The idea of getting your first tattoo can be very exciting. They can be amazing works of art. They can tell the story of your life. They can be an extension of your personality and ideals and everything you hold dear. Plus, they are just awesome. But, unfortunately, they can also represent a very bad decision made in the heat of the moment. A tattoo isn’t something you rush into getting. It’s going to be permanent piece of you, so it’s very important to make absolutely certain that you know and understand what you are getting before you the artist you choose makes the first mark.
Do You Really Want That Tattoo?
There are several questions you must ask yourself before getting inked.
What is your motivation for getting a tattoo in the first place? If you can’t give a complete answer beyond “it’s cool” or “because I want one” within a few seconds, it probably is a good idea idea to slam on the brakes. Sit down and think about why you are really wanting to do this, then do nothing for three months. If at the end of three months you still feel strongly about it, go ahead and get a tattoo. But if you are still unable to come up with anything beyond a cursory argument, or worse if you’ve forgotten about wanting a tattoo in the meantime, you’ve dodged a bullet.
Ask yourself if you are prepared to face any backlash from getting a tattoo. Do you know for certain how your friends and family would react to a tattoo? Do you know for certain how your employer would react to you getting a tattoo, or if such a tattoo would negatively affect your career? While you might see a tattoo as progressive or a deeply personal symbol, there is still a stigma attached to them and those who have them, especially in business settings. You might be required to wear a high-collared or long-sleeved shirt to cover up. If that’s the case, is it still worth it to spend the time and money to get a tattoo that very few people will see?
Ask yourself where you see yourself in 20 or 50 years. While a tattoo might be a great idea for you now, what happens in the future when you have kids or grandkids? Will a quote or other pop culture reference still make sense and be relevant in the future? What about skin sagging or weight gain causing a tattoo to become deformed? Will you need to explain why grandpa has a tattoo of a naked lady on his forearm or why grandma has something that somewhat resembles Tinkerbell on her back?
A poll conducted by Harris Interactive in January 2012 reported that of the tens of millions of Americans who have a tattoo, more than 1 in 8 (14%) regret ever having work done. The most common reasons, among those with regret, were that they were too young or they just no longer like the tattoo. And while you may love the idea of getting a tattoo, there are still many people who don’t have a favorable opinion. Nearly half of respondents, 45%, say people with tattoos are less attractive than those without, 27% believe those with tattoos are less intelligent, and 25% think that tattoos make a person less healthy and less spiritual.
Choosing the Right Artist
You took your time and are absolutely positive that you want a tattoo. Great. The next step is to contain your enthusiasm for just a little bit longer until you find the right tattoo artist. With something as important and permanent as ink, you certainly do not want to commit to the first parlor you come across. There are a few ways to evaluate the quality of an artist’s work.
First and foremost, the most obvious way to guage an artist’s talent is too look at their past work. While looking at flashes and sketches is a good start, you won’t truly know how good a person is until you see examples of final work. They might be great with a pencil and paper, but working with needles on skin is a completely different skillset. Make sure to see examples of final finished pieces.
If you have a vague idea in mind for the artwork you want done, have the artist sketch some things out for you and make sure you are both on the same page. If you find a great design online, print it out and bring it to them, then watch as they reproduce it themselves on paper before ever considering them to commit it to your skin.
Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Past clients are great resources and can tell you things that only they know – like the artist’s demeanor during the process, how rough or gentle they were, how many sessions were involved and how long they took, as well as if there were any delays in scheduling to have the work done.
And finally, shop around on price, but don’t go necessarily go to the cheapest place you find. A low price may indicate a great deal, but it might also be indicative of lower quality. Likewise, the highest priced place may not necessarily be the most talented. Price comparisons should give you an idea of what price ranges are reasonable for the amount of work you want done, but ultimately you should go with whoever makes you the most comfortable and who gives you
the greatest confidence in their ability.
Go Get Inked!
So now that you’ve made sure you are ready to get a tattoo, know where you want it to be placed, know what style of design you want it to have, talked to several tattoo artists, and have made a final decision… go get inked, and welcome to the club!