A lot of people have tattoos for different reasons. Whether it’s because they think they look cool, or as a dedication to something important to them, there is a fascination with tattoos in our culture. They symbolize rebelliousness and commitment.
A few months ago, I got my first tattoo at The Butcher on Bay Street in Savannah. In this article, I would like to share my experience, and in the process, debunk some myths about the procedure.
Since going to Thailand with my family in December 2015, I had really wanted a tattoo of an elephant. For me, that trip was such an amazing, eye-opening experience, and an elephant tattoo was the perfect way to commemorate it.
In January, I finally decided that this year would be the best time to get it done, just before I turn 20. I began researching tattoo studios in the area, and was instantly intrigued by The Butcher. I was captivated by their work because they customize all of their designs, and each artists has their own unique style. I was interested in Jimmy Butcher’s artistic style in particular.
Photo Above: Jimmy Butcher's Instagram (@thebutcherbrand)
I made an appointment for a consultation with my artist of choice, Jimmy, to discuss my idea and how I wanted the tattoo to look. I showed him a few examples of what I was thinking about, and the posture I wanted the elephant in. As a result, he found pictures of real elephants from the internet, which he would use as a reference to create his design.
When the day finally came to get the tattoo, I was incredibly excited, but also nervous. For one thing, I wouldn’t be able to see the design until I got there, which made me a little anxious. I was also concerned about how much it would hurt. I had heard horror stories of how painful it was, to the point that some people would pass out! Luckily, I brought my friend with me for support, and to document the event.
When I arrived at the studio, my fears were put to rest. The Butcher’s atmosphere was welcoming and comfortable, as everyone working there was very nice and laid-back. Once I saw the finished design, I couldn’t wait to get it! The idea of getting a tattoo (and then ACTUALLY getting it) gave me this intense adrenaline rush, like going on a rollercoaster. It made me realize why people never get just ONE tattoo. It’s really an addictive feeling.
NOW, my words of wisdom for anyone interested in getting a tattoo would be:
1. If You Want A Good Tattoo Experience, Be Willing To Pay A Little Extra
In the case of tattoos and artists, you definitely get what you pay for. Although The Butcher is one of the more expensive studios in Savannah, it was worth it to me. I knew they could create a unique design, that would replicate what I had in mind. I wanted something customized just for me, and not just something copied from another source. Not to mention, the more skilled your tattoo artist is, the better your design will come out.
Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that you will have this tattoo on your body for the rest of your life. You can’t put a price tag on that.
2. It Won’t Hurt As Bad As You Think
But of course, it depends on where on your body you get it. The bonier the spot is, or the more sensitive nerves are in that area, the more it’s gonna hurt. Knowing this, I chose to put mine on my lower hip.
Everyone also has different levels of pain tolerance, but generally, getting a tattoo doesn’t hurt that badly. It’s definitely uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t describe it as terribly painful. Personally, I feel that getting stitches hurts more than getting a tattoo.
That being said, don’t let the fear of pain deter you from getting a tattoo that you really want.
As nerve-racking as it can be, just try to relax, and don’t focus on how uncomfortable it is. If it will make you feel better, bring a friend with you to distract you.
3. Choose The Placement Of Your Tattoo Carefully
And not just because of pain. This ties back into the whole “having it on your body for the rest of your life” thing. When you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, you should ask yourself:
“Do I want to put it in a place where it’s visible to everyone?” (arm, wrist, etc)
When you get a tattoo in one of those areas, you run into the risk of people asking you about your tattoo, even if you don’t want them to. Also, because tattoos are still considered “taboo”, there’s a chance some people might make false judgements about you because of it. With that in mind, you might want to brainstorm different ways you can cover it up for particular situations (job interview, family reunion, etc).
This scenario doesn’t apply to everyone, but it is something to consider.
For instance, for me personally, I thought my lower hip would be a good place, because it’s easy to cover up when I need to, but if I want to show it to someone, I can do so easily.
So, would I get another tattoo? Definitely! If done well, tattoos can be a beautiful form of expression, and aren’t something to be frowned upon.
Every tattoo is unique because people have them for their own reasons. They represent how we each come from different places, and have our own individual experiences and passions. Considering life is constantly changing and nothing lasts forever, the idea that you will have a tattoo your whole life is kind of comforting.