Getting a tattoo is something most people contemplate at least once in their life. For those of you who do decide to get one, your first time can be somewhat overwhelming. Trust me, as someone who currently has three tattoos I still remember how nervous I was walking into the local tattoo shop for my first. However all my fears faded away the moment the artist turned on the tattoo gun and began what was soon to be my first tattoo. However I still wish I knew a few things going into my first session. Here are a few things that I've learned that will help you prepare yourself for your first piece of forever art.
1. Plan out what you want to get carefully
I cannot stress this enough. Take the time to plan out what you want to get and what it is going to look like. Tattoos, when taken care of properly, will stay on your body for the rest of your life. Try to avoid going out with friends one liquor-induced night only to wake up the next morning with some strange blob on your lower back. I'd say your best bet is to get something that has meaning behind it whether it be a reminder of your time abroad or a symbol of something you love. Don't do it on a whim because nine times out of ten you'll end up regretting it a few week later and laser tattoo removal will cost more and hurt more than getting the tattoo itself did.
2. Meet up with the artist before setting up your first session
Be sure to do your research in terms of who will be doing your tattoo. Most places are good but I always say you're better safe than sorry. You're going to want to find someone who has a good reputation and that you know has a clean shop in order to avoid infection. Go in early and meet up with the artist, see some of their prior work and talk to others who have gotten pieces done by them as well (I always recommend my artist Brian to those contemplating a tattoo because he knows what he is doing and his work is amazing).
3. Think about where on your body you want to get your tattoo
Location, location, location. Be sure to plan out where your tattoo is going to be. This mainly applies to those who are planning a future in which tattoos might affect their chances of getting a job (ridiculous, right?). Also, getting a tattoo hurts more or less depending on the location of the tattoo. if you're someone with a low pain tolerance then maybe you should avoid putting yourself through an hour of hell for that rib or shoulder tattoo.
4. Don't drink the night before (or moments before) you get your tattoo
Alcohol thins your blood and a tattoo is technically an open wound. Regardless of whether or not you drink you're going to bleed a bit while getting your tattoo. However if you drink blood will end up flying out of the wound which is gross and can also affect how good your overall tattoo comes out. I see why people would want to get buzzed before getting that other buzz but it's totally not worth it. Just bring a metal spoon or something to bite down on instead.
5. Try to stay as still as possible
I get that it hurts but try to stay perfectly still. If you move while the artist is doing his job you're going to get some random line drawn outside of your design and then your song lyrics are going to look like chicken scratch.
6. Tell the artist if you need a break
If the pain gets too bad don't be afraid to speak up and tell the artist. His or her job not only to give you a good tattoo but to keep you as comfortable as possible as well. If you need a break, take a break. It's important to let your body rest and recover especially if you're getting a tattoo that's going to take a while. Plus, if you don't take a break there is more of a chance that you'll end up moving and ruining your tattoo.
7. Drink a ton of water on those breaks
While getting your tattoo your body is kinda sorta going all over the place freaking out because there's a needle being stabbed into your skin a couple hundred times a minute. You can actually become dehydrated while getting a tattoo since your body is working overtime to try to get you through the pain. So be sure that while you're on one of these breaks you drink up. And if you need to take a pee break, don't be embarrassed to let your artist know.
8. Talk yourself through the pain
Everyone has their own way of getting through the pain. Bring a friend with you to talk to in order to take your mind off the pain or bring some music to distract you. What works for me the best is just squeezing someone's hand until it starts to turn purple.
9. Take care of your tattoo
This is all on you. No one is going to be there to check up on you 24/7. Be sure to take good care of your tattoo after it's finished. Follow the after-care instructions word for word and be sure to not pick at it. Picking only leads to improper healing which leads to you having to get a touch-up (AKA going through all the pain again and spending even more money). Be sure to apply your tattoo lotion all the time and do your best to avoid getting it wet while showering.
10. Be proud of your new ink and show it off to the world
YASSS. YOU DID IT. Show the world your new piece of ink. Be proud of your tattoo and don't you dare hesitate to post it on all forms of social media. Just be careful because no matter how hard you try to avoid it, your tattoo addiction will soon hit you full force and you will have to restrain yourself from walking right back into that tattoo shop. But hey, you can get another one soon enough––just as soon as your bank account recovers.