Thursday, January 31, 2019
Getting A Tattoo
This is a post I've wanted to do for a good while, but never got around to it. I got reminded of it the other day, so I sat down and wrote down everything I could remember that is significant, and it actually ended up being a whole lot!
Getting a tattoo is kind of a big deal, especially if it's your first! If you're reading this and planning on getting your first tattoo, congratulations! I hope I can help you out. For the rest of you, maybe there are some things you didn't know, or just need a refresher if it's been a while since your last (it's been about 2,5 years since my last one, gah!). Either way, I hope you enjoy!
Why do you want a tattoo? In my case, all of mine mean something to me, represent certain times of my life or interests, in addition to decorating myself with beautiful artwork. It can be many reasons, and it doesn't have to be a long sobstory that you see on TV shows. Do whatever you want! I emphasize YOU, cause this will be on YOUR body for the rest of your life. Don't do it because all your friends are doing it or because it's the cool trend now. It's your body, your choice.
Get an idea of what you want. Find inspiration pictures you can bring to the studio, or even draw it yourself if you can.
Make sure that this is something you really want. Maybe put the idea aside for a while - this could be months, or even years. You can hang it up somewhere you would see it every day, or put it as the background photo on your phone or computer. Depending on the placement, it's likely you will see it every day for the rest of your life.
Speaking of placement, get an idea of that too. Consider how visible it will be, and how that might possibly affect your life. Tattoos on the face, neck and hands can for example cost you a job, so think about if it will affect your career. Visible tattoos can also prompt comments from friends, family and even strangers - sometimes they even want to touch them too! Which is especially annoying when they're fresh, so be prepared for that if you get it somewhere visible. Certain placements can also be very annoying during the healing process, so that's also something to keep in mind. If you get a tattoo on your back for example, make sure you have someone to help you take care of it. Some areas are also more prone to fading, especially the hands and feet.
Find the right artist. When you know what you want, find an artist with a style that you like. Check out your local studios - They usually have portfolios for each artist on Facebook or Instagram. If you can't find any locally, keep your eyes peeled for tattoo conventions or guest artists at your local studios. If that doesn't work out either, consider traveling! Or rather, consider getting a tattoo if you're planning a trip. It will be a great memory, and I think it's pretty cool to have ink done in different places in the world! I've been tattooed in Norway, The Philippines and The United States. Two I got in the latter countries are also linked to the meanings of the tattoos.
And please don't copy other people's tattoos. Serious artists will refuse to do it. Tattoos should be specifically designed for you by your artist.
This might go without saying, but I'll include it just in case. Make sure that the studio is a proper one. Now here it's pretty unlikely they would even be in business if they didn't have their shit together, but that might not be the case in other places. Most likely you should be able to ask for certification from a health department (or something like that) - Usually that would be hanging on their wall. They should have portfolios, contracts for customers to sign, single-use equipment and be clean - It should smell like a dentist's office! I hate that smell myself, but I know that it at least means they're clean.
Save up. Tattoos aren't cheap. And they shouldn't be! You're getting quality work that will last for the rest of your life - Maybe even longer if your skin gets preserved very well after you die! You get what you pay for; if it's cheap, it will definitely look cheap. I'm sure everyone has seen photos of really bad tattoos online, and you don't wanna end up on one of those compilations. Or even worse; the cousin of an aquaintance's sister does tattoos from their living room with unsanitary equipment, and you can end up catching a life-threatening disease. So you definitely don't want a bargain price.
If it's a bigger piece, make sure you have money put aside for the tattoo in advance.
Go to the studio, bring your inspiration pictures and talk to the artist you've chosen. They can then let you know how long it will take, an estimate price, and when they are available to do it. A lot of artists have waiting lists, so don't expect to get an appointment straight away. I think it's a good thing anyway, cause when you get an estimate price, you can make sure you have the money set aside - if you estimated too little, you have time to save up some more.
Oh, and I know other countries have tipping culture, but I can't really tell you what's the normal thing there. But keep it in mind!
Before you go in, make sure you've slept well, eaten and showered. If your body is in tiptop shape, you can deal with it better. It's also courteous towards your tattoo artist. And don't drink alcohol the night before! That will just make you bleed more. Try not to drink coffee or energy drinks either, as they make you more sensitive to pain. Also keep in mind being on your period does the same.
Consider the placement of the tattoo when you get dressed that day (and possibly during the healing process). The tattoo artist needs to access that body part, so wear a tank top / short sleeves, shorts or whatever. This could also mean not wearing a bra if that affects the area. I also recommend loose clothing in softer fabrics so it doesn't irritate the fresh tattoo.
Bring some snacks and maybe a blanket if the studio is chilly. If you're doing a bigger piece, you can bring stuff to keep you entertained throughout the day. Remember to bring a form of ID! You will probably be given a contract to read and sign if you haven't already. You also have to wait for your artist to customize the design and create a stencil. When you've figured out the exact placement, then you can begin!
Will it hurt? Some areas hurt more than others, but it also depends on your pain tolerance. I guess it feels like a bee sting or something, but what I find worse is that after a while, your skin will get pretty tender. If you sit there long enough, even the wiping won't feel good anymore. I don't think arms hurt at all, my thigh piece was painful since it took 6 hours, and ribs definitely hurt. Most people will agree that it's worth it (hey, giving birth hurts too), it's only temporary, and it will last for the rest of your life. But some people can't take it, so if you don't deal with pain very well, consider getting it on a different body part or a smaller size. Talk to your tattoo artist, they can definitely help you out. You can often also get a numbing cream, but then you have to come in earlier so it has time to work.
Aftercare: Listen to what your artist tells you. Usually they'll give you a piece of paper with instructions. Go out and buy the products they recommend (some will even give you samples). Take off the plastic and wash it gently at the time your artist has told you, and apply cream. It's important that you don't scratch it or pick at the scabs! It's a fresh wound, and if you don't take care of it, it won't heal properly. If you fuck it up because of bad aftercare, your artist will probably charge to fix it. It's normal for the tattoo to at least look like it's fading, as the scabs are often darker, since there's often excess ink that sheds off. But if you DO lose color, your artist should be able to refill that with no extra cost within a set time. Check with your studio on what policy they have on this.
Don't go into swimming pools (and the like) or the sun for the first period after you get it, to prevent infection and fading. After it's healed it should be fine, but I recommend using sunscreen on your tattoos to keep them looking vibrant for as long as possible. One thing to keep in mind is that if you're planning a summer vacation, or just want to be able to not have it covered up in summer, it would be best to get the tattoo during the other seasons.
What if you regret it? Oh, we've all heard this one, usually from people who don't have them. But it does happen. Even though you were super sure about it before you got it, everyone changes over time. Tons of laser removal businesses have popped up in recent years because of this, and they're making a lot of money. If you want to go down that route, be prepared that getting a tattoo removed is even more painful and expensive than getting it. It's not certain that they will disappear completely either. So maybe consider a cover-up.
Some of this stuff can also apply to other types of body modification, even though they're not permanent. You're still modifying your body, and spending money doing it. So make sure you really want it and take care of it! But for stuff other than tattoos, it's usually no problem removing it.
That's all I've got! I'm by no means an expert, but I'm passionate about body modifications, and did my research before getting them. This post has also been proofread by a tattoo apprentice friend of mine (Check out her Instagram!), and she added some things too. If you've read this, congratulations! You've made a good choice. Hope you've learned something and that you'll be prepared, and good luck with your new tattoo! If you wanna read the stories behind my tattoos, click here!