You’re getting your first tattoo and you’re excited, but you don’t know if you need to do anything beforehand. Trust me, I’ve been there and I’m here to simplify it for you. When I got my first one, I did tons of research into the tattoo shop and design, which is important, but there are a few other things I think I should mention.
*Try to book a consultation with the shop.
Not all shops allow it, but it’s worth a try to set up a consultation before you do it. You meet with your artist and talk face-to-face about your design to make sure you’re on the same page. Gaining trust in your artist is a huge bonus and will ultimately get you more excited. It also allows you to see how clean the shop is.
*Show reference pictures to your artist.
Even if you can’t get a consultation in advance, bring reference pictures. Do not expect them to know exactly what you want based on a spoken concept unless you really trust that artist. Tell them what you like and don’t like about each reference, they will find it helpful while they draw out your stencil. That being said, when they leave to start drawing, trust the process. They know what looks best on skin and they will do what they believe is best, if you don’t have confidence in them, then maybe go to a different shop.
There’s nothing wrong with telling the artist if they got it wrong (politely); just thank them and pay the deposit. It’s better to pay the small deposit and try again somewhere else instead of getting it, paying for all of it, and not being satisfied. Remember, a tattoo is permanent!
*Stay calm and healthy.
Get plenty of sleep the night before and rest your body. Your body is going to go through so much during the actual tattooing so giving it some rest is important. Don’t drink alcohol around two days before your tattoo, it thins your blood and makes it harder for the artist to follow the stencil. Yes, that’s the scientific reason not to drink and get tattoos, but don’t get a drunk tattoo either! Drink water and eat a filling meal as it lessens the chance of fatigue during the session.
*Don’t try to haggle over the final price.
This is another reason to try to have a consultation with your artist beforehand. This is people’s income. They need to make money and they know how to price their work. The price shouldn’t be a complete shocker, but expect to pay for a good quality tattoo by a good artist in a clean shop.
*Know that you’re probably going to get addicted to tattoos.
Considering I got my first tattoo at the age 16 and I told my mom back then that it would be my only tattoo, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Now at age 19, I have six and that number is only going up! They say, “your body is a temple, why would you do that?” Well, I’ve never been in a temple without art.
By Abra Richardson, Freshman, Columbia College Chicago