A (Sassy) Guide for Getting Your First Tattoo

Well hello there my fellow rebel! Obviously you’re here because you want to get some beautiful art permanently placed on your body. Or you THINK you want some.  Or you’re just bored. Either way, welcome to my own little sassy corner of the internet where I will tell you how to go about getting your first tattoo and some general things you need to know. We will be going over A LOT, so grab some chocolate, put on some Fall Out Boy, and get ready for the advice (and blunt sarcasm) of a lifetime!

Disclaimer: Please remember that I am NOT an expert on tattoos. This is just the snark-filled guide I wish I had when I got my first tattoo. It’s also full of my opinions, and if you disagree then that’s totally okay! Nothing I say is gospel, but it is stuff I have found to be true in the situations I have found myself (and my friends) in.

1.“Well what about in 60 years?” “I’ll hopefully have a house full of cats… Oh wait, you’re talking about my tattoos.”

Okay, so we have all heard this. You go to your parents or friends with your desire to get some rad ink on your skin and are met with disbelief and criticism. The most common thing brought up, especially by parents, is the whole “Oh, but what about when you’re older? Your skin won’t be firm forever.”

Well, Dad, lemme’ say one thing.

I mean, seriously, when I am 60 I am going to have problems that are just a little more pressing than what my (still bad ass) tattoos will look like. For instance, fibromyalgia- a bit more concerning than the slowly sagging hearts on my thigh.

2.“Um, you’re never going to get a job.” “Oh, are you the one hiring me?”

So this is a valid concern. Careers and jobs and whatnot are important because money is a thing most people enjoy having (especially after years of being a broke college kid surviving on red bull, ramen, and will power).

But, it’s not as big as a deal as people seem to think it is. Seriously, tattoos can easily be covered with clothing, jewelry, makeup, Band-Aids. Etc. For the most part it’s not that big of a deal.

Now, with that being said, remember that if you get a tattoo in a CLEARLY VISIBLE place than there will be professional consequences. A law firm probably will not hire you if you have three facial tattoos and a butterfly right smack on the back of your hand. They will hire me though, because my side and thigh tattoos cannot be seen when I have clothes on. Booyah.

Just be smart about the placement of your ink. Think about the potential consequences of having a cat tattooed on your forehead instead of on your hip.

But at the end of the day, if your occupation allows you to have tattoos on your hands and whatnot then go ahead. It’s your life.

3.“Ugh, you’re getting that tattoo?” “Uh, yeah. Problem?”

The actual subject matter that you are getting put permanently on your body is something a lot of people will bring up. A lot of tattoos are considered cliché or stupid because a lot of people have them, and the whole point of getting a tattoo is to either memorialize something special or be unique, right?

Wrong.

Who cares if a tattoo is considered cliché? If you like it and want it permanently engraved on your body then get it. And if someone has a problem with it, too bad. 

Want one of those infinity symbols with some word that every white girl in a 20 mile radius has? Cool. GET IT! If YOU want it, then YOU should get it. It doesn’t matter what other people think because, newsflash, it’s not their body.

With all this being said, please don’t get too upset when people criticize your ink. If you post pictures of it or wear something that makes it visible, realize that other people will probably have something negative to say. If it’s valid criticism (“The line work is messy, it’s cliché, the color palette doesn’t make sense, etc.”) then you can politely disagree/ignore it and move on with your life. Don’t get defensive; it’s what they want.

Be careful about cultural appropriation though. That's not too cute. 

To wrap it up, if you want it, get it and let the haters hate.

4.“Hey, I know a guy who tattoos wicked things for only like $50!” “Will he pay for the cover-up I’ll inevitably end up with?”

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS BEAUTIFUL AND HOLY DO NOT DO IT!

If someone tells you that a tattoo is below $100 then walk away because something terriblehorriblewrong bad is going to happen. Trust me.

Unlike brand-name clothing, you actually get what you pay for with tattoos. If the artist knows they’re good, then they’re going to charge accordingly (which they should because talent). If someone offers to do it for either an insanely low price or for free then run away as fast as you can.

Just save up your money and get a kick ass tattoo from a professional. Don’t risk getting a terrible tattoo by an artist who doesn’t know what they’re doing just because you’re cheap.

Because getting the money to either buy medicine for the infection you are sure to get or get that unfortunate ink covered up will cost way more than just doing it right the first time.

Plus laser removals for tattoos? Yeah, you’re going to want to avoid having to get those because they hurt. And tend to cost more than the tattoo itself.

Moral of the story: Just save your money for a good tattoo. It’ll be worth it.

5.“So there’s this shop on main street and so-and-so works there…” “Your point is?”

Choosing the right place to get your tattoo is important. It is also super important to find the right artist. So here are just some general criteria to think about when deciding.

The Shop:

·      Don’t go to the first place you see: Look around to make sure you have explored a variety of options and you can feel more confident about the place you finally settle on.

·      How clean is it: Can you eat off the floors and countertops? I am not joking. If that place is not spotless and professional looking, don’t go there. A tattoo is an open wound and can become easily infected, so you need to go to a place that is as clean and sterile as humanly possible.

Finding an Artist:

·      Look at their artwork: Specifically see if they specialize in the type of tattoo you want (Watercolor, Black and Gray, New School, American Traditional, etc.). If you’re not sure what style you want, look at portfolios to see whose style you prefer. Make sure the artist shows consistently good line work and coloring, for this you’ll need to see a portfolio of tattoos they’ve previously done. You can also look at the skin, since pictures are typically taken right after the tattoo is complete, to see if it looks “beat up.” If an artist has a lot of red, irritated work in their portfolio skip them because they’ll leave you with more scarring than actually ink.

·      Look up reviews: Customers are typically brutally honest, so Google the shop and read the reviews. Specifically see if you can find any about your particular artist. I suggest using Google Reviews or something other than the shop’s websites reviews since the shop owners can filter those and get rid of any negative ones.

·      Meet them in person: This person will be drilling a needle repeatedly into your skin. Needless to say, you’re going to want to trust them and feel comfortable with them. Make friends with your artist!

When it comes to working with your artist please keep in mind that while they are the professionals and will ultimately know what is going to look best on your skin, be sure you are still happy with the final design. This will probably take a lot of compromise on both your parts. Be sure to enter the shop with an open mind so that you don’t get defensive if your artist suggests changing something to make your design look better.

I promise you, your artist doesn’t want to give you a bad tattoo. That reflects really badly on them.

6.“I GOT THE THING!” “SO DID I! LET’S CELEBRATE MY COMRADE!”

Wahoo! Look at you, with your new ink! Do a happy dance before running to the drug store to buy the lotion and soap your artist told you to use for aftercare.

Speaking about aftercare…

DO WHAT YOUR ARTIST SAYS!

Infections are the worst. Bad tattoos are the worst. What could make them even more terrible? When they happen because you neglected to take proper care of your tattoo.

Your artist will give you a pamphlet with instructions regarding aftercare. Follow them.

If something happens and you have questions, instead of consulting a friend or the Internet just call the shop you went to. They are used to people calling, so don’t feel embarrassed, plus they will be the ones most suited to answer any questions you have. Take care of your new ink! Especially since you just dropped $100+ on it.

7.Ending: So what did we learn?

·      Don’t listen to the haters, but take advice into consideration.

·      Keep in mind your future career.

·      Get a tattoo you want, and remember there will always be critics.

·      Don’t be cheap. Period.

·      Go somewhere clean and to someone comfortable and talented.

·      DON'T NEGLECT THE AFTERCARE!

Now my friends. GO FORTH AND GET TATTED!