Tattoos tell a story even if you didn’t intend for them to. There is a story behind why you got a particular piece, where you were, how much you have grown since getting it. For me, my tattoos chronicle my 20s. I was so naive when I got my first one and I wish I had a guiding hand (I got my first one when I was 21, before the rise of Google.) Luckily for me, I had found an artist with whom I could mesh well and he gave me some amazing art that I am still proud to wear.
So since I didn’t have a helping hand, I’m here to be yours. Here are 10 things I wish I had known before getting my first tattoo.
1. You get what you pay for- I’m not saying all cheap tattoos are bad but the majority are. If someone is offering a $5 tattoo expect it to look like a $5 tattoo. For a decent tattoo, expect to pay about $100/hour.
2. All artists are not created equal- Make sure to really peruse artist portfolios and find an artist whose style you mesh with before deciding on an artist. For example, if you want a highly detailed, amazing floral tattoo, don’t go to someone that specializes in bio-mechanical tattoos. I’m not saying that they can’t do florals but it’s better to find someone who loves doing floral tattoos.
3. Don’t get your design off of Pinterest-Pinterest is a good place to get a general idea but most of the tattoos there have been done to death. If you are looking for something unique, try working on a design yourself or with an artistic friend, and collaborating with the tattoo artist.
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate- This is permanent. Make sure you are open and really communicate with your artist about what you want. For example, all of mine are done by the same artist except for two and he pretty much knows what I want and how I want it. However, my third tattoo was done by someone else while I was on vacation and I didn’t clearly communicate how I wanted it and now I’m stuck with an ok tattoo instead of a great tattoo.
5. Be open minded- While you and your artist are designing your unique piece, be open to their ideas about what will look good. Allowing your artist’s creative input will let him/her create something beautiful for you.
6. If the shop doesn’t smell like a doctor’s office, run- Run as fast as you can. I’m not kidding. Tattoos are open wounds that are easily prone to infection. Most reputable shops take cleanliness very seriously and are very sterile. On that note, never, ever, ever get a tattoo out of someone’s house. Even if it’s your best friend, just don’t do it. The risk of infection is infinitely higher and there is no way to keep a home environment sterile enough.
7. Not all artists carry vegan ink- Some inks may contain animal products. If this is a concern for you, discuss the possibility of only using vegan inks in your tattoos.
8. You need to tip your artist- And well. This person survives mostly off of tips just like servers and hairstylists. Their fee covers booth rental, supplies, labor and the other miscellaneous costs of creating body art. Their tips feed them and pay their bills.
9. Make sure you really love your design before you get started– Tattoo removal is expensive and extremely painful. It can also be very difficult to do cover-ups. It’s better to really know that this is right for you instead of regretting it down the road.
10. IT WILL HURT– True, some areas of the body will hurt more than others. I’ve heard the rib cage and feet are the most painful (I haven’t touched those areas yet.) My wrist and elbow were the most painful for me. Really, my best description for how it feels is that it feels like a cat scratching a sunburn.
Do you have any tattoos? How do you feel about them? Please share!
Also see: Why Most Tattoos are Not Vegan
Also by Krystle: Refreshing Vegan Watermelon “Feta” Salad
Photo: K. Troia-Alvarado