8 Things You Need to Know Before You Get A Tattoo
So, you want to join the edgy, artsy revolution and get some ink. You want to wear your passions, interests, and beliefs on your wrist, literally. Well, that’s all well and fun, but it involves a needle painfully being injected into your skin…
And the only way to get it off, is to laser burn it all off painfully. And it isn’t cheap. So, you need to be absolutely sure that
1) you want a tattoo, and
2) that the tattoo you choose will be relevant years down the road (it’s basically on there for life).
Here are 8 things you need to know before you get a tattoo:
#1 There Is Such A Thing As A Bad Tattoo Artist/Shop
This is true, and it’s because some artists have more experience than others. Those who apprenticed in the 1980’s and struggled through the 1990’s to get decent work, are now well-established. Those just starting out, or those who started a decade ago won’t be nearly as good.
Then there’s the fact that individual skill varies. Some people are naturally gifted, others take more practice to get there.
If you go to a shop and sit with an apprentice, they need to tell you. If you’re not sure, you need to ask. If the artist seems fidgety or nervous to start, or doesn’t place the stencil where you want it, you need to stop right away and call in someone who knows what they’re doing.
#2 It Hurts, But It Depends On Location
Certain tattoos hurt more than others, but it has nothing to do with the tattoo itself, it has to do with the location. Thigh tattoos hurt less because there’s more fat there to absorb that pain. But neck tattoos take some courage, because your veins are right there. There’s less fat to shield you. Same with the wrist and feet.
So, if you’re going for a big piece, opt for your back, thigh, or arm. Especially if you’re sensitive to pain. Otherwise, you’re in for a terrible time.
#3 There Is Ink And Then There’s Vegan Ink
That’s right, tattoo ink isn’t vegan, although it can be. Each tattoo shop typically gets a few types, but you would need to call and ask if they carry any vegan options. If so, when you schedule your appointment, you need to let them know, and then triple check once you actually sit in their chair.
Regular ink has bone char, glycerin from animal fat, gelatin from hooves, and shellac from beetles. Vegan ink brands include Eternal, Star Brite, SkinCandy, and Stable Color. After your ink, try The Merry Hempsters Vegan Hemp Tattoo Balm to keep it healing nicely.
#4 You Always Need to Tip The Artist
Think of it like tipping a hairdresser, or tipping your waiter. You always, always, always tip the tattoo artist. These people have to give “the house” (the parlor) a fee, sometimes even a daily one, to use the needles, the ink, the equipment in general. And it adds up. So all that tip money doesn’t really get pocketed, it goes to keep the parlor afloat.
If you want to be average, tip 15% of the price of the tattoo. If you want to tip exceptionally, tip 25%. Especially if the tattoo artist invested time and effort into an original sketch just for you, going through the trouble of creating a stencil and everything.
But plan on 10% being the least you can tip. And preferably just for a small tattoo.
#5 You Will Need Retouches
As the years go on, your tattoo will start to essentially fade. This comes with exposure to the sun, the harsh weather elements, and just skin in general. Skin does a great job of healing over long stretches of time, and remember, tattoos are basically just pretty scars. They lighten over a few years.
So, you need to get it retouched every 3 years or so, but it all depends on your tattoo. If it looks good in 2 years, leave it and wait another year. If it looks faded 2 years in, get it retouched.
This means if you have several tattoos, you’re looking at quite the expense. You’d have to keep them up, all of them, and be careful not to do them all at once.
#6 Artists Have Different Styles
Some really have more of an old school flair, others are very much known for their use of clean lines, others opt for more ornate, etc. Some are known for portraits and shading more than anything.
In other words, when you look into a tattoo shop, you need to look at their reputation and reviews, then consider each artist there. Who has the style you’re going for, and who doesn’t? Find your best match, and check out the skill level in their portfolios. If it’s not up to par, move along to another tattoo parlor.
#7 Tattoos Are Still A Taboo In the Workplace, Depending On Where You Work
If you work corporate, say in the Midwest, you better cover up your tattoos. If you’re a guy, expect to wear a suit and tie. If you’re a woman, you’re going to need a blazer or cardigan.
But if you work in corporate in the West Coast, or even certain areas in the East Coast, you can get away with full sleeves (tattoos all the way up and down your arms).
It’s all about culture. In the West Coast, like California, Oregon and Washington, they’re lenient with tattoos, because they see them everywhere. And not only that, they see all sorts of crazy things just walking down the street. The Midwest is a lot more conservative and traditional, mainly because it’s older people, and less of a younger crowd.
#8 The Best Tattoos Are About You, Not Someone Else, Especially A Partner
Because your tattoos will be there forever, until the day you die, you need to be sure it’s what you want on your body. And as amazing as your partner or friend may be, people are generally unreliable.
One day you may have a best friend. The next, you and your friend grew apart. And partners? You wed hoping to be married for the rest of your lives, but there is no guarantee. It takes two to make it work. And if one of you stops trying and falls out of love, then there goes the marriage.
So, do yourself a favor and get a tattoo about you. Anything that really embodies you as a person right now, and moving forward. Mark a special, memorable accomplishment. Celebrate a new beginning, something that always reminds you that new beginnings are only a decision away.
Whatever you do, select something that won’t ever become toxic to look down at.