Getting your first tattoo is a great experience, but it isn’t something that should be rushed into quickly. You must make sure to take time to think about it, since a tattoo is a lifetime commitment. You want to be absolutely certain you are getting a piece that fits into your life. You need to consider how your tattoo will affect your friends’ and family’s perception of you, how it will affect your current job and future job prospects, and most importantly how it will affect you personally.

Body Area

Once you are sure you want to go forward, the next step is to determine the area where your tattoo will be applied. You have many options here, as virtually any part of your body makes a suitable canvas.

Arm tattoos are by far the most popular choice. Here you have several choices – full arm (also known as a sleeve, named for the resemblence to a full-length shirt sleeve), upper half sleeve from shoulder to elbow, lower half sleeve from elbow to wrist, or quarter sleeve from shoulder to mid-upper arm. Larger arm designs usually combine a few thematic elements, while the smaller designs commonly only focus on one thing.

The shoulder area is common location as well, covering the area from the joint to the back shoulder blade.

Back tattoos are for the most bold, since this is where the biggest tattoo can be inked. Any or all of the back is accessible, from the base of your neck to your hips, and around to your side areas under your arms.

The chest is becoming more and more popular as well as people have become more adventurous. Typically a chest tattoo is fairly large and spread across full length from arm to arm, or is smaller and limited to the pectoral area over the heart.

Other body areas like the stomach, legs, neck, and hands are the least common areas to have work done. It is important to realize that a tattoo on any of these parts may be difficult to cover up if necessary.

Choosing A Design

Once a body area and approximate size has been determined, the next step is to find a design. There are several aspects to this, with the most important being subject matter, style, and amount of color. While the final design is up to you, there are several popular and common design styles to consider.

Tribal designs are the among most popular tattoo designs for men. Typically uncolored, these pieces feature thick angular black lines in dramatic patterns representing strength and masculinity. The first tattoos of this type were from Polynesian, Maori, and Aztec tribes and commonly worn by their warriors, although today the style can be worn by anyone.

Crosses and other religious symbols are traditional subjects, as they serve as enduring symbols of hope, faith, love, or emembrance. They are often thought to provide a calming spiritual assurance and a link to divine protection.

Designs celebrating heritage, such a Celtic knots or other Celtic artwork, are symbols representing our ancestry making sure that we never forget our roots. Aesthetically, they are often richly colored and highly detailed.

Skull designs represent the dark side of tattoo culture. They usually signify death and danger and anger and toughness, and evoke stereotypical images of bad dudes in biker gangs.

Tattoos of pin-up girls, those scantily-clad or naked ladies in alluring poses, are often used to represent an appreciation to confident and brash women. These tattoos were first popular among soldiers away at war, reminding them of who was waiting for them back home.

Asian designs, such as Kanji symbols or dragons or koi fish, celebrate the culture and mysticism of the Far East. These designs symbolise guardianship, empowerment, wisdom, and freedom.

Words, such as names, sayings, and quotes are all highly personal designs that have special meaning to the person who will wear the art. They are often meant to bring inspiration, celebrate a life event such as a marriage or the birth of a child, or to honor the memory of a passed love one.

Getting Inked

So now that you’ve made sure you are ready to get a tattoo, know where you want it to be placed, and know what style of design you want it to have, it’s time to go to your chosen tattoo parlor and talk to the artist who will be responsible for adding a permanent and personal piece of art to your body.

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