How to Get over Tattoo Anxiety

There’s a certain stress level that we all must overcome when dealing with the idea of something permanent. It makes sense in a constantly changing world that something that lasts forever would make a person slightly apprehensive and when it comes to tattoos that anxiety is well put.

What if it doesn’t look good? What if they mess up? What if next year you don’t like it? What will my parents think? There are so many questions that can rattle around until again, you put off making the idea a reality. I got my first tattoo when I was 18, and while I was still nervous (it’s okay to be) I followed some simple ways into getting over that first time under the needle.

First, and possibly the most important step, is to find the artist you like and feel comfortable with. When I first had my tattoo idea, I immediately took to the best visual method of searching for an artist’s portfolio - Instagram. It started with simple tag searches of things like ‘#floridatattoo’ and suddenly there were so many styles and personalities all in one. Don’t get too caught up in finding someone quickly, it’s perfectly okay to take a month or two on this step. Normally an artist will have their website in their bio so you can check out if they have rules for their tattoo shop, rates and reviews of previous clients. It can make it all a bit less stressful and it won’t seem as big of a world once you figure the styles that you like and pick a top three for artists that you’d like to meet or even set a consultation with.

 

Courtesy: Healthline

Once you’ve found an artist, next comes setting up a consultation, which is the first time you meet up with the artist. During this period, it is best to think up various questions you may have, print out your reference images and to get a feel for their personality. One of the most important parts of feeling comfortable through this process is having an artist who knows what they are doing and are friendly with their clients. If an artist makes you uncomfortable with sizing, color or even placement it is okay that you are weighing out other artists. Something to never do is question the price of a tattoo or the hourly rates that they work at. Most artists rent space from a shop, meaning that the rates are set by the owners and on top of that it is considered rude to question an artist and how they see the worth of their art. A good question that you can ask your prospective artist is how they deal with cleaning their equipment, which makes the whole situation much easier to swallow when they show great care in keeping their workplaces sterile with their equipment cleaned using autoclaves or steam sterilization. With a consultation comes a deposit which is later put to the total price and only used for insurance as a placeholder for your appointment date.

Courtesy: Bustle

 

The period leading up to the appointment date is probably the most anxiety-inducing, whether it be from nerves, excitement or a mix of the two. Many artists doing custom pieces at this time will not send a picture to you of what they are working on. Don’t worry, they don’t hate you, but many artists have been burned with clients who steal their designs and find a cheaper method of getting it. If you are lucky enough to live close to your studio you can usually stop inside after asking and see it in person. That’s not to say some artists don’t mind sending pictures, it all just depends on each person. The waiting period is also a time to reflect on your tattoo. It’s okay to question your want for it, as our culture still has a stigma on body art and in some backgrounds, you may even feel the need for a ‘deeper meaning’ behind your ink. Just remember that there doesn’t need to be a deeper thought process behind it, but sometimes for a first tattoo people want a reason to justify it. It can be as simple as “I like dogs” that leads you to get one on your arm. Tattoos have spent too long under a critical eye, and it’s time to allow the beauty of the art to show off for admiration rather than indignation.

Courtesy: Tattoodo

 

When the day comes, it is normal to be a bundle of energy when you walk in and greet the artist. Anticipation is the highest it can be, but it’s still important to remember a few ways to help you stay calm as the artist prepares the stencil, needles and ink. It’s a good idea to bring a friend or two, but no more than that, since an artist’s studio usually isn’t that big. Plus, with too many people you can distract yourself from staying still distract your artist from doing their job. There also seems to be an idea that once a stencil is laid that you’re already locked into what you have. This is not true. If something looks off, or you just don’t enjoy the way it lays on your skin, tell your artist. They will be happy to adjust and fix it as you want- they know better than anyone how nervous first-time clients can get. Once that is all set up, just take a deep breath. It may hurt, but the levels of pain depend on where you get it and for how long you’re sitting in the chair getting the ink laid. If you have a fear of the pain, go for areas that have more muscle and fat like outer arms and the outer thigh. It helps to stray away from places close to the bone, such as hands, wrists and feet. You can always ask for a break if it becomes too much, just make sure to vocalize it.

When it’s all done, make sure to follow precisely how the artist says you should be caring for it whether they want you to wrap it or leave it moisturized. The most important thing to remember is to kindly tip your artist. An artist normally must pay their rate to the shop, so if you use credit or debit it takes a lot longer for them to get their tips back and it can be a disappointment when they were hoping to walk out with some money for their work that day.

Of course, even after you have the ink, there may be some periods of wondering if you made the right decision, but if you give yourself time through the entire process, you’ll love your new addition. Like anything new, it takes time to adjust but it can be fun once it’s healed to touch it and to understand how a piece of timeless art is now a part of you.

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