I consider myself someone who has more than an average amount of tattoos for someone who's my age and not in the industry. I think I have between 15-20, but am not sure.
However, one thing I do know is I have spent a lot of time at tattoo shops. If you haven't been tattooed before, here's a short lesson, and if you have, here is a brush-up.
1. Do have an idea of what you want to get beforehand.
Before going into the shop, have an idea of what you want. It doesn't have to be a complete thought, you can work with your artist to find something you like.
2. Do pick a reputable shop.
If you have a bad feeling, go with your gut. A shop should smell and appear clean. Needles should be wrapped--and they should be single-use needles. They should spray down their chairs between clients.
3. Do be prepared to wait for the artist you want.
For the artist who has done most of my tattoos and my left arm sleeve, I would sometimes have to wait upwards of two or three months for an appointment. I don't mind this since it gives you time to think the idea over. Plus if that person has a waiting list, they have it for a reason.
4. DO NOT DRINK THE NIGHT BEFORE!
You will bleed a lot, and you will feel like crap. So do you and your artist a favor and save the gin and tonics for another night.
5. Do bring food with you.
This is very important for the bigger tattoos. Your body will get tired and worn out, and needs nutrition.
6. Do bring water with you.
Like I said, your body is drained. You are putting yourself through a stressful situation, you are bleeding and sweating. You need to stay hydrated.
7. Do not haggle about the price.
Your artist is spending their time doing your tattoo when they could be spending their time doing more lucrative ones. On top of that, they may have spent hours doing the stencil. They also need to pay their dues towards the shop, pay for their supplies, and proper sanitation.
8. Do not bring a crowd of people with you.
Artists think this is annoying. You are crowding their shop, and it is a distraction. It also is annoying to people getting tattoos hearing groups of people (and this isn't just girls, btw) squealing on and on about stuff for potentially hours. Bring a close friend or a partner ONLY.
9. Do make sure you bring proper ID with you.
Reputable tattoo shops should scan your ID, and this goes into the database for the Center for Disease Control. On top of that, they need to make sure your of age to get a tattoo. This could vary by shop or region, but it's pretty standard for the age to be at least 16 with parental consent.
I got my first tattoo on my 16th birthday, and yes, my mom was there. We had to bring in my birth certificate, my learner's permit, and papers showing that she had custody of me. They also gave her a waiver to sign saying that she acknowledged what I was getting and where I was getting it.
10. Do make sure you tip your artist.
Your artist is providing you with a service. You tip your hairdresser, movers, and waiters. All of these people provide a service.
11. Do take your dressing off as soon as you get home.
Now I have heard several people ask why I didn't leave the wrap on for a day or two like they had been told. A TATTOO IS AN OPEN WOUND. I don't want to have the bacteria build up under a nice plastic sheet causing my skin to be a Petri dish.
12. Do realize, in case you didn't get it in the last bullet point. A TATTOO IS AN OPEN WOUND!
It needs to be treated as such. You shouldn't go in pools, hot tubs or take baths. It needs to be cleaned often and well with an unscented soap.
13. Also, no significant others' names. It is considered a curse.
But what can I say, my boyfriend and I have matching tattoos.