Uncommon Tips for Your Next Tattoo

Tattoos. Your mom hates them, we love them. Well, most of them.

Getting a tattoo feels amazing, but often stress can get in the way of enjoying the actual event…especially if it’s your first time. Within seconds of a quick Google search, you can find an endless supply of lists of what to do,what not to do, what risks are involved, tattoo horror stories and more.

Sit down. Take a breath. Maybe it’s time we add some tips to that list that can help reduce the stress.

GO BY YOURSELF

Whenever I’ve gone for a tattoo, I’ve always had someone else along for the ride. And frankly, while having someone there can be great for a first time tatt—especially if you’re nervous to take the plunge—company can quickly become a nuisance for several reasons. For example,

  1. If you’re like me and become standoffish when confronted with unwanted conversation, having extraverted friends around can quickly have you itching to get out of the chair. Going by yourself ensures that you can chat with the artist when you want and appreciate the Pearl Jam when you don’t. You can always fill your friends in the next time you grab coffee and show off the finished product—which is much more fun.

  2. Unwanted commentary. Yes, that needle is actually going in my skin! Wow! I had no idea. But doesn’t it hurt? Pull up a chair and find out.

  3. Every time I’ve brought someone to a tattoo appointment, they end up making the appointment all about themselves! I support your desire to get a tattoo—I do. But if you want to have a tattoo consultation, book one by yourself. I’d rather not have the artist who’s permanently inking me envisioning another work in their head as they do so.

  4. The walk. There’s no confidence better than that of walking outside, freshly inked. If you were looking for further reasons to call yourself a work of art, baby, you got it. You know how hot you are…just don’t let anyone ruin that moment by saying something like how cold it is outside.

DRAW IT ON WITH SHARPIE

I always know exactly what tattoo I want, where I want it and what its significance is to me before I make the appointment. It just seems like common sense. Yet without fail, a sudden flood of worry always emerges a couple of nights before getting inked (thanks anxiety).

A good solution to silencing your worrying—wait, will you even LIKE what gets inked?—is to draw it on your skin with Sharpie. Yep, even in the middle of your literary criticism lecture. Every time I’ve done this, as shaky as my attempt at linework is, I end up staring at my skin in giddy amazement. That’s my hand!

It feels good, and more importantly, it feels RIGHT. If it doesn’t? Maybe cancel that appointment.

HAVE FUN WITH IT

There’s such a sense of seriousness attached to tattooing. We get it, they’re permanent. You think they’re unprofessional. They’ll fade. We’re going to get wrinkly and mess up the linework.  Chances are if you’re in the shop, you’ve already said screw it to the stigma and to your well-meaning grandparents…dozens of times. And you will again.

So why not take advantage of the studio’s chill space? Make some bad tattoo related puns. Talk about how much you love your artist’s piercings. And hey, if you’re going to have to spread out on the table to get that skin accessible for the needle, stretch into a couple of poses to lighten the mood—if you’re up for it.

PICK AN ARTIST YOU CAN BE FRIENDS WITH

When booking a tattoo appointment, it’s a good idea to have done your research. What are the sanitation standards? What styles do the shop artists specialize in? Where is that artist you like even located? Standard stuff.

One thing I’ve noticed almost no one considers is their compatibility with their artist, which seems odd. After all, depending how big or detailed your tattoo will be, you could be with them for a while. When you go for your consultation, see what vibes you get. Is this someone you want to see again? Be around for a couple hours? Discuss Radiohead with? Long story short, if your artist isn’t someone you’d want to hang out with, the actual appointment could get awkward or uncomfortable real fast. And no matter how much you love that tattoo, you’re not going to want to go back and spend more time with someone you’re merely existing in a room with.

TAKE SOME TIME TO MEDITATE

If you’re in the chair for a while, chances are, you and the artist won’t be talking the whole time—especially if they’re focusing on inking in some intricate detail. Why not take the opportunity to relax? Especially with school, work and social media, it’s likely you’re just a walking ball of stress.

I know what you’re thinking: couldn’t I just go on my phone? I can’t meditate. Surprise! Neither can I for the most part.

Don’t focus on clearing your mind and finding some space to disappear into up there. I don’t know who came up with that, but I’ve found it to be near impossible. Try finding something to focus on—the sensation of the needle’s rhythm, or the constant sound of the tattoo gun. Sounds close enough to a binaural beat for me!

Trust me; once you sink into it, the time will fly, and you’ll be back out in the world before you know it—your body feeling slightly sore, but much more at ease.

FINALLY, IF YOU INSIST ON BRINGING FRIENDS, MAKE SURE THEY'RE WILLING TO HELP YOU STAY FED AND HYDRATED

Sometimes it’s a spur of the moment walk-in while you’re downtown. Maybe you’re the kind of person who’d rather have a friend with you if you’re a bit nervous. I won’t judge.

Either way, it’s always important to stay hydrated, especially during and after your tattoo—it helps with the healing process. Not to mention you’ll most likely get a bit hungry during longer sessions. Whether getting your man to hold out a Strawberry Acai Refresher for you or your friend picking up a bagel from the cafe across the street, sometimes a little something to snack on can make the appointment much more comfortable.

That content feeling that comes with admiring your new ink doesn’t have to start when you walk out of the shop. Find what makes you comfortable and don’t settle for less. It’s your skin and your time. You might as well enjoy it.

 

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