Tattoos are cool. Well, at least I love them. If I had started earlier I’d probably had at least half of my body inked, but as I started late and inking is not (and mustn’t be) cheap, I’m getting a piece per year, more or less.
Considering they are permanent (forget about tattoo removal, it’s painful, it expensive, takes many sessions and leaves marks), in case you are thinking of having your piece, first you should give it a serious thought, second, if you finally go ahead, there are certain things you have to be aware of from the beginning and finally, once you have your appointment book, there are also some unwritten yet very obvious rules you should follow regardless.
These are my 10 tips, I insist, you might not believe I mention some points, but it’s necessary to put you in the situation and remind you of them. Let’s start with them:
1. Don’t get tattooed on a whim, impulsively. Take your time, really. A tattoo is not only what you want, but also where and how. And always remember, once it’s done, it’ll be with you forever. It’s been usually advised not to get your first tattoo in a visible area, probably in order you get used to it. I personally don’t agree with that.
2. Do some research, ask for advice, and depending on the idea you’ve got on what you want to get inked, visit one or another artist. Every artist is unique, and even though a good one can do whatever you request, it’s true everybody stands out in certain styles. If there’s this girl whose main work is based on new traditional style, don’t book for something Japanese.
3. Once you’ve agreed on design and size, the artist becomes the master. Period. As per my experience you book with an artist because you know his work is worth it. At the time of describing what you want, be the most accurate without insulting their talent, this is, do not bring your illustrator cousin’s design which MUST NOT be modified. Always be open to suggestions. Once everything is agreed, it’s showtime, the artist’s showtime, and you will become the canvas on which they will reflect their talent. Don’t piss them off.
4. Take a shower/bath before the session. C’mon, I shouldn’t mention this, but since you expose your body to a strange, you should be respectful. Of course all parts are aware that, depending on the time your piece takes, the position you have to freeze into, and the pain, you’ll eventually sweat, and likely the artist too, so, let’s avoid excess of smell. Ah! Before I forget, this includes the other way round, don’t stink of perfume, please. Strong smells can make people around you uncomfortable.
5. Don’t go to you appointment drunk or high, by all means. I also strongly suggest do not arrive sweating massive hangover either. For many reasons: lack of respect towards the artist who’s working for you, you’ll probably reek of alcohol, which is pretty disgusting, you’ll bleed more, and pain would be more unbearable.
* Girls, forget about strong perfumes, better not to wear too much make-up or it will be ruined eventually.
6. In case you feel funny or dizzy, inform your tattoo artist about it immediately. The threshold of pain varies depending on people and some can cope with it better than others. So what? And I’m not really talking about pain. Sometimes you get nervous and tense because you’re hungry, or need to wee, or suddenly your vision is not clear. Tell it ASAP! It’s better to warn and stop to have a coke rather than pass over and not being able to finish your session.
7. Don’t force conversation with the artist. If they feel like, they’ll come up with topics of discussion. Even though your guy is super cool, and what he’s inking is awesome, it doesn’t mean you’re becoming Best Friends Forever in just 4 hours. And believe me, I’ve got really on well with all the artists I’ve been working with. It’s better to stop by the shop once the tattoo is healed at closing time and pay them a beer.
8. Try not to bring friends with you, and if you have to, try them to be quiet. Crowded booths are annoying. There’s nothing more stressful than noise. Machines themselves are very noisy and combined with pain are very stressing. If you bring talkative friends, the artist might lose concentration or feel uncomfortable. And even though you’re entertained, you need some kind of intimacy to deal with your pain (and your funny faces. They are terrible!).
9. Eat something before your session. Not the heaviest meal ever, but at least to keep you away from stomach cramps and funny noises. Also hydrate, as you’ll be very tense.
10. Do not bargain with your tattoo artist on the price of the piece. In order to avoid disagreement, ask for their rate in advance, per hour or piece, they’ll calculate you an approximate cost and pay deposit. In case they ask you for more once finished, think why they’re charging you more: most of times it has to do with the complexity and work the piece has implied, and that perhaps it’s taken longer time than. Of course, the increase shouldn’t be outrageous.
I’ve read that in some countries, such as the USA, you should tip the artist. I’ve never heard of it before, and positive never in Spain or Japan. I’d suggest you purchase some stuff such as sketchbooks, t—shirts or some kind of memorabilia.
I really hope someone might find these 10 tips might helpful. At least my idea was to help you feeling less nervous, and approach a completely new situation behaving more confident.
One more thing I didn’t think adding to the list for being too obvious yet it’s necessary you get used to it: getting tattooed is painful. You might have listened to two hundred different stories, and make up your mind in the way you want, but at the end of the day TATTOOS HURT, and it’s pointless you ask the tattoo artist about pain. Take a look at this chart, it’s interesting.
Once this said, good luck to those about to lose their skin virginity, and to those who already know what I’m talking about, please feel free to add any other useful tip.