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What You Should Know Before Getting a Tattoo

After six tattoos, including one coverup, I may not be an expert on tattoos; however, my experiences have taught me a lot about tattooing and what mistakes not to make again. Here are some tips for anyone looking to get their first or another one of many beautiful pieces of art inked on them.


After you determine the perfect tattoo for you and the right placement, the next most important thing is to find an artist that excels in the style of tattooing you’re interested in. Find reputable studios near you, look at their artists Instagram or online portfolios. Even if you’re just planning on getting script this is so important. My worst tattoo that required covering, ended up looking like “Auntie” instead of “Amitié'' (the French translation of Amity) because of the artists bold and surprisingly painful tattooing style due to his heavy hand. A tattoo that initially cost $40 ended up costing me about $650 to fix. Coverups are expensive and painful, but not nearly as expensive and painful as removing a tattoo. So, be sure to remember that even the smallest of tattoos require a talented hand that beholds the tattooing style you’re looking for.

Moisturize the area before and after your tattoo 

It’s important to exfoliate and moisturize the area you plan to get your tattoo at least two weeks prior to your appointment. The area must also be free of any hair, so you may shave beforehand; however, if you cut yourself or get razor burn that will create more problems in the end. Your tattoo artist will also shave the area, so it is best that you allow them to do so. After your tattoo is complete and the saran wrap or “second skin” is taken off following the time your tattoo artist recommends you must moisturize the tattoo. Make sure to follow their instructions for what product is best to use. I often use Vaseline for the initial healing process then after I begin to use Aveeno moisturizer. The most important thing is that you do not use any scented products when moisturizing or washing the area.

Set a budget 

It is always a good idea to have a budget in mind for the tattoo you desire and to save up beforehand, including a proper tip. Pricing will depend on the shop’s hourly rate which may also vary by artist.


Tattoos are inarguably painful, the best thing I can compare it to is a cat digging its claws into your skin and dragging it through. That does sound more painful than I find it to be. Pain will depend on you personally and your pain tolerance. My sister and I got our first tattoos together, they were in the same location (ribs) and the same design (two realistic flowers); however, the experience was more painful for her than for me. Many say that the ribs or any bony area are the most painful to get tattooed, but I have realized that fleshier areas such as my forearm, which is where I got my coverup done, are more painful than bony areas.

Find your voice

Your tattoo artist may know more about the tattooing process than you, but you must remember that only you know what you’re comfortable with. If you don’t like the tattoo design the artist presents you with, let them know. It’s okay to ask for changes to be made when it comes to design, placement, etc. Towards the beginning of my tattooing adventures, I was not very confident or comfortable with speaking up for what I wanted which led to my bad tattoo and almost allowing it to be covered by something even worse. Remind yourself that tattoos are permanent and that even though it is the artist’s work, it is your body. Speak up for yourself and what you want to make sure the experience and finished product is exactly what you want!

The day of 

On the day of your appointment, be sure to hydrate and eat a proper meal. Do not drink any alcoholic beverages and limit your caffeine. A cup of coffee should be okay but avoiding energy drinks is a good idea. Cleanse the area before and wear loose dark clothing to the appointment to ensure comfort as well as so the area can breathe, and the ink does not stain your clothes. If it is a long appointment, bring a snack, water, and something to distract yourself. A book or headphones to listen to music or a favorite movie (I watched the Twilight movies during my longest appointment) are good ideas.

Tattoos are addicting

Once you get your first tattoo, there’s no going back. And yes, I mean that in the sense that they are permanent, but I also mean that you will want so many more tattoos soon after. You may become more impulsive with getting tattooed, I know I did which is how my “Auntie” tattoo ended up on my forearm. It’s okay to be impulsive under the right circumstances; make sure you will still like the tattoo in five or even twenty-five years and again, be sure to go to a good studio and artist. Lastly, it may become important to begin to plan out placement well in advance so that one tattoo is not placed where another tattoo you want might be better suited for.


One last thing, don’t let anyone stop you from getting a tattoo you’ve been dreaming about and remember your tattoos are a piece of art that add to your beauty and uniqueness no matter the opinions of others.


Melissa is a Junior at Emmanuel College majoring in Writing, Editing, and Publishing. She enjoys finding new creative outlets, frequenting local coffee and book shops, and admiring the night sky and rainy weather.
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