Ready to take the plunge (or stab, if you will) and get your first tattoo?
You definitely already know this, but they are a permanent body modification, and getting one removed is a painful, costly process.
When you can’t quite make your mind up on what to get, or you have the design sorted but aren’t sure where to go from here, the world of tattooing can be intimidating and overwhelming.
No worries – we’re here with a quick and concise guide to picking a debut tattoo that you’ll love for the rest of your life, not just the first few months!
From art to artist, location to copyright, we’re covering it all. Let’s get started.
Choose Your Artist Wisely
More important than picking the right design is ensuring that the artist you go for is not just reputable, but able to produce the tattoo in an art style you actually like.
Doing your due diligence here is important – loving the outcome depends on it!
Research all of the artists in your local area, and then branch out – sometimes it’s better to travel a little bit (or a lot, depending on their location!) in order to get a tattoo that fits your imagined design perfectly.
Check Out Parlour Reviews Before Booking
Likewise, doing business with a reputable tattoo parlour is also imperative, whether it’s your first or fiftieth tattoo! Check their reviews from other customers, do the obligatory Google search and have a scroll through their social media.
If you’re at all worried about the legitimacy, cleanliness or, well, anything about an artist, then it’s probably best to cut your losses and pick another one. Unless you want a skin infection or a wonky permanent addition to your arm!
Look At Flash Books
Many artists have what’s known as a flash sheet or book, where they draw up designs for a set price and you pick from a bunch of existing art. Struggling for inspiration? Look at the flash of your favorite artists, and see if any take your fancy!
These will usually stick to a certain theme or genre and can quite literally take any forms. It’s very important that you receive a flash tattoo only from the artist who made the flash – don’t just take their design and head elsewhere!
Avoid Copying Others
Just as screenshotting an artist’s flash and asking another one to replicate it is terrible tattoo conduct – any artist willing to rip off someone else’s design is not one you want to get work from! – stealing any artist’s work, in the tattoo industry or not, is a no-no.
If you like an artist’s work, you need to ask for permission to get it tattooed. This isn’t a legal requirement (unless they have copyright on their work, then it’s a whole different ball game) but it’s certainly common courtesy.
Many non-tattoo artists are happy to let you get their work tattooed, and some actively encourage it! Get in touch and find out where they stand, offer to buy a print or send them some money for your use of the design, and respect if they say no.
Find Meaning In Your Design
Now, this doesn’t have to be pretentious, nor must it be significant or important to everybody – the only person that matters is you. It’s going to be on your body, and a lot of people are going to ask you what it is or what it means.
You don’t have to answer them, but you should know in yourself what the ink means to you personally, even if the answer is “I thought it looked cool” – that’s more than enough reason to get inked.
Even if nobody else likes it, as long as you love the design and can find some sort of meaning in it, that’s all that matters. Click Here to learn more about potential existing meanings – this particular article is focused on some of the interpretations behind star tattoos!
Decide Placement In Advance
Figure out exactly where your tattoo is going to go on your body.
This is very important information to provide your artist with ASAP, as it will impact their design and overall work process.
Certain areas are difficult or more painful to tattoo than others, whereas some parts like our hands and feet are more susceptible to fading. Consider all of these factors when deciding where your new permanent art should go!
Color Or Black and White, Line or Shadow…
As above, deciding whether you want your tattoo to be a very simplistic line-art only design or full color piece with shading will not only impact how long the design takes, but how it will heal.
Try to decide everything you’re after and tell your artist all of the information you can give them right at the start, before they’ve even begun drawing up a draft concept. This way, you’ll get close to your visualisation straight away!
Don’t Listen To Anyone Else – Except Your Artist!
Whilst the opinions of, say, your Mom or your best friend really shouldn’t impact your decision to get a design – unless they’re telling you it’s legitimately offensive or inappropriate, and can provide evidence – you should definitely listen to your artist.
As the expert, they literally tattoo different skin types, placements and designs every single day, and they will know best about what’s going to work and what isn’t. That said, if some racist is telling you tattoos won’t work on Black skin, you should definitely ignore that.
Avoid Googling “Will It Hurt”
Yes – it’s tiny needles penetrating your skin a thousand times a minute.
It’s not going to feel like tickling! That being said, many people find it’s often a lot less painful than they anticipated, so if you’re scared, don’t worry: it’s going to be okay!
Tattooing is an art form, and it can be a very therapeutic way to spend a couple of hours. Enjoy your experience and stay safe. Happy healing!