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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SDSU chapter.

Tattoos are an amazing means of expression that can hold a lot of symbolism and meaning. Or, they can simply be unique pieces of art to commemorate on skin. Whether you’re one or the other, you’ll have to spend some time preparing for your tattoo. Taking the time to think about designs and look through artists helps ensure that your tattoo will be as beautiful as you imagine! Here are a few tattoo tips to keep in mind when getting your first bit of ink: 

1. Art style & quality matter

There are all sorts of tattoo art styles: fine line, traditional, anime/manga, just to name a few. And, they are all beautiful in their own way. However, when it comes to picking a skilled artist, you want to be sure that they can accomplish what you want. Take a look at their flashes (flashes are set designs that are typically reusable, not to be confused with a custom) and past work! 

Decide from there if this is an artist you want a design from. It may take a while, but having an artist whose work you admire and really enjoy will pay off in so many ways. It’s all about building that trust between the artist and you so that your body art meets your expectations! Instagram is a very helpful place to research. Try filtering with hashtags such as #[Your area]tattoos or #[Your area]fineline. You also may want to check out Google/Yelp reviews on the studio to see if the place is up to par with cleanliness. 

2. stick & poke or machine?

Stick and poke and machine are similar methods of tattooing, differing by device and speed. Stick and poke is exactly how it sounds: “a method of tattooing in which the artist uses a needle dipped in ink to prick dots of pigment into the skin, one at a time”.  A machine tattoo is the mechanical version of a stick and poke. 

What differentiates the two is that stick and poke tends to have a much softer, deliberate look. It is also said that stick and poke tattoos hurt less, too. Machine tattoos can distribute ink into the skin a lot faster which can make the design a lot more saturated and the process more efficient. Since one of these methods may suit you or your tattoo design better than the other, it’s important to know the difference between the two before you go in! An artist should specify if they specialize in one or the other, or both. 

3. know & respect the artist

When you get to the final stages of booking an appointment, always remember to respect the artists’ policies and limits! These restrictions are set to maintain a safe environment for you and them So, whether it’s a set Covid-19 policy or a deposit you may need to put down, be kind about it. Most are welcoming as is but clients should also do their best to make the artist feel respected. And, if your artist has an Instagram or social media presence, check their highlights or website for a FAQ/about me section. That also can help with familiarizing yourself with your artist! 

4. day of the tattoo: things to know

On the day of your appointment or walk-in, try to allot a majority of your day to the tattoo. Some artists may take a lot more time than you expect, so come prepared! Make sure to keep water with you and some snacks in case you get hungry. It may help to also have a friend tag along for the process. 

This is also the time to revise. The artist should advise with sizing, placement, and tweaks to the design (if you want). This is your time to make any adjustments. After that, get comfy and let the artist do their thing! Depending on how large the piece is, you may have breaks to eat or use the bathroom. Good luck! 

Thank you so much for tuning into this article! Send us some of your neat tattoo designs/stories to our Instagram for a chance to be spotlighted. And as always, stay safe and healthy!

Hello! I'm Kaela. I am a current freshman at San Diego State, majoring in Journalism with an emphasis in Advertising. I have always loved writing and hope to pursue it further with Her Campus. A little bit about me is that I love Taylor Swift, boba, and reading!