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How to Prepare Yourself to Get a Tattoo

Permanent body modifications are a pretty scary decision to make, as they should be! In 20 years am I still going to be obsessed with Harry Potter? Who knows! But even if I’m not, I’ll look down at those three little stars and remember a childhood waiting for my Hogwarts acceptance letter.

Tattoos are a big decision, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a good decision. I am a strong believer in getting a tattoo because there is something that you want on your body, not just because you want a tattoo.

That being said, if you want an avocado on your arm get that frickin avocado! Its your body and you choose what to do with it.

But before you walk into your local tattoo shop, follow these steps to prepare! It may save you from regret in the future.

Research The most important thing before your tattoo is research. Look up reviews for the shops in your area then check out their instagram. Find some styles you like and see which artist is tagged, then check out their instagram! The goal is to find an artist whose style is similar to yours so you can design your perfect tattoo together. Finally go to each shop and get estimates (tattoo shops can’t make price estimates or appointments over the phone, it has to be in person). Figure out which one is the best deal and set it up! (Don’t forget to tip).

Designing Once you pick your artist, they’ll help you come up with something totally original!. If you can’t draw, describe to them what you want with reference pictures and carefully chosen words and they can sketch it out. Don’t be afraid to make changes and ask lots of questions. The artist won’t be offended, this is going on your body and they want you to love it.

Think carefully about the size and placement. If it’s your first tattoo, get something small on a fleshy part of your body like your forearm, that way if you really can’t deal with the pain you don’t have to live with an unfinished tattoo.

Prepare for the pain Look, tattoos hurt. Certain areas hurt more like ribs, pulse points, feet/ankles, etc. Everyone reacts differently, personally I prefer getting a tattoo to getting my teeth cleaned. I tend to dissociate from the pain and then I just really want to nap, others really feel it though. If your tattoo is bigger, it will take longer and hurt more near the end. 

The pain is totally bearable if you prepare for it though! 1) Take pain-killer 30 minutes before your appointment. 2) EAT, you can pass out during your appointment on an empty stomach and your artist will refuse to go on. 3) bring water to sip on while you sit! 4) make conversation with your artist to pass the time and distract from the pain (chances are they’re pretty interesting) 5) bring a friend who can drive you home, carry your bag if you need it and take a picture of this exciting moment!

Getting a new tattoo, especially your first, is super exciting! But it shouldn’t be an impulsive decision.

Figure out what you want and who to get it from. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and speak up when something isn’t how you want it. This is your body art and should get it knowing you will love it forever.

Tess Ware

C Mich '21

Hi, my name is Tess and I’m a double major in Journalism and Women and Gender studies at Central Michigan University. Planning to become a media writer after I graduate. I want to empower people through my writing and hope to someday write a book on the intersection of Feminism and Paganism. I’m a huge crafter, I love knitting and altering clothes I find at thrift stores. I listen to a lot of audiobooks in my free time. I’m really excited to be co-campus correspondent and Editor-in-Chief for HerCampus-CMich and continue to develop my voice, writing and leadership skills.
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