It would be a bit of an understatement to say that tattoos are a commitment.
Whether you want a tattoo to affirm your love for someone or something, or whether it’s just the artistic, aesthetic aspect of them that attracts you, Luke Hawkins has got some tips for you...
DO: Get thinking
Research different tattoo studios and check out artists’ previous work.
There are plenty of people who will happily walk into a tattoo place and get something done there and then.
This is usually either because they are already covered and are just looking for filler material or because they genuinely don’t care about the quality or meaning behind it.
There are also the odd occasions where people will genuinely fall in love with some design in a book or on the wall there and then.
The vast majority of artists can be trusted to do a good job of any little tattoo from their own book.
But if you’re heading for your first tattoo, no matter the size or design, it’s going to be a bigger step and make more of a statement than most others things you will do.
Put in the research to make sure your first experience is a good one.
DO: Get quoted
I don’t mean get quotes tattooed onto your chest. Or face. (Some Post Malone lyrics that you find particularly deep might not age all that well.)
I mean get at least a couple of prices from different places. This could save you a wad of cash.
Of course, don’t compromise on quality just to save a few quid. Most shops and artists are easy to contact directly through Facebook and most are fairly quick to respond.
This makes comparing prices easy and can help make your mind up about who you are going to go for.
Be polite to anyone you do get in contact with and whoever you don’t choose you can simply say you’ve changed your mind.
Unless you’re the haggling type, in which case you might be able to drive the price down. This may not always lead to a positive response.
DO: Get collaborating
To ensure you get a tattoo you absolutely love, you need to be able to communicate the idea in your head to your tattoo artist.
The best way to do this is to send numerous reference pictures for them to work from.
These can be good quality photographs of the thing you want tattooed or of separate elements you want included within the design; pictures of similar tattoos will also be of great help.
Unless you know for sure that you are excellent at drawing and design, then I don’t recommend designing your own tattoo no matter how simple.
When your artist shows you what they’ve come up with when you arrive, don’t be afraid to ask for some changes.
An overhaul of the design isn’t really possible without having to reschedule the appointment which just reiterates the importance of communicating your idea effectively through description and reference images.
DO: Get stylish
Of course the actual design is what will become most important but take a look at different styles of tattoos: Old school, traditional, nautical, Japanese, minimalist, watercolour, and dotwork amongst others.
There is a huge number of styles that are worth checking out and this can help you tie in any other tattoos you may decide to get later.
That’s not to say if your tattoo falls into one style then you need to stick with that style forevermore.
When looking at different styles and designs you’ll figure out which ones could possibly complement each other.
And that’s not all you’ll learn. Finding out about the origins and evolution of styles can turn out to be pretty interesting.
Stick-and-poke dotwork for example is a traditional tattooing method particularly popular in south pacific islands. And also prison.
You might stumble across a style you like so much that you rethink how you want your new piece to look.
DON’T: Get drunk
Alcohol can compromise your judgment when it comes to a lot of things. For example, everything.
And that includes tattoos. If you’re drunk and you book an appointment you will probably end up backtracking and cancelling anyway.
If you’re drunk when you actually get a tattoo then there is a good chance you’ll regret it, and this mistake is slightly harder to backtrack on.
It isn’t just poor decision making that makes the involvement of alcohol a bad idea.
Alcohol thins out your blood so there is a good chance you will be making your tattoo artist’s job a lot harder and maybe even a little messier.
It can also make the initial healing process a little more difficult.
Basically, if you want to make sure there is no chance of you leaving the place looking like someone from the Saw movies then don’t drink.
DO: Get social
If you’re looking for inspiration, then social media – Instagram in particular – has countless pages and tags dedicated to tattoos.
As well artists’ own pages, there are pages dedicated to specific styles and trends.
It is worthwhile following some local artists. This way you can really see how good their work is and what they specialise in.
Another perk is that every now and then artists will run competitions where you can get discounts just by liking or sharing their posts.
Seeing different artists from around the world can not only be fascinating but can also help you end up with a design that is more eclectic and original than it otherwise would have been.
The key, as with any use of social media, is not to get sucked into it. If you do find inspiration online then have a good, long think about it before you go ahead and get it inked onto yourself permanently.
Try and recognise what are fads and fashions and what are genuinely great pieces of work.
DON’T: Get a fad tatt
Don’t get something that’s a fad
Normally describing something as fashionable is a compliment but not necessarily in the case of tattoos.
Fashions come and go, tattoos are forever.
Some ironic tattoo about how much you love chicken nuggets or avocados might seem cute and quirky just now, but man will that be a regret in no time at all.
Most established styles of tattoos are established because of their timeless qualities.
Having said that, there are some styles that have suffered and are considered by many to be outdated (that’s right, calligraphy and tribal).
Getting something personal along with some timeless embellishments is a good way to stay clear of any fads while still achieving an original design that means something to you.
DON’T: Get a facial tattoo
I know this advice is usually given by a disapproving uncle figure who talks about job prospects and things.
But more and more companies and industries are becoming more accepting of tattoos.
One reason it might not be a great idea to get them on your face or hands is that these areas don’t seem to take ink on as well as other parts of your body.
Hands in particular can be tricky, and the pieces can end up looking pretty faded pretty quickly; the decrease in popularity of “love” and “hate” tattooed on fingers is testament of this.
DON’T: Get amateur
We’ve all seen the pictures. There are some real horrors out there.
Bad portrait tattoos are the most obviously terrible but even simple minimalist tattoos can look pretty horrendous if not done by an experienced hand; uneven lines, asymmetry, faintness and a generally crappy look can all be expected.
And those are just the superficial drawbacks. The worse the tattoo artist the more painful it will be.
Getting a tattoo can be virtually painless if done by a good artist (although positioning and size also have a lot to do with this so if you do feel some pain in the process then don’t worry about it, it’s normal).
Not to mention that you don’t know how good a standard their kit is. Or how clean it is.
There could be some pretty horrendous consequences if you pick up a nasty infection.
Just go with the pros.
by Luke Hawkins