What To Think About Before Getting Your First Tattoo

Getting a tattoo can be quite intimidating and confusing, especially if it’s your first one. There’s lots of things to consider, and sometimes you can be unaware of some aspects you wished you knew beforehand. Your tattoo artist will probably mention some of these things, but it’s just handy to know. Here are some things to keep in mind and to think about before getting your first tattoo:

  1. 1. Sleeping Position

    Weird note to start off, but you can’t lean or put too much pressure on your tattoo for the first few days. This means that if you sleep on your belly and want a rib tattoo, just know that you’ll probably have some uncomfortable nights ahead of you. This shouldn’t change where you want your tattoo to be, though. After all, a couple days of discomfort is nothing compared to a lifetime of beautiful body art.

  2. 2. Body Curve

    set of minimalistic tattoos on a person's ribcage

    Tattoo designs are typically drawn two-dimensionally, so they don't take into account how they will look on a non-flat surface. The way your body moves and stretches can modify the way your tattoo looks from different angles, too. You can ask your tattoo artist for advice if you’re unsure of your tattoo placement, since they have more experience and knowledge in this area.

  3. 3. Living Situation

    How well your tattoo will look heavily depends on how well you care for it when it’s healing. The first 2 weeks are especially crucial to do proper and thorough aftercare, or your tattoo won’t look as vibrant. So if you live alone, you might not want to get a tattoo in a hard-to-reach area, like the middle of your back. Otherwise, you might not be able to properly care for it, and your tattoo won’t heal as well as it could have.

  4. 4. Pain Tolerance

    Sometimes big and intricate tattoos take more than one session to complete, and it will hurt more on the second healing day when your skin is already swollen and sensitive. Especially since it’s your first tattoo, you don’t know how the pain might feel and how well you can tolerate it. You should also consider if you want your tattoo to be an outline or filled in. If you’re sensitive to pain, you might not want to get a filled in tattoo right away. 

  5. 5. Colour

    If you’re getting a coloured tattoo, just know that the colour drawn on the picture is not 100% the same as when it’s on your skin. The background of the tattoo design done by the artist is probably paper white, so when the same colour is placed on human skin, it’s bound to show up slightly different. The colour might also fade a little after it’s healed, so that’s another thing to keep in mind.

  6. 6. Tattoo Artist

    tattoo artist at work

    Do. Your. Research. Find trustworthy and reputable tattoo parlours and get a tattoo artist with a decent amount of experience. Your tattoo artist is just as important as the design itself; without a good artist, your visions might not come to life. The parlour and artist should also have good hygienic care, such as sanitizing seats in between customers, changing gloves, and using new needles. Look for artists whose artistic style matches the design you want. You can go through the artist’s Instagram first to see if their work interests you before booking a consultation.

  7. 7. Personal Development

    Your taste might change over time, but that shouldn’t steer you away from getting a tattoo. Recognise that your aesthetic might be different in the future and make peace with it. Even though the design might not be something future you would get, it’s still important as it is  part of what you are.

  8. 8. Upcoming Plans

    If you have a summer vacation coming up soon (although that’s not happening much with the pandemic!), it’s better to schedule your tattoo appointment after the trip. A healing tattoo should stay away from the sun and avoid being soaked in water for long periods of time. Therefore, you might want to have the tattoo appointment after your trip to the beach, or you might end up with a faded and/or infected tattoo.

There’s no harm in spontaneously getting a tattoo done: it’s your body, your choice. At the end of the day, get the design and placement that you truly want if that’s what makes you happiest. However, if you do wish to do some planning ahead of time, I hope that this list can help lessen your worries. And once you’ve got everything figured out, remember to eat before the appointment and remain hydrated during the session!