Thinking About Getting a Tattoo?
I once did a short stint in my life as a Tattoo artist, freelance mostly, or what those in the industry would call a “scratcher.” But that’s not to say I haven’t spent time in a shop, because I have, only not as an official artist, but rather as an official girlfriend to an artist. Nonetheless, I’ve been around the industry of tattooing for about four years now, and I’d like to offer up some advice based on my own experience about what to consider when wanting to get a tattoo, especially if it’s your first tattoo.
Nowadays it seems rare to meet someone who doesn’t have a tattoo, and once you get one, you always what another one. If you’re seeking your first tattoo or another one, here’s something to think about.
No Pain, No Gain
Yes, it will hurt. Tattoos hurt, some more than others, and that depends on what part of the body you’re getting tattooed, how big the tattoo is, and your tolerance for pain. Bigger tattoos, areas with thin skin over bone, and skin with less exposure to the sun will hurt more.
The Clock Is Ticking...
Don’t expect to be in and out of the shop with a finished tattoo in less than 30 minutes. Unless what you want is really small, simple, with limited colors, and the artist is already set up, it’s not going to be done in half an hour. Plan on a minimum of one hour. The artist needs to stencil out the drawing, or free hand it on you, wait for your to decide if you like it or not (if you’re like me, you’ll sit there for an hour just deciding this), set up their equipment, and then begin the tattoo.
Know what you want before you go into a shop. This can cut your time in half, and nothing frustrates an artist more than someone who doesn’t know what they want, and goes back and forth over different ideas. The more time you waste figuring out what you want, the less likely you are to get the tattoo done that same day, and the more the artist will not want to tattoo you; although they will never tell you this.
What’s It Worth?
Don’t go in there with a fixed price in your head. There are several factors that an artist considers when quoting you a price. First, what do you want tattooed? Is it something simple, or complex? The more detailed the picture, the more it’s going to cost. How big do you want it? The bigger you want it, the more ink and time it requires, and the more it will cost. And if you want something super detailed, think big, because it’s hard to do super detailed work on small tattoos. Where do you want it? Some parts of the body are harder to tattoo than others, such as joints. Do you want colors? If so, then that will raise the price too. Also, it’s important to know that every shop has a minimum fee, which can vary. I’ve seen it cost as little as $10 and as much as $100, and sometimes more depending on the location and reputation of the shop. So even if you want something simple and small, and their shop minimum is $100, plan on spending just that.
Me and Only Me
Want a unique, one-of-a-kind tattoo? Then don’t print it off the Internet. Chances are if you printed an image off the Internet, someone else already has that as a tattoo. If you want something that nobody else has then have your idea specifically designed for you. Most artists can do this. They may charge you a deposit up front, and this is only because they are investing time in designing it for you, and you may end up deciding not to get it, or have it done somewhere else; therefore, it won’t be a complete waste of their time. But if you like what they designed for you, and you have the work done, then your deposit will go towards the price of the tattoo. If you want an image that someone else has, such as a large tribal piece (like The Rock’s) keep in mind that it may not look the same way on you. Most likely the artist drew the design directly onto that person’s skin so that the image contoured to their body.
What's Your Style?
Check out the artist work before getting tattooed by them. Almost every artist carries a portfolio of their work; as well as posting their stuff up on personalized websites such as Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. This will give you an idea of what they are good at. There are many styles of tattoos: traditional, black and gray, tribal, Asian, realistic, and that's just to name a few, so go for the artist that’s skilled in the style you want.
Last But Not Least
Tattoos are permanent, unless of course you have them medically removed, which hurts and costs even more than getting tattooed. Make sure it’s what you really want, in a place that you want. Go ahead and model in the mirror with a temporary picture of it on your body (like I do) before you head over to a tattoo shop. Remember, the more decisive and clear you are about what you want, and the more you are willing to pay for what the work is worth, the better job your tattoo artist is going to do, and the happier you’ll be, providing you can take the pain.