Getting your first tattoo can be the most important decision you may make regarding your personal aesthetic and the statement it carries to the World. It should not be a rushed decision, nor should it be one made lightly. People that stumble into a tattoo parlor and randomly pick flash off the wall that semi-interests them late at night after a few pints at the local pub, often regret their decision for the rest of their life. The process may not be exactly the same for any two people, but the tips I outline in this article will give you a guideline of things to consider when settling upon your first tattoo design that will lead to you being proud of your artwork whenever you look at it or show it to someone else – even years down the road when you have almost completely forgotten that you even have a tattoo!
The first tip is patience. Do not rush into a design decision. Be sure that the design you settle on meets all of the emotional requirements you will place on your first tattoo. Remember, painful surgery or cover-ups are the only ways to get rid of a tattoo once you have it and both options take a lot of money and thought to implement.
Think of a theme. Here I do not mean that you need one, but you should consider it early if you decide that you do what to embrace a theme. If you get a permanent piece of art that doesn’t fit your theme idea, it will either be out of place on your body in contrast to future tattoos or you are back to cover-ups or surgery. Some people only get one tattoo. That is fine, of course, but most people that get ink once get the fever (like I did) and plan out many return trips to their favorite artist to balance out the tattoos they already have.
Choose your artist well. Be sure to shop around for someone that has consistently great art. All artists will have a portfolio of their own designs and final tattoos in their parlors. If they do not, avoid them!
Talk to other people who have tattoos you admire. The do not have to have tattoo styles or designs that you want yourself, just decent solid art of which they can be proud. Word of mouth recommendations are usually the best for an artist. Things to ask about an artist include cost, cleanliness, and heavy-handedness. Good artists usually charge less for art they like, design, or rarely get a chance with which to work. Once you get a good recommendation, talk to the artist about cost in terms of what they enjoy and their own designs if you do not already have one in mind. Be sure to discuss the health code issues, as different states and countries have different health regulations. Always go to the artist and parlor that adheres to the regulations or exceeds them.
Some artists are more “heavy-handed” than others. This works for and against you. Artists that place the ink deeper into your skin will cause slightly more pain (if you have any pain at all – more on that below), but they will also be giving you a tattoo that will last longer and stay brighter with proper care.
Placement is a major factor. Be thinking about if you want other tattoos and how the one that you ill get first will interact with tattoos you may get later. Certain areas of your body will be much more sensitive than others. This can be an attraction for some as well as a turn of for others. Know you body’s limits and think about where you are going to have your design placed. Test placing is standard. Pay close attention to this step. Don’t let an artist rush you through it (although usually they are quite helpful with this step.) Again, this will be there permanently, so do not take this step lightly.
Make sure you design says something emotionally to you. Do not just get a cartoon or a heart with a name on it on a whim. Take out a piece of paper and write down all of your favorite things, artistic or otherwise, and try to narrow down what you are attached to personally. I am a Tibetan music specialist and I have a love for old bad monster movies and therefore I have a theme of Tibetan art featuring Tibetan mythological creatures, for instance.
Back to the artist and the design: some artists specialize in a particular type of art. Seek these artists out if you have a theme or special style in mind. In my case, I found a great artist that studied Tibetan art informally. His work converting my designs to flash was superb and I am very proud of my tattoos because of it (as is he, for that matter.) Let me say again, shop around and do not rush into anything.
One way I found to seek out a great design is using custom tattoo design software and images found online. I provide a review of some of the sites I have looked into on the website listed in my by line resource. Play around with images you find online, especially if you do not have a local tattoo artist to visit. That way you can be prepared to drive to an area that does have many tattoo artists and shop around in one trip. Show the designs you are considering to someone that has a tattoo already and if possible take them with you to get your first tattoo. Assuming all goes well, you can be that person for someone else next time.
Once you get the tattoo, he artist will provide you with heath and care suggestions. Pay attention to these as the tattoo will heal properly and last longer. You can avoid fading, blotchiness, infection, and a myriad of other undesirable things if you merely adhere to the care tactics presented by the parlor. I regularly get compliments on my tattoo as being bright or new-looking, and I got my first tattoo over four years ago.
A well-thought out, well-placed piece of quality artwork will be your pride and joy for years to come, if you exercise patience and do a bit of online and word-of-mouth research. It is as simple as that! Have fun with your first tattoo and welcome to the World of sporting a stunning, inspiring tattoo!