Getting a tattoo can be scary, especially if you don’t know anyone who you can ask for some advice. This was my case when I turned 18 and was planning my first tattoo. I tried to do a lot of research, but I mostly was on my own when it came to booking my appointment, picking an artist, and picking the design. I was terrified because I didn’t know how much it would hurt, if it would turn out the way I wanted, or if I’d even be able to make it through the appointment. It didn’t help that my family doesn’t like tattoos very much and was pleading I wait to get one. But I was determined. I got the tattoo regardless of my fears, and I have learned a lot in the process
There were two main issues I encountered when doing research and preparing to get a tattoo. The first was that I was intimidated by the artists, the shops, and the overall process. Many tattoo artists are men and covered in ink, but these artists are not as scary as they appear. We tend to judge people with tattoos and other body mods harsher than we should, and this results in us fearing them or assuming the worst of them, when they are human just like you and I. If you are getting a tattoo in a more private area, just know that tattoo artists are professionals and they are not interested in peeking at you; they are focused on their work and giving you the best tattoo they can. That being said, the person getting a tattoo should feel comfortable and you should make sure that you can trust the person inking your skin. Check portfolios, have a session before the actual tattoo, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! My artist back home in San Diego is named Fernando and he is covered head to toe in tattoos and has a full beard down to his chest. I was already nervous for my first tattoo but after meeting him I was even more so. Then, after talking with him for a few minutes, he really helped calm me down and made sure to explain the process and make me feel as comfortable as possible. Now, when I go to the shop, we crack jokes and tell fun stories. So, do not be intimidated to go to a shop, and if the vibes feel off you’re always free to leave.
The second issue I encountered was that I grew up in a household that viewed tattoos as trashy and not appealing. No one in my immediate family has a tattoo, so when I told them I wanted one, they almost fainted. Of course they tried to be supportive, but they had their biases in the back of their head which made it very difficult. The stereotype that people with tattoos are “trashy” and “distasteful” IS NOT TRUE. Of course it depends on your ink, but tattoos can be quite beautiful and a great way to express yourself. There are countless self love tattoos, tattoos to remember family members, and ones to keep in touch with lifelong friends. Each of my tattoos has a very special meaning to me, whether for my family, for my heritage, or my volunteer work, each of them represent an extension of myself. So don’t be discouraged about your tattoos because of what others think, embrace yourself. If you will feel confident, beautiful, or empowered with tattoos, then get those tattoos!