With tattoos becoming much more mainstream and culturally accepted, there is certainly a rise in folks itching to get inked for the first time. Tattoos are no longer reserved for the “rebels and outlaws” – it’s an art form that is open to anyone and everyone.
It’s important to remember that tattooing is an art form rich in history and tradition. It deserves respect and should be treated as such. If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo because it’s “trendy” and “fashionable,” then you’re coming at it with the wrong mindset.
Remember: A tattoo is permanent.
So before jumping on the tattoo bandwagon, take some time to think about the who, what and why behind getting your first tattoo.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH
Maybe you’ve scrolled Pinterest for a couple of days (or weeks) and you’ve got a pretty good idea of the kind of tattoo you’d like to get. The first step into making it happen is to find the right tattoo artist. Most tattoo artist specialize in a certain style of tattooing, so if your design is more neo-traditional with colour work, it doesn’t help to go to an artist who specializes in illustrative stick-and-poke designs.
Keep in mind that more experienced artists may charge more, but it’ll be worth it in the long run. Veteran artists usually work quicker, meaning a less painful experience. After all, you want your first tattoo experience to be a memorable one, in a good way!
DISCUSS YOUR IDEAS WITH YOUR ARTIST
If possible, try to have a chat with your artist before your appointment to show them your ideas and ask any questions you may have. Knowing what to expect will help ease any nerves you may have, and your artist will be able to give you some advice on what will/won’t work in terms of your piece.
You may have your mind set on a certain design in a certain area, but the artist always knows best. Be open to changes and suggestions so that you end up with a piece that makes you happy.
MAYBE NO FACE TATS (FOR NOW)
No, there’s nothing wrong with face tattoos. There is no judgement here. But it may look a little strange if you have no other tattoos on your body. You do you, but most tattoo artists recommend starting in your more common areas, such as arms and chest. From there, you can continue adding as your heart desires.
EAT YOUR BREAKFAST
You’re going to bleed. It’s going to hurt. Make sure your blood sugar levels are up so that you don’t faint on the tattoo bed. It’s pretty straightforward.
DON’T PARTY THE NIGHT BEFORE
Firstly, getting a tattoo with a hangover just sounds like the most awful experience. Secondly, alcohol thins your blood, which means you’ll bleed more and your tattoo might not heal properly. Also avoid painkillers with blood-thinners in, like aspirin. If you’re worried about the pain, speak to your artist about possibly using a topical numbing cream.
The process doesn’t end when the tattoo is finished. It is extremely important to take care of your piece after your session. Ask your tattoo artist what they recommend for tattoo aftercare products. It’s important to keep the piece clean as it is essentially an open wound. Gently rinse your piece 2-3 times a day with cold water and odourless soap. Don’t scrub and avoid fragranced products. Keep it cling-wrapped for at least 24-48 hours after your session, replacing the cling-wrap after each wash. Wear loose clothing and allow your tattoo to breath, and keep it moisturized with a water-based, fragrance-free lotion.
Your tattoo might develop scabs or itch – don’t scratch at it! Keep your tattoo out of the sun until it is completely healed, and always remember to use sunscreen on your tats on those summer days spent outdoors.