So, you're going to get a tattoo? | Tattoo advice for newbies, my experiences & my latest addition
I very much wear my heart on my sleeve, but I also wear my heart on my skin too. I have tattoos, all of which hold great meaning for me, and truly represent who I am. I have 5 so far, since turning 18 a little over a year ago. Each tattoo has been a different experience, so I thought I would share those experiences, in the hope of helping anyone who is thinking about getting their first, or maybe second or third, tattoo. Tattoo experiences vary due to the artist, the placement, the size etc, so I hope there is something for everyone in this post, due to the fact I would say I have a variation of all of the above.
I am going to split this post into 3 sections. Before getting a tattoo, the day of your tattoo, and the aftercare process. I have actually done a video about my tattoos (it was filmed before my most recent one) so if you want to watch a tattoo tour, you can do here.
BEFORE GETTING A TATTOO.
My first tip would 100% be to sit on a tattoo idea for a *long* while. This glorious piece of art is going to be on your body for as long as you live (unless you get it removed, but anyway), so by considering a design for an extended period, it will make sure that you won't go off it. All of my tattoos have been thought about for at least a couple of months, if not longer. Excluding my "kind of" spontaneous one - I thought about that one for a couple of weeks, lol.
If it's your first tattoo, I would recommend getting a small one to start off. This will allow you to get familiar with what the needle feels like, and the whole process of what it is like to actually have a tattoo. I don't just mean the pain, the aftercare, I also mean the feeling of just having something permanent on your body. It is an adjustment. My first two tattoos were small and painless, and if I had gotten my third, rather large tattoo first, I would have probably been put off due to how much it hurt me.
"WHAT DOES IT MEAN THOUGH?" is probably a question all us with a tattoo have heard at least once. In my case, all of my tattoos do have a significant meaning, but this isn't the same for everyone. It doesn't matter if your tattoo has meaning or not. However, I would say it can help, as then you can't really go off it if it holds some significance for you. For example, I doubt I will ever go off my recently added floral tattoo, as it represents all the beautiful women who at some point have blessed my life. I am never going to hate that. Either way, just make sure you really love the tat you're gonna get, whether it has some deeper meaning or not. Just really love it.
DO NOT COPY SOMEONE ELSE'S TATTOO (or concept). Firstly, I just don't think it is right to straight up copy someone else's tattoo. They probably got their piece custom designed, and want it to be unique. All of my tattoos have been custom designed for me (my smallest two are more generic but that is just the nature of them so it doesn't matter as much). A *good* artist is unlikely to do the work anyway, as they prefer to have their own style/take on your idea. Every *good* artist will happily take inspiration from other artists, but will never straight up copy someone else's work.
This one may sound obvious but just know your pain tolerance. If you can't hack a lot of pain, don't get a big, intricate, and therefore painful, tattoo. Or at least start small like I said earlier. I have been told I sit really well (hair swish) and I believe this is because I have a decent pain tolerance, I can withstand tattoo pain for sure.
Probably the most important thing to do when considering getting a tattoo and booking in for one is to research your artist and take a look at A LOT of their work. Ask to see a portfolio if they don't have one on their website or on their instagram, and study their style/technique. Looking at lots of different pieces will be really beneficial as it will give you a good overview, and you'll be able to imagine what a piece like yours will look like. A lot of tattooists have a preference to what they tattoo, or something they specialise in. Some will be better at florals, some better at script. Know their preference and go to someone who is good at the thing you want doing.
COST. This is such a big one. Most people will ask about the cost in their first enquiry. I always say with tattoos - you get what you pay for. If it is cheap, you're gonna have a cheap tattoo. I don't mind paying more for a reliable and skilled artist. I have been at both ends of the pay spectrum and I would always say save up extra money and go for that more prestigious place. It's a frigging tattoo. It's permanent.
Something you can do before getting a tattoo is draw it on yourself. This will allow you to get used to the placement, and see what the tattoo would look like on. If you're particularly unsure about where you want the piece, this is a handy tip. This is also extra handy if you are concerned about how visible a tattoo is and whether it will be able to be covered if needed. There's endless debate about tattoos in the work place, and even though I have my own opinion about it, just be mindful that there could be potential issues. With my chosen career, I don't see this being a huge problem, and at present, most of my tattoos are covered and my small ones that are on show aren't hugely noticeable.
I would also recommend talking to people who have tattoos, as everyone can offer some advice and insight. Count this post as one of your people haha, and my Instagram dm's are always open if you want to chat more. Talk to others in your life, learn about their experiences. My brother has a sleeve so he knows a fair bit about tattoos, and my mum has a few tats herself too.
THE DAY OF YOUR TATTOO.
As somewhat previously mentioned, don't act on impulse. Drunken and spontaneous tattoos are the most regretted and I personally don't think it is worth it. A lot of people will spontaneously (and often drunkenly) get a tattoo whilst abroad, and not only do they end up regretting it, they can end up infected as they more than likely won't have checked out the place before, and the shop may not be sanitary, the needles may not be new, etc. A lot of places abroad won't have the same health and safety standards as the UK, so this is something to be aware of as well.
Okay, so now you've followed all of my previous advice and you have planned your tattoo throughly, looked into the shop/artist, asked people for advice... time for the actual day. I would say if it is your first tattoo especially, take someone with you! Company certainly can put you at ease.
EAT. Make sure you eat a substantial meal before you get inked. Getting inked on an empty stomach is not fun and is not recommended. A lot of places will ask you if you've eaten before. Sometimes people can experience lightheadedness due to the pain of tattooing, hence why it is recommended to eat beforehand.
DRINK. As above. Also make sure you drink throughout, asking to take breaks to quench your thirst if necessary. I always have a Powerade/Gatorade on me when getting tattooed, they are the easiest way to stay hydrated and they give you energy too, which is perfect if you're sat for a long time.
Just to reiterate, if it seems too good to be true cost wise, it probably is!!!
My most important piece of advice in terms of on the day is BE VOCAL. If you don't like something, ask to change it. Even if it's a design or a placement change, the artist won't mind and at the end of the day, it will be on YOU forever. On the other hand, the artist does know best. It is their industry so if they say something won't work, it won't. They are the professional, trust that.
THE AFTERCARE PROCESS.
Buy some good aftercare products. The artist may recommend some at the studio, such as a balm or lotion, but there are also products that you can get on the high street. I have used a balm from a studio before, Aquafor, and I am currently using coconut oil on my most recent addition. Please look after your tattoo well, to help healing and prevent damage.
Just so you know, your tattoo is going to look different at all the different stages of the healing process, so expect this. It won't always look shiny and brand new, but in my opinion, that's the beauty of tattoos. Further down the line, don't be afraid of going back for touch ups. Most artists offer touch ups of your tattoo for free (or at no extra cost, obviously you've already paid for the piece).
I hope you have found all of that information helpful. I am now going to answer a couple of questions I got asked on Instagram.
Q. Where do you get them done?
A. All of my tattoos (except the first two, I got them together) have been done at different places. My first two were done at Holy Ghost Collective in Rotherham by Matt Renshaw. My third tattoo was done at Dame of the West tattoo in Scottsdale, Arizona (USA) by Paul Ski. My fourth was done at Octopus Tattoo in Derby by Leigh Boardman. My fifth was done at The Needle and Ink in Penistone by Emma Simms.
Q. What is the aftercare process like?
A. As well as what I spoke about above, the aftercare process can also be confusing as you have to deal with redness, potential bruising (I experienced this after the really painful one on my ribs) and of course peeling/flaking/dry skin. Just make sure you are moisturising, being careful with that area (no harsh products etc) and watch out for infection!
Q. What is your favourite tattoo?
A, My most recent one :) I am actually obsessed! I will post pictures of all my tattoos below in the order I got them.
Q. What tattoos do you want next?
A. I am looking to get another one on my other ankle/lower leg soon, a matching one with my best friend and a matching one with my mum. NO SPOILERS!
Those are all the questions I am going to answer as I believe I have covered the rest. Now onto my tattoos!
As I mentioned earlier, I have done a whole video about my first four tattoos. If you missed the link, it's here. I won't go into detail about each one here because if you are interested you can just watch the video. My latest one (the bottom pic) is my favourite, as I mentioned previously. It was just pure love from the get go. It didn't actually hurt that much and the whole experience was so pleasant.
I hope this blog post has been useful, I know it has been mammoth. It has taken me forever to put together!
Bye for now,