Getting a tattoo is a big decision, but I'm sure you've realized that already. Tattoo removal is painful and not always successful, depending on the color of ink in the skin. So, save yourself some time and future pain by following these steps to getting a great tattoo:
- Choosing the art for your tattoo can be the most difficult part of the process. This image will be on your for the rest of your life, so getting something that you like is key. There are many tattoo magazines, websites, and books to get image ideas from. If you have an idea in your head but don't have a picture of it, asking a friend or even your chosen tattoo artist (see step 3) to draw it up for you is very common.
An easy way to start getting ideas for you tattoo is to think of what you enjoy, whether it be hobbies, skills, a location, people, or anything else in the world. Starting with these can give you a glimpse at what is important to you - important enough to get inked into your skin. No matter what image you choose, take the time to talk with your tattoo artist to make the piece truly unique; one main idea behind getting a tattoo is expressing who you are, so getting the same tattoo as someone else will defeat that purpose.
- Choosing the location of the tattoo is next. This will affect of how big the image will be, as well as how much it will cost (see step 3) and how much it will hurt (see step 5). Depending on your career, placing tattoos on more visible areas (such as your hands, arms, or neck) might be a problem. Otherwise, choosing where on your body to put your new art is mainly personal; just about any part of your anatomy is fair game.
- Picking the tattoo shop and artist is very important. At this point, you're probably more than ready to get inked, but you need to make sure your tattoo shop is clean, safe, and professional. Take the time to visit a few different shops in your area, comparing the skill, experience, and cleanliness of each location. While looking around the shop, see if you can watch an artist prepare for a tattoo. Make sure he takes fresh needles and tubes from sealed envelopes. Also, the artist should use new disposable containers for each ink color, as well as wear disposable gloves while working.
Portfolios with images of finished tattoos should be easily available at all tattoo shops. Ask what each artist's favorite style of tattoo is; this will help you determine which artist will be best to ink your chosen art. If you have friends that have tattoos, they are the best source for information. Ask them where they got their ink done, or if they know anyone in the area that does great work.
- The cost of each tattoo is unique to the piece. Simply put, you get what you pay for. Most shops price their work at an hourly rate. Each rate may be unique to each artist as well, since they all have different experience. Do not try and haggle over the price of a tattoo; this is very disrespectful to an artist. If you can't afford to get what you want, wait until you can - it will be worth the investment.
- Needle pain is all relative. Yes, it is going to hurt a bit, but just how much depends on the individual as well as the location on the body. There are no set "rules" on body locations that hurt more than others. The thinner the skin is in an area (meaning the closer the nerves are to the surface) the more it will hurt.
Well-known painful areas are along the spine, neck, inside of the arm, ribs, hands, and feet. Do not take an aspirin before hand to try and decrease the pain; this will only thin out your blood and make you bleed more in the process, making it even longer to finish the tattoo.
- Aftercare of a tattoo is pretty darn simple. After tattooing, the shop should give you a list of instructions, as well as supply you with, or give you a chance to buy, some ointment. The bigger your tattoo is, the longer you should leave the bandage/wrap on it. Your tattoo is an open wound and the last thing you want is bacteria to sneak in there.
No matter the size of your tattoo, you should leave the bandage on for at least two hours. After removing it, wash the tattoo with your hand and some mild soap, but do not re-bandage the tattoo. After lightly drying off the tattoo, apply some of the ointment previously mentioned. Reapply the ointment three to four times a day while your tattoo is still healing. Expect to see some scabbing or skin flaking on the tattoo - don't worry, this is just the skin's natural healing process. Just keep washing it lightly and applying ointment; in less than two weeks, your skin will be back to normal.
Now that you have a tattoo, anytime you go in the sun, you need to take care of it. Make sure to apply at least SPF 30, preferably higher, to the tattoo. The more you expose the tattoo to the sun, the sooner the colors will become dull.