8 Things To Think About Before Getting A Tattoo

Throughout my childhood, I went through phases in my attitude to tattoos. At 12, I thought that getting an anchor on my ankle would be “super cool.” By 15, I thought all tattoos were “gross” and couldn’t understand why people would ever commit to having a single image on their bodies for the rest of their lives. Yet here I am, at the age of 21, with a tattoo on my back. So here are a few things that were important to me about getting a tattoo, along with a few pearls of wisdom that I wish someone had told me before I got inked!

1. Be sure

Know what tattoo you want. And why you want it. After all, the image is going to stay with you for life. I chose an image that I had been thinking about for at least 2 years, so I knew my love for it wasn’t just a phase.

2. Make sure it’s individual to you

I was lucky enough to have a talented artist design my tattoo; she also happened to be one of my close friends, so creating the image was a collaborative process in which the image could be continually tweaked until it felt right. And you can do a similar thing in a tattoo parlour - don’t be afraid to book multiple consultations with your artist before committing so you can get the perfect tattoo for you.

(Photo Credit: Freya Edwards)

3. Think about where you want it

Sounds like an obvious thing to say, but think practically about how visible you want your tattoo to be. Although I wish we didn’t live in a world where potential employers would discriminate against those with a tattoo on their wrist or any other part of the body that is commonly on show, we do. And you don’t want to end up resenting your tattoo, so get it in a place that not only feels right, but won’t cause difficulties for you.

4. Find a good place to get inked

Hunt. Hunt. Hunt. Don’t be in a rush to get inked - after all it will be on your body for life! Research places and their reputations, specific artists and their styles and interests. I got my tattoo done at The Family Business Tattoo Parlour in London. I highly recommend.

(Photo Credit: The Family Business Tattoo Parlour)

5. It hurts

I’m not going to be all macho and say it wasn’t painful. I always tell people that it felt like a mini screwdriver going through my back. But then again, that is kind of what was happening. On the other hand, I found the pain bearable and 20 minutes of pain was worth it for something I will have forever. The image below is me directly after I had my tattoo done; safe to say I was relieved the pain was over!

(Photo Credit: Freya Edwards)

6. Aftercare is important

The aftercare for a tattoo is surprisingly simple. Usually the artist will cover it up with a patch which resembles a square of cling film which you keep on for a few hours after having the tattoo done. Apart from that, washing the tattoo with a hard soap twice daily to dry it out and regularly applying burn cream to the tattoo is the only thing you need to do. The only aftercare issue I had was dealing with the advice given to me about avoiding bathing for the 2 week healing period. But I coped!

7. The pain after getting inked is short

After a few hours, the pain around my tattoo died down and by the end of the day, I couldn’t believe that a few hours before needles were going into my back. It didn’t hurt at all! So if you are worried about the pain, be comforted by the fact that the period of discomfort doesn't last for long!

8. Enjoy it

It sounds silly, but I have really enjoyed sneakily turning around in the mirror to look at the tattoo on my back. And I have enjoyed showing it to people. After all, it is a unique work of art - Freya Edwards, an amazing artist and an amazing friend, takes full credit for this. Regardless of whether you want your tattoo to be for your eyes only, or for the eyes of the world, enjoy it as a thing of beauty. It has certainly made me appreciate my body more. Now I just need to exercise self-control so that I don’t go crazy and get my whole body tattooed. I’ll let you know how I get on.

(Photo Credit: Annabel Nugent)