So, your nerves are all a flutter. You’ve finally decided to take that one big step; that significant milestone, that will forever mark your life. You’re getting your very first tattoo. You’re getting inked. You’ve decided, like hundreds of celebrities, businessman, trendsetters and the like, to trick-out your body; to add a bit of flair and bling. The hard part’s over, you’ve taken the plunge. You have, I’m hopeful, rationally and calmly thought the whole fandango through. Hurray for you. Now, aside from the pain, here comes the easy part. That stage, that even though it will seem a bit intimidating and incredibly stomach wrecking, you’ll breeze through and come out the other end with a satisfied grin. Now, breathe into the bag, settle down, and let me impart some helpful tips; Holy scripture, the proverbial tablets, that you must take to heart when waltzing down into the crosshairs of the rapid needles.
1. Custom build that sucker
Google tattoo and, like porn, the internet will explode. Thousand, millions, billions, as many as there are stars in the night. Give a search engine the tiniest query and Boom, you’ll be inundated with designs. Unicorns, sharks, mandalas, Chinese characters, Muppets, Polynesian patterns, etc, etc, etc. The temptation is to pick one and run down to your nearest parlor. Wrong, wrong and wrong. Why? I ask you. Why settle for something most likely already plastered on countless bodies? Be unique. Find the right design. Talk to your artist. Make it personal. Make it kickass. Adapt it to your body type. But, above all, be your own individual.
2. You get what you pay for
If you go to your corner bar and hand the barkeep loose change, don’t expect Don Perignon. Same deal goes for a tattoo. This is a vital piece of intel. Don’t skimp out on a tattoo. Invest heavily and with well-known artists. Don’t go to your friend’s cousin just because he’s offering a discount. This is something that will stick with you your whole life. So, thrifty shopper, toss the coupon and start saving up your pennies.
3. Do your research
There was a time when tattoo artist were a rare breed. Nowadays, go anywhere mildly hip and they’re like cockroaches. You just have to kick a stone and hundreds will swarm out at you. So, don’t just go into your nearest shop and pick out the first bloke you see. Find them online, look at their portfolio. Don’t spare any detail. Find one that fits with your expectations.
4. Listen to your Artist
Trust the man, listen to his advice and suggestions. Pay and heed his warnings. Style, shape and placement. Remember he knows more about tattoos than you do. Any self-respecting artist will want the best outcome for you. You’re going to be a walking-talking marque sign for their work.
5. Pain is part of the process
Ouch, that’s going to be your tune. Tattoos are a literal pain in the ass. So hold on tight, think of your happy place, and take it like a man. Remember, that fiery discomfort is part of the process. Also, think deep on where you’ll place your ink, some areas are more sensitive than others.
6. Aftercare, aftercare and aftercare
This is an essential part of the experience. You’re getting jabbed by hundreds of tiny little pricks; there will be blood, gore, and fleshy bits. Like all cuts, how you tend to them afterwards, is pivotal to the healing process. Every tattoo artist has his own pointers; his own recipe and tricks. What it generally boils down to is staving off infection. The basics are: gently wash with lukewarm water and a lather with a non-irritating cleanser; let it breath for a while; dry by patting lightly and apply some moisturizer. Avoid the sun and don’t pick at the scab.
7. Patience and try not to freak out
You’re going to bleed, during and after. When you get home plasma will soak up the protective wrapping. Ink will run in rivulets and after a while a scab will form on your new tattoo. Keep a level head. Your tattoo is not losing ink and post bleeding is perfectly natural. It’s going to take weeks for the colors to actually reach their potential. During that time, don’t go bug-out crazy with anticipation. You’ve waited this long, a bit more won’t kill you.
So, there you go… Oh, one final tip. Think deep on what you’re going to get. Remember what’s cool today, might not be cool tomorrow, or this year’s passion might seem kitsch down the line.