If you’re thinking about getting your first tattoo, or you’re fairly new to the whole game, I wanted to share some of my tips for how to prepare, to make sure you’re happy with the final result.
Obviously, it goes without saying that I am not a professional tattoo artist, but I’ve had quite a few done since I got my very first tattoo for my 18th birthday. I always knew I wanted tattoos after growing up around people who had them, and well, the desire has never gone away!
Today, I have somewhere in the region of 30 – 40 tattoos and I have learned a couple of things along the way that have helped to inform my future choices, so I hope this blog will give you a little bit of guidance – but remember, always speak to your tattoo artist if you have any questions or concerns.
Research on Instagram and studio websites
Instagram is a great tool for finding out about new tattoo artists all over the world, discovering new styles that you like and getting inspiration for designs. Some of my favourites include: Jelle, Hannah, Joe, Debbie and Dan.
If you’re not certain about exactly what you’d like your tattoo to be, the colours you want or who you’d like to do it, then I recommend having a browse on IG. You can search for tattoo studios near to you and get some ideas for what you’d like your own tattoo to look like. Some people will share their flash designs online as well so you might spot something ready made that you love.
Researching will help you to get an understanding of how professional a studio and artist is – it should always be a spotlessly clean place and you’re looking for great quality tattoos!
Look at fresh and healed tattoos
A great way to tell how good a tattoo artist is, is to look at pictures of both fresh and healed tattoos. Although the fresh tattoos might look amazing, you want to make sure that they typically heal really well – not patchy or infected!
I usually look at the artists’ Instagram feed but then also look at the images they are tagged in. People often tag tattoo artists in images of their healed tattoos so you can see how good they look years after the healing process is completed.
Think about the position
Tattoo artists are pretty good at helping you figure out what looks right – they’ll consider how a tattoo will wrap and whether there’s enough space for potential future tattoos. But, you might want to think about whether you’ll get tattoos next to or near that tattoo in the future.
How you position your first couple of tattoos will go on to dictate the kind of space you have available in the future so it’s better to think about it when you get started.
Consider a style you like
Style, at least to me, is incredibly important. I have decided to stick with the traditional style of tattoos (I love bold lines and colours) – although it didn’t start out that way!
My second tattoo was a simple black design that – it would later turn out – wasn’t very in-keeping with the rest of my tattoos and just didn’t suit what I wanted any more, so I later had it covered up.
Whether you’re planning to get loads, or just one or two, it’s important to consider whether you’d like to stick to one particular style or you’re happy to mix and match. You don’t want to end up wishing you’d thought about it earlier.
Decide on colour vs. no colour
Similar to deciding on your style, you might want to think about whether you’d like to have all colour or just black tattoos. Again, you can always mix and match but it might be a bit more difficult to change your mind later down the line!
For example, I have decided to have red as a key colour running through the majority of the tattoos on my legs because I like that consistency – but, of course, you don’t have to do that. However, it’s a good idea to think about whether you’d prefer a particular colour palette, or whether you’re happy to have a mixture.
Stick to your aftercare
After choosing an artist you trust, aftercare is one of the most important things.
Once the tattoo is done, it’s in your hands to keep it looking as good as possible, for as long as possible.
Your tattoo artist will give you specific advice – but the standard advice is to always keep your new piece clean, avoid fragranced body wash, use a thin layer of some type of cream to help it heal (I always use Bepanthen), don’t scratch it and don’t soak it under water!
Keep your tattoos happy once they are healed by regularly moisturising them.
If you know people with tattoos (and particularly ones that you like) then ask for their recommendations. They may be able to suggest artists who work well with particular styles, or reputable tattoo studios for you to take a look at.
Recommendations are a great way to find tattoo studios and artists that you can trust to do a good job.
Ask the tattoo artist for advice
If you’re not sure about any part of the process, don’t be afraid to ask the tattoo artist. It’s really important that you’re happy with the design, placement and quality of the tattoo.
They should be happy to explain what will happen or what they’re doing. Your research should hopefully lead you to choosing someone that you trust – but you can still ask questions or request changes if you’re uncertain.
Tattoos aren’t exactly a walk in the park – but some will hurt more than others. My best advice for getting through any pain is to focus on your breath and count through the pain.
From my bony ankle, to my stomach, to my ribs – focusing on my breath kept me powering through. And remember, it’s always worth it in the end!
If you’re getting your first, or a new tattoo, I hope these tips have helped to make you feel happy and comfortable with your decision.
Let me know if you have any general questions about tattoos and I’d be happy to share what I know or recommend artists!