How long have you been scribbling in a notebook to come up with the ideas you’re so anxious to get permanently inked on your body?
There are a few things you should be aware of before moving forward. We’ve gathered all the crucial information in one place in our 101 guide to everything you should know before getting a tattoo. We have all the answers to your burning questions after speaking with tattoo artists and ink addicts, and we’ve put together the ultimate guide.
Who is This Guide for?
A tattoo is permanent. We’re talking about permanent tattoos here, not henna or stick-on tattoos. Inks are injected into the dermis layer of your skin to create tattoos. To accomplish this, multiple needle punctures are made in your skin to penetrate to the second layer of skin and deposit the colors there.
After the wound has healed, the colors and patterns become visible. Unless surgically or using lasers, this is permanent and will stay with you for the rest of your life (more on that below).
As a result, in order to get a tattoo in the USA, you must be at least 18 years old.
Like everything else, getting a tattoo has its pros and cons. The most pressing issue for most people is pain, but there are other things to think about before you start…
Here are some details you need to consider before you even consider finalizing designs:
- The tattoo will be painful (although the adrenaline that kicks in will help),
- It won’t be cheap, and the entire process takes time—it doesn’t happen right away!
- When you’re 90, your tattoo will still be there.
- It can be painful and expensive to remove a tattoo.
- Even a small tattoo removal is quite expensive. And some tattoos are much more difficult to get rid of than others. The average cost in the country for laser removal is $463. You’re looking at thousands of dollars for an entire sleeve.
Choosing a Design
Take the time to consider what you want because a tattoo can have a lot of significance. You shouldn’t rush into it.
If you’re depending on the tattoo artist to translate the design in your head to paper, the tattoo style and their abilities should match. If getting the ideal tattoo from your tattoo artist idol is your dream, be prepared to patiently wait as in-demand tattoo artists will be booked up far in advance.
Do your homework! Visit tattoo parlors in person to browse portfolios or look at tattoo artists’ work on Instagram. This is a fantastic way to get ideas and see how designs appear on skin as opposed to paper, which brings us to…
Placement and Size
Simply put, a larger tattoo will require more sessions, take longer to complete, cost more money, and hurt more overall.
However, placement is also crucial to think about, particularly if you’re worried about the discomfort of getting a tattoo. It hurts a lot when skin is stretched so close to the bones and has little flesh. As well as particularly delicate zones.
Common locations where your pain tolerance will be tested:
- Rib cage
- Inner thighs
- Undersides of your upper arms
The tattoo artist can advise you on the placement and size of your tattoo once you’ve selected a general area for it.
Care and Pain
There is no getting around the pain of getting a tattoo. Size, placement, and your level of pain tolerance all affect how painful it will be. It might be too difficult for you to get a tattoo if you can’t handle any kind of pain.
Additionally, you must take your tattoo’s preparation and aftercare seriously. Trips to the tattoo shop on the spur of the moment are great, but it’s best to plan ahead for your first tattoo. That entails conducting research, scheduling your appointment in advance, and complying to the instructions provided for taking care of your fresh tattoo.
An affordable budget
A tattoo won’t be inexpensive to get. The tattoo artist still needs new ink, clean needles, gloves, and all the necessary sterilization on the equipment, even if you only want a tiny ladybug on your toe. Prices start at $50 to $100 regardless of the size of the tattoo. Oh, and you should consider leaving a tip.
The other reason is that you are paying for their skills and talents because they are genuinely talented artists. A tattoo quote should be taken seriously unless it seems extremely cheap.
Finding the best tattoo artists and a reputable tattoo parlor is a crucial choice. Next, we’ll go over what to look for and how to locate one.
Finding a Reputable Tattoo Shop or Artist
Your initial contact with tattoo artists and shops will depend on the type of tattoo you want. This isn’t very important if your tattoo is very simple, like your mother’s initials on the inside of your wrist. Finding a tattoo artist skilled in the design you want is crucial if you want to recreate the modern Mona Lisa of tattoos on your shoulder.
The most popular tattoo designs are:
- Japanese and comic book styles feature bold colors with distinct outlines.
- Greyscale images are frequently very intricate and involve a lot of shading but only one color.
- Portraits are similar to realism but frequently fall under their own category. Not all tattoo artists are adept at doing accurate portraits.
- Realism: It resembles a photograph exactly! Again, not all tattoo artists are capable of achieving this result.
- Surrealism: You’ll need a self-assured, skilled tattoo artist to design one if you want an abstract, one-of-a-kind tattoo.
- You can make a shortlist of tattoo artists and shops that might be a good fit once you’ve decided on the style you want. However, you should first determine how secure the tattoo parlor is before going under the needle.
Tattoo artists are cool, but they still need to act professionally. If it’s your first tattoo, they should explain what they’re doing and what to expect rather than rushing you into anything.
An expert will prefer to meet with you in person first to discuss your needs and make sure everything is clear, including the cost of their services.
If you want a stylized tattoo, such as a portrait of your cat, this is especially crucial. Selecting a tattoo artist with prior experience tattooing similar designs will yield the best results.
Experience and cost are related; a tattoo artist with more experience might bill more for their skills. We think that’s absolutely worth the price, but you have to stick to your budget. Even if you don’t intend to get your tattoo there, request quotes from local tattoo parlors. This will enable you to compare tattoo prices and identify instances of overcharging or suspiciously low quotes.
How to Get a Tattoo: Preparation
Before getting a tattoo, you’ll need to meet with the artist to discuss some paperwork (proof of age and payment, specifically) and decide on the design. If you have a straightforward design ready, you might be able to complete this in a single session. Or perhaps several consultations could be necessary. Additionally, you will schedule a time for the tattoo.
Ask your tattoo artist what you should do the day and night before your session if they don’t provide pre-care instructions.
Typical general advice includes:
- No aspirin, alcohol, caffeine, or other blood-thinning medications. For 48 hours prior to getting your tattoo, stay away from these things to stop excessive bleeding.
- Eat well and drink plenty of water. Keep your strength up so you can endure lengthy tattoo sessions. A healthy body will heal more quickly.
- Do not moisturize right before the session. Lightly moisturize your skin the week before the tattoo or a few days before the appointment.
- The night before, shave the tattooed area. When you arrive, some tattoo artists prefer to re-shave the area. But avoid cutting yourself or you’ll have to completely reschedule the appointment.
- Get lots of rest and a good night’s sleep the night before. Being aware will help you maintain your composure and complete stillness while getting inked.
- Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to easily expose the tattooed area when you go for your appointment. Afterward, you shouldn’t wear anything tight over that area.
You should adhere to certain dos and don’ts, but if the tattoo artist is aware that this is your first tattoo, we hope they will be understanding enough to walk you through the process and overlook any discrepancies.
You must remain still while they work on the tattoo. That entails letting them decide whether to strike up a conversation or not. Additionally, avoid staring at the tattoo or the tattooist as they work—that is extremely unsettling!
Your general aftercare responsibilities include:
- Leaving the bandage on for a few hours (no matter how much your friends beg to see it).
- Use lukewarm water and mild antibacterial soap to gently clean the area.
- Use paper towels to gently pat dry; do not swipe or drag!
- Apply some salve or tattoo cream. You can ask your tattoo artist to suggest the brand they trust the most.
- Use lukewarm water to regularly wash and maintain the tattoo’s cleanliness. Take as many showers as necessary, but avoid soaking the tattoo.
- If/when scabs appear, soak them in a warm compress gently until they become soft and fall off. Refrain from picking at them.
- Until the tattoo has healed, wear baggy clothes that don’t chafe against it.
- Applying sunscreen to the tattoo after it has healed is a good idea to avoid sun damage. The tattoo will fade more quickly if it is exposed to UV rays.
You might need to think about getting a tattoo touch-up soon after or a few years later. This entails going over the tattoo to make it sharper, fill in any gaps or errors, or improve the colors. Keep in mind that the same guidelines for choosing a reputable tattoo artist or shop from above will apply!
By now, you should either be feeling buzzed to get your first tattoo or sure that tattoos are not for you. That’s alright! They are not appropriate for everyone. Make sure to bookmark this page in case you change your mind in the future.