The Decision Making Process
Remember this is permanent! (I mean kind of… There is laser removal, but that hurts way more and costs a ton!)
Placement is really important. Do you have a career path where you cannot have visible tattoos? Do you plan on having children? (That little heart on your belly can be a huge heart and deformed post baby bump.)
Not every tattoo artist is great at drawing everything. Find a reputable artist that specializes in the art genre you are going with. Just because you really like a certain person and they draw really great flowers does not mean they can do as good of a portrait of your beloved poodle as an artist that specializes in animals and portraits.
You can go old school and flip through an artist’s book at the actual tattoo shop or if you are more tech friendly which I assume you are since you are reading this, you can go to the tattoo shop’s website and browse their artist galleries or find particular artists and follow them on Instagram. I recommend Instagram because there is more of their work to be scene on this platform.
Pre Needle Process
Ask the shop if you can go in for a consultation. Once you have decided which artist you want to do your work, you should meet the artist and show them, in person, the concept that you have for your tattoo. This also allows you to check out the legitimacy of the shop itself. You can see if they are following sterile health standards, if they are carding their patrons and if they are keeping a sober safe environment.
You can also see if your artist is a good fit for you. Depending on the size of your tattoo, you may need to spend a decent amount of time with this person or if you are getting your portrait of Fifi on your booty, you need to feel comfortable with this artist slaving over your trunk for an extended period of time.
Be prepared to pay for your consultation and to possibly have to put money into a down payment.
Find out which forms of payment the shop takes. Many tattoo shops only take cash, so you will want to get an estimate on your piece to ensure you have enough money.
TIP! Cash money! This is very important. You should tip at least 20%. Depending on the amount of time spent, location of the tattoo and any special materials that the artist is using on you (specialty inks, numbing cream, etc.) you may want to tip more than that. Remember this is their artwork they are giving you, they are doing hard work and most pay for their own supplies and a fee for their chair rental.
The Big Day
Before you head into the tattoo shop, make sure you have everything you need. Bring an ID, a bottle of water, some ibuprofen/Tylenol for post-tattoo aches, and of course your method of payment.
Dress appropriately. I am a big fan of layering. Just in case you get too cold or hot. Wear comfortable clothes that are loose and make sense for the location of your tattoo. Do not wear your skinny jeans if you are getting your upper thigh tattooed.
Park somewhere that does not require you to get up and plug a meter. You do not want to interrupt the artist because you have got to add time to your meter.
Sugar! Bring something with you that has sugar/carbs in it. Getting tattooed can result in feeling light headed or nauseous. Sometimes having that little boost of sugar can make all the difference.
Upon arrival, your artist should be showing you their finished sketch. Be honest. If there is something that you do not like or want different, speak now or forever hold your peace. Check spelling!
Next the sketch is going to be printed onto transfer paper and actually put onto your body, so you have the opportunity to make sure you like the placement, feel it is centered (or not!) and the sizing in correct.
At your artist’s station, you should see a very sterile environment. All the needles should be brand new and in the packaging prior to use on your body. The artist should be wearing gloves and you should feel like you are in a really cool hospital setting; great music, artwork, décor and very clean.
Do not jerk. Do not squirm. Do not move around. These things will annoy your artist and could lead to a less than perfect tattoo. Let your artist know if you need a break or feel like you are going to pass out. You will not be the first person to do this, so don’t try to be tough.
Post Painful Experience
Now that you have made it through your first tattoo, listen to your artist. They are going to explain to you how to care for your tattoo and you should follow their instructions even if your bff Stacy told you that she used olive oil on her tattoos and it was the best thing she ever did. Your artist just spent time on making this great piece of artwork on your body, so they know what is best.
Take an ibuprofen or shot of tequila and celebrate! You are now a Tattooed Boss!!!