I got a tattoo from Katie Mena @sun.agave and here's my experience.
For about two years I have been designing, thinking about and redesigning a tattoo that I've been wanting to get. During that time, I really struggled with getting something that really represented what I wanted as far as style goes. A little over a year into the process I found a tattoo artist in Las Cruces via @visitlascruces Instagram and knew that she was the one I wanted to do this tattoo. The only problem was I wasn't in Las Cruces and wouldn't be for about 8 months. So I held off contacting her thinking I might find an artist I liked better. Needless to say, I followed Katie on Instagram and just fell completely in love with her art.
Fast forward 8 months and I finally worked up the courage to contact her through Instagram. I did this before she declared that she was going to be doing all of her work scheduling through email from them on. Right away I liked her. She sent me her prices and I was able to schedule an appointment, it was about a 2 months away but I was willing to wait and it made more sense to do it then anyway. I told her she had artistic freedom, that I wanted her style and her to be just as proud of the work as I was. We set up a consultation that would occur a week before the actual tattoo and she informed me that she would be sending her design to me ahead of time for me to approve.
Woah! This was an exciting piece of information. I had gotten a tattoo before and the artist didn't get me her design until the minute I walked into the shop. It felt rushed and I didn't feel like I had enough time to mull over the design and be truly happy with it. So when Katie told me she would be getting the design to me more than a week before the actual appointment, gave me a tremendous amount of peace of mind. She also assured me that we could change the design a little up to the actual appointment.
A few days before the consultation she sent me her design. I almost cried I loved it so much. There was one detail I wasn't a fan of however. The flower was something I had trouble with. As it was a flower often found in my home, the desert, I wasn't a fan of it. Compositionally, I loved it though. So after some thought and asking around I came up with the idea of putting the icon of Las Cruces, The Organ Mountains. She loved the idea and returned the revised piece to me within a day. Which I loved even more. All I had to say was, "yaaaaaaaaaaasssssssss!" followed by a couple emojis.
My first digital impression of Katie was amazing. She had dealt with the project professionally and produced exactly what I was looking for. Now it came time to actually meet her. I showed up to the consultation early which gave me the opportunity to watch her clean her workspace after tattooing. My first in person impression of her was also amazing. She showed me the design, and her process and then we talked about size and placement. We were both equally excited for the next time we met for the actual tattoo. I was glad that she was able to give me options on placement rather than just slapping it on somewhere on my back and calling it good. She was extremely excited that I wanted it centrally placed. She explained to me that this was due to the composition of the piece and how well it worked centrally rather than off to the side somewhere. Which I completely agreed with. I was happy to be working with someone who was clearly an artist and thought of literally everything in terms of aesthetic. Come the day before the appointment, she even reached out and texted me to remind me of my appointment which was super amazing
The day of the tattoo I walked in and Katie and I took our time with making sure I was happy with the placement and took extra time even more me to move around to see how well centered the piece was on my back. Setting up took about an hour, which I appreciated because it gave me time to do more checks in the mirror to make sure I liked the placement. I watched her as she made sure everything was sanitary and wrapped in plastic, rubbed down with alcohol etc. When it finally came time to lay down and have her work I had calmed down considerably which was a blessing. I had gotten a tattoo before, two years ago, and I knew what it felt like but I still had some nerves. She talked me through the whole process and always let me know before she started again on my back, as the view I had was of her feet. The rest of the time it took, nearly two hours, we talked about various things and gave each other random tidbits of advice. Getting a tattoo from Katie was kind of therapeutic, I relaxed and tensed up a lot which loosened my muscles and we were able to talk freely about things we enjoy and discover some things in common between us.
When you get a tattoo, you put a lot of trust in your artist, especially when you can’t see what they’re doing. Katie made me feel very relaxed, and despite her having less experience than a lot of tattoo artists, she was very trustworthy. She has an amazing portfolio and I am so happy to have a piece of her art on my back! I love the piece so much and I can’t help but twist around in the mirror to take another glance at it every time I even walk by the bathroom.
Some things to consider if you want to get a tattoo.
Think about it for a long time, think about what you want, placement and even if it’s right for you.
How is your pain tolerance?
Are you patient?
Have a design picked out? Put it away for a few months and take another look, Do you still like it?
Pick an artist whose style you really like. Have them design your piece for you, just give them a good starting point. They are professional artists and the tattoo will come out a lot better if it's in their own personal style.
Don’t be afraid to ask your artist questions about the process, their style and what ingredients are used in the products they have.
This is something that will be on your body for the rest of your life, and you’re paying a lot of money for it. Take as much time as you need to come to a decision. If you decide not to get a tattoo after all, then that’s okay.
When you contact your artist, be considerate and only do so during reasonable hours, typically just normal business hours. Give them time to get back to you, they're busy people.
Don’t argue or barter for the price. You’re paying them for more than the time it takes to apply the tattoo.
After applying make sure you have the means to take care of it, the tattoo is an open wound. Keep the sun off of it, don’t submerge it in water for a long time. Clean it with warm soap and water. If it’s hurting you try tea tree oil, it smells nice and soothes pain and itching. Make sure the moisturizer has been approved by your artist. Try what they recommend. Follow the directions they give you, to ensure healthy healing.