Tips On Getting Your First Tattoo From A Tattoo Enthusiast

So, you may not believe this, but I have six tattoos. That’s right six tattoos. Four of them I have gotten within the past year so you could say I’m slightly addicted to them. I got my first tattoo when I was seventeen, my second one when I was eighteen, then went a little tattoo crazy when I was nineteen. I did promise my mom that my sixth one would be my last, but that’s most likely not going to stay true for a very long time; I’m already planning my seventh. Shhhh don’t tell her!


Anyways, I would consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to the process of getting tattoos, so I’m here to help you through it from deciding what to get and what to do when the actual day comes. 


My personal preference is to get tattoos with meaning; every single tattoo I have means something to me. I wanted to make sure I never looked back on one of my tattoos in a few years and would regret it. So, when it comes to deciding what you want to get I recommend putting some thought into it. Don’t just wake up one day and walk into a tattoo shop and pick something off of the wall. Even if there’s little meaning behind it and you just like the design. Just make sure you think about what you want to get and don’t just wake up one day and run out to get one. I also recommend you start small… you don’t want to get some massive piece for your first tattoo. Larger pieces can take hours and getting a tattoo can be nerve-wracking so you want to start small then if you want more you can get bigger ones over time. Also, take time to think about placement. If you plan to have a job where tattoos shouldn’t show don’t forget to take that into consideration. Placement can also determine how much the process will hurt. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, so pain-wise the tattoos I have that hurt the most are on my ankles. My friend and I both have tattoos on our ribs and both agree that placement really doesn’t hurt as much as people say. From my own experiences and from going to get tattoos with my friends the most painful locations are the ankles and shoulder blades. 


The next most important part of the tattoo process is where to go. Before getting my first tattoo I did heaps of research into what places in New Jersey are the best to go to. Do not pick your place based on pricing. If you want a quality piece, it will cost more. I saw the same artist for three of my tattoos, but he moved to a shop in Soho, New York, so I started going to a different artist. The first two places I went to both had very friendly staff and were noticeably sterile and clean. I went to Pure Ink, which has multiple locations: I went to the one in Ledgewood, NJ and the one in Boonton, NJ. The third shop I went to, following my first artist, was Bella Arte in Fairfield, NJ. But, since he moved to New York I now see Molly at Tattoo 46 in Dover, NJ. She’s very skilled at doing small delicate pieces, which is what I prefer. That’s another thing, don’t just research the place for cleanliness and good reviews, pick the artist based on how they’re trained and what they specialize in. Also, feel free to visit some shops just to make sure it is the place you want to go to.


So, once you have your design picked and the shop/artist picked, all you have to do is book the appointment. Once the actual day comes around it is perfectly normal to feel nervous. I have six tattoos and still get nervous when I go to get one. You want to make sure to eat and drink water beforehand; definitely avoid alcohol the night before and day off. Do not take any painkillers or blood thinners: More blood makes it more difficult to tattoo. If you’re getting a tattoo that will take a few hours, pack a snack and phone charger. Be sure to have cash ready for a tip; tattoo artists’ main income is tips so don’t be stingy in this area; I typically tip 20% when I get a tattoo. Lastly, just wear deodorant. Don’t douse yourself in perfume because that may make your artist uncomfortable. 


Other than having a needle injected into your skin, the entire process is pretty painless. Your artist will greet you and bring you to their room. They’ll have stencils printed up for you and do not be afraid to ask them to make changes to the size or placement. Remember, this is going to be on your body forever so make sure you’re totally satisfied. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for your artist’s recommendations on design, size, or placement; that’s a major part of their job and they’re there to help you. Once your stencil is on, which is basically a temporary tattoo version of your design to help guide your artist, they will sterilize everything and begin. 


None of my tattoos have taken more than twenty minutes, but when it’s being done I usually just talk to my artist about the job or whatever. If you need a break while they are working because it hurts that’s okay, they understand. Some tattoos require you to be in some uncomfortable positions, so if you need to stretch or adjust they will understand. Once the tattoo is all done they’ll wipe it down and give you a second to take a picture if you want. They’ll then wrap it up, give an ointment, and care instructions. Be sure to follow these instructions exactly to avoid an infection. If you got a thinner style tattoo it may fade or just not look right after a couple days because it is so thin. Most places will offer free touch-ups, so if you aren’t happy just call and they will happily let you come back to fix your ink. The entire tattoo healing time can take up to six months but it only takes about 2-3 weeks of following the care instructions. 


I hope all of this helped you guys figure out what to do about getting your first tattoo. It’s not something you want to do on a whim because it may have hurt to get but will hurt even more to remove.