Beginning the tattoo process, whether just for one small piece or for a whole sleeve, is a lengthy procedure and it is important to educate yourself on the basics of tattoos. There are many crucial aspects that need to be considered before you commit to have a piece of art on your body for the rest of your life. Knowing the answers to important questions will save your artist time and will save you the stress of getting yourself into a situation you may not be prepared for. Below are some of the most vital and necessary features that need to be contemplated before walking into a tattoo shop.
Having an Idea
The first step is the most obvious: what will you be getting tattooed? What imagery are you willing to portray on your skin forever? Your choice can be something with meaning or simply something you find aesthetically pleasing. You can sit on the idea for many years or just a few days. Regardless of your thought process and reason for being tattooed, you should have a general idea of what you want your piece to look like. You should also consider important aspects that are specific and necessary to include in the art, such as a certain color palette you want to stick to or any detail you want incorporated. Your ideas and the tattoo artist’s final rendition might be extremely different, so it is important to discuss your idea thoroughly with the artist you choose to make sure you are on the same page.
Selecting Your Artist
Once you have your idea, it is time to choose your artist. With todays access to sources of inspiration, such as Instagram, finding an artist in your area or overseas is easier than ever. Take a look through their portfolio to see if you like their style. Although there are tattoo artists that have a general specialization and are okay to tattoo anything, it would be beneficial to you to choose an artist that concentrates on one specific style, as they would be proficient and knowledgeable in that area of the tattoo spectrum. If you want a traditional tattoo, it would not be wise to choose an artist that specializes in black and gray realism. Chances are that the artist will deny your request and it will be a waste of both of your time. Do your research and choose a specialist that focuses on that specific style you are interested in.
The Consultation Process
Once you decide on the imagery and the artist you are interested in, it is time to set up the consultation. You can call, email or direct message the artist or studio in question to set up the time you will come in and speak with them. This is one of the most important steps in the process, as the communication between you and your tattoo artist will determine the outcome of your tattoo. During this time, it is vital to show all of your references and share your ideas, as well as mention details that are mandatory to include. The tattoo artist may recommend certain colors and give a few ideas of their own. It is important to listen to what a professional has to say but, in the end, the decision is up to you. Don’t allow anyone to talk you into something you don’t want to do or change your initial idea, as you will be wearing this art on your body for the rest of your life. If you are unsure of what you want, allow the artist creative freedom, as this will be the best option for a beautifully crafted and professional end product. This is also the time to discuss price and how the artist charges. Some charge per hour, others by size, so it is vital to gauge how much money you should have prepared and set aside for your appointment.
Booking the Appointment
Once the details have been ironed out, it is time to set the appointment! Discuss dates and times that are comfortable and available for both you and the tattoo artist. Typically, they will ask for a deposit for their time and in case you decide to not show up. Remember, the artist must dedicate time and effort into pre-drawing your tattoo and setting up the shop for your appointment. If you get cold feet, be considerate and call to cancel the appointment in advance to save your artist the hassle. If you become sick or have an emergency, please reschedule your appointment, as most shops will be happy to do this for you. It is much more preferable to having a no-show client.
Will it Hurt?
Most likely. Different parts of your body will have different pain levels. Pain is different for everyone, depending on your sensitivity and pain threshold. It is hard to gauge how you will react to getting tattooed, especially if it is your first time and you have nothing to compare it to. The most important thing is to stay calm and relaxed because, chances are, it hurts a lot less than you thought it would. It is also crucial to come prepared for your appointment, to reduce the chances of getting dehydrated or sick.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR TATTOO APPOINTMENT
Eat BEFORE coming for your appointment
It will benefit both you and your artist if you come to your appointment on a full stomach. Eating helps calm your nerves and keep your blood pressure down and at the appropriate levels. It will also help to reduce headaches and anxiety, so it is vital to have some food before arriving to the shop. If you are sitting for a long time, bring some sugary drinks or snacks to keep you happy and keep your blood sugars up. Please make sure to arrive SOBER. It is illegal to tattoo an inebriated customer as it thins your blood and will result in a poorly done tattoo. It is also how bad decisions are made, so make sure to arrive with a clear mind.
Get some sleep
Being tired will make you easily irritable and nervous. You may feel heightened emotions, usually negative, and will make the appointment difficult for yourself and your artist. Make sure to go to bed early before your appointment and get as much sleep as possible, so you arrive with a clear head and a good attitude.
Come dressed appropriately
Wear comfortable attire that makes the spot you want tattooed easily accessible. For example, wear a pair of shorts for a leg tattoo or a short-sleeved t-shirt for a forearm tattoo. Make sure the clothing is not too warm or restricting, as you may feel irritated and uncomfortable during your appointment, especially if you’re sitting for a long period of time.
Stay away from the sun!
You want to make sure you are taking good care of your skin, before and after getting tattooed. This includes wearing sunscreen and staying out of the sun’s harmful UV rays. Tattooing an area that has recently been sunburned will be extremely painful and can result in scarring and poor healing. Not wearing sunscreen AFTER getting tattooed will result in fading and will need a touch up.
PROPER TATTOO SHOP ETIQUUETTE
Bringing a Friend
Bringing a friend, especially to your first tattoo appointment, can be a reassuring comfort. Make sure the friend is not judgemental or too opinionated in regard to your tattoo choice. A friendly suggestion when asked is appropriate, but bringing an extremely outspoken, rude individual with you is unwise and annoying. It can make you doubt your decisions and yourself. Bring one person you trust and who loves you enough to be a comforting, reliable support system. Please refrain from bringing your whole posse, as this habit takes up room and is usually a stressful and loud situation.
Please do not bring children to your appointment. A tattoo shop is an inappropriate place for kids, as there are usually adult conversations and music playing in the background. Children are also usually loud and impatient, which may distract your artist and ruin the atmosphere of the shop. Please refrain from bringing kids into the studio unless they are extremely well behaved and respectful of their surroundings.
Be honest and respectful
If you feel like you are dizzy, sick or unwell, let your artist know. If you talk, talk at an appropriate indoor level and try not to move your body. Come to your appointment showered and hygienic, as you will be in close proximity to your artist for hours. Do as you are told because that is the best way to ensure your tattoo comes out perfect!
Payment and Tipping
Make sure you know which forms of payment the shop accepts. Some are cash only and will not accept any form of card payments. If you are happy with the quality of your tattoo, tipping your artist is the perfect way to show your gratitude. Although not necessary, it is greatly appreciated and a generous way of saying thank you to your tattoo artist.
Your tattoo artist will give you all the necessary information needed to take care of your new piece of art. Each artist will recommend different methods, but the idea stays the same: don’t itch or pick at the scabs (this will cause scarring and will pull ink out of your skin), don’t go into the sun or fully soak the tattoo until it is fully healed and, most importantly, keep it clean! Using non-scented soap is the best method to keep your tattoo clean and well taken care of. Everyone is different, so healing times may vary but, on average, your tattoo will full heal in about 2-3 weeks.
With the newfound knowledge from this guide, you will be prepared for every step of the tattoo process. Being educated is the most important aspect of any decision making, especially when it is permanent, and doing research is the best way to have some answers to the most important questions regarding tattoos.