvisage profile imageAUTHOR


        10 years ago from Northern California

        Thanks everyone! Winston, great quote :)

      • profile image

        winston churchil 

        10 years ago

        "If your body is a temple, why wouldn't you want to decorate the walls?"

      • profile image

        Steve W 

        10 years ago

        Love this HUB. Lots of valuable information and advise!

      • qual7868 profile image


        10 years ago from Canada

        Great job on the HUB...lots of good advice...I have one similar but not as detailed with the videos!

      • Dale G. Holmes profile image

        Dale G. Holmes 

        11 years ago from Brentwood, CA

        People wanting a tattoo should read this twice and take the advice - that way they're sure to decide on something they'll be happy with!

      • Whitney05 profile image


        11 years ago from Georgia

        Great info! This is bound to help those who are iffy about getting tattoos.


      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)