The day has come where you've finally decided that life's too short and it's time to get your first tattoo. Yes, your mom will hate it, but it's something you have thought about for weeks and nothing will stop you from being one of the cool kids carrying a permanent work of art with your skin as the canvas.
But, do you really know what you're going to do once you actually set foot in the tattoo shop? If not, here's a list of things to remember, the dos and don'ts for a newbie looking to get their first ink. They will make you a great customer, or at least you won't be a pain in the artist's butt.
1. The artist is NOT a mind reader
You now have the perfect design in your head, one that'll earn you some 300 likes from your phony Facebook friends, but some things are getting lost in translation with the artist Well, you better make sure to take your time and explain everything to the last detail; otherwise they'll spit in your general direction. If you're looking to get a personalized tattoo, remember to at least bring something for reference. Of course, you will need some input from the artist themselves, just don't step into the shop saying you want the best ink you can get in your arm.
2. Be patient
Now that you've finally got the perfect design all sorted out with the person that will draw it on you, you have to wait You will wait a lot. "But I'm ready now, I want it, I have the money", you say. Well, so does everyone else who got there first, people that made appointments and all. Remember that good tattoo artists are well renowned (and some are pretty much famous) within the scene, so their schedules are full of clients who are also waiting. Just like you! If you want only the best to touch your skin, you might have to wait for weeks, even months at a time.
Even if you're already at the chair (or table), things are not done 'express'. A tattoo is not a sandwich, so you better bring along a book, your smartphone or something to meditate on.
3. Big tattoos cost big bucks
Screw it, you're going for broke right from the start; that first ink is gonna be Poseidon majestically rising from the dark ocean while destroying a huge fantasy ship, or a complete sleeve with your favorite Smurfs, whatever. You first have to realize that his won't come cheap, not at all. It depends mostly on the size, how detailed the whole thing is, and if it's colored or classy B&W.
These big tattoos, like we said before, are not sandwiches. You have to wait, and it will most likely be done in different sessions with a healing period of 3 weeks between each one, so your design better be worth it. Papa Smurf is a no-brainer, though.
5. Didn't you know? Tattoos hurt. Get ready.
You've heard your whole life. You've asked every one of your friends that already have ink. The answer is yes, tattoos hurt no matter where you get them. Of course, some areas hurt less than other, and your tolerance for pain is a big factor, but the overall "unpleasant" sensation is a constant. Want to be a good customer? Suck it up. You will have that sensation for a while, and it will be awkward for both yourself and the artists if you're squirming every time the needles touch you, and you could even ruin the tattoo.
6. Great tattoos cost great bucks.
You went for that really popular tat artist with a hundred thousand likes on their Facebook page, you brought a detailed design for reference, but then your friend Cheepy tells you about a friend of theirs that can totally do it for half of what you were going to pay, no waiting period. Going for it? Good luck.
Tattoos are generally not cheap, especially if you're going to a professional, experienced artist. That's why you always have to look into who is going to draw on your skin forever. Follow their work on social media if you can, ask people who they've already tattooed, their rates, etc. Material does not come cheap, after all, and you can't really put a price on professionalism, experience and talent.
7. Whatever you do, DO NOT pick on that scab
It's done. You're just out of the shop, your ink is ready, and it's as beautiful as your firstborn (if a little swollen, but babies are swollen too). It's VERY important that you follow your artist's recommendations once you're all wrapped up, because getting a tattoo is eerily similar to being wounded; you'll bleed and scab. DON'T TOUCH IT. If you do, some ink is most likely coming out, and your baby will look, well, ugly.
Just let it heal naturally. There are some ointments and stuff you can use to better take care of it, but the only surefire way of speeding up the recovery process is to just let your body be.
8. Don't bring any family, friends, partners, etc.
Getting a tattoo is a bore for anyone not involved in the process; that is yourself and the artist, so bringing along friends, family or anyone else is an invitation for them to get bored out of their minds while they wait, especially on bigger tattoos. You can call them when the tattoo is a few minutes from being done, or if it's a tiny little thing that won't take longer than an hour, but for them and the artist's sake, don't make them wait out a huge tattoo.
9. Be sure to use the restroom BEFORE you start
No need to explain further.
10. Don't lose sleep on what you're getting done
You've surely spend entire nights trying to find that one perfect design that is 'totally you', or picturing yourself giving long-winded explanation to an unrealistically interested crowd about what your Smurf sleeve means, but that's only stopping you.
The thing is that you don't need the deepest, most meaningful tattoo ever. If you like something, anything, and you want to get it done, go and get it. Who knows, you might get run over tomorrow, or you will maybe lose your future tattoo arm in a freak accident. Who cares about what other people think? Just get a tattoo that you'll enjoy looking at.
Stay connected to San Diego Red through