Things To Consider Before Getting Your First Tattoo
So you’re a tattoo virgin. Welcome! If you were inspired by our Non-Basic Girl’s Guide to Cute Tattoos to get your first ink, this is the place you come to when you want to make it happen. Because honey, there’s a lot of things to consider.
Aside from not being completely trolleyed, when you’re ready for your first tattoo you’ll want to ponder the following:
Tattooist / Tattoo Studio
DO YOUR RESEARCH. Don’t get your first tattoo on a whim. It may seem like a really fun, rock ’n’ roll thing to do, but unless you know the work of the tattooist who’s doing yours and have image references to hand, don’t just walk in off-the-cuff thinking that you’ll get exactly what you want. Each tattoo artist has their own style and the aesthetic you’re after might not match theirs. Also note the tattoo studio environment. Some people are affected by this (and by ‘affected’ I mean, ‘can’t deal with screamo music playing really loudly in a really dark tattoo studio’), so have a look at the website and get a feel for the overall vibe. You’ll know if it’s right for you.
The big question you have to ask yourself when it comes to design is: Will I still think this design is cool in 10 years’ time or will I regret it? Symbols and quotes (potentially) are more timeless than a specific image or graphic.
One thing to be wary of is that tattooists err on the side of large, because this means they can pack in more detail and there’ll be less chance of your tattoo getting “muddy” as your skin ages. But stick to your guns if a tiny tatt is all you want, just be sure to simplify the design the smaller you go.
Choosing where to put your swanky first tattoo comes down the design and personal preference. Depending on the former, it might look better on a certain area of your body. Any tattooist worth their salt will advise you against neck / head tattoos, and they’ll heavily caution anyone who wants a tattoo on their ribs because they don’t want the risk of you, Tattoo Virgin, wriggling all over the place. The Tacky Police also suggest not getting your first tattoo anywhere on your lower back or around your pelvic region / belly button.
To really picture yourself with a tattoo, draw on the design if it’s simple or cut out the closest visual reference you have and sticky tape it to where you want the real thing to be done. Walk around the house and see how you feel when you catch your reflection. The good thing is, if you don’t like it, you can still adjust it!
If your tattoo will be visible even when you’re wearing clothes, does your workplace have a fairly open attitude towards tattoos, or is it more conservative? Of course times are a-changing, but there’s still a significant portion of people who do not have a favourable opinion of tattoos, and it’s likely that these people are in the senior management positions, thus you don’t want to turn them off if you’re interviewing for a new job. Yes, yes, ‘But what about anti-discrimination,’ I hear you cry. Well, you’ll have no proof that this is the specific reason why they didn’t hire you, so err on the side of caution.
Your pain tolerance
Young players, please note that tattooing your ribs and back hurts far more than anywhere else. Your extremities – hands, legs, feet – hurt the least. At best it’ll feel like someone’s scraping your skin with a sharp pencil; at worst it’ll feel like, well, a thick needle being poked quite deeply into your skin so that your nerve signals get muddled and you can’t tell if you’re in a hell of a lot of pain or you kind of don’t mind it. Soz, maybe I’m projecting. Either way you don’t want to be squirming about and throwing off your tattoo artist. Side note: Yes, you’re totally allowed to be nervous, but carrying on excessively and bringing an entourage of people for ‘support’ is inconsiderate.
A cheap tatt is a bad tatt, plain ’n’ simple. The minimum price is usually £40 for hands, £80 for anywhere else. This is fairly standard because it covers basic hygiene costs and labour. Sure, if you’re getting a tiny tatt that’s only outline it might feel like a rip off, but think of it in terms of cost per wear: You’re going to have this thing on you for the rest of your life, and hopefully that’s a good couple of decades. Doesn’t seem so much now, does it?
Keep in mind you’re going to have to give your new ink some TLC. There’s really not too much involved – mainly keeping your tattoo clean, not picking at any scabbing that occurs, moisturising it occasionally with Bepanthen – but because the area’s going to be sensitive for a few days and healing for a couple of weeks, it’s best to not be going on a summer holiday where you’ll potentially get very, very sunburnt. Common sense, folks; use it and enjoy your amazing first tattoo.