Getting a tattoo is a big commitment, not something you should take lightly. Here are 10 things to know before getting your first tattoo.
Take your time to think it through
“Not even one letter?”
Unlike a haircut, tattoos are permanent. It’s important that you think it through before getting one. Whatever your reason is for getting a tattoo, just make sure you’re prepared to have it on your body for the rest of your life. Think about the type of tattoo you’d like (black/colored), design, size, placement etc. You’re going to have to consider things like will it affect the job you have or the job you’re aiming for? If so, perhaps one that can be easily concealed under clothes is a better choice. Will it get stretched out if you put on weight or become pregnant? Placement matters. If you are worried about that, you could consider getting it on your back. Are you prepared to endure the pain? Bite the bullet. Are you willing to spend? Quality work comes at a price, don’t “cheap out”.
Tip: I don’t know who needs to hear this but getting your partner’s name tattooed is not recommended.
Research your tattoo artist
Once you’re certain that this is what you want, the next important step is finding a tattoo artist that will make your vision a reality. Look for one that specializes in the style of tattooing you’re after. Don’t pick a tattoo artist just because your friend says the artist is great. They may be excellent at neo traditional style tattoos but you’re looking at getting a realism tattoo – not a good fit. Find the best fit by researching their work and online portfolios. Read reviews before making an informed decision. The tattoo artist you choose is crucial to making this entire experience a positive one so it’s okay to be extra picky at this stage.
Check out some of the talented tattoo artists here in Singapore:
If you’re interested in their work, find out more about them in the Tattcons series on YouTube.
Book an appointment with the tattoo artist
When you’ve decided on your artist, reach out to them. Some artists are really popular and have long wait lists so be prepared to wait. It’s good to let the artist know that it will be your first tattoo, that way you don’t have to feel shy about asking questions – they’d understand why. Be well prepared with the information you’d like to share with them with regards to the tattoo. Be as clear and detailed as possible, provide them with images that convey a good idea of how you’d like it to be designed, a rough gauge of the size (in cm), where you’d like to have it tattooed and if you’re comfortable enough, share the reason behind your tattoo. Provide them with dates that work for you to minimize any back and forth associated with scheduling a session.
Don’t expect them to “copy and paste” a design
Another thing to note is that most tattoo artists are not okay with tattooing the exact same image you provide that is the work of another artist. They do not copy designs unless it was commissioned or if you provide proof that you have gotten the go ahead to use the very same design as a tattoo. Images for inspiration are welcomed, to be copied entirely, not so much. It’s all about giving your artist a good idea of what you’re looking for, then trusting them to work their magic. Don’t worry, you can still make adjustments as you go along. Nothing is set in stone until the needle pierces your skin.
Be open to your tattoo artist’s advice
The artist may ask you to head down to the studio prior to your actual tattoo appointment for a quick, in-person consultation. That is if they have additional questions for you to gain more clarity before designing something that best fits your vision. They may also provide some suggestions based on their experience tattooing, it’s good to take into account their advice as they can shed valuable insight as to how a design can be improved. Say for example you’d like a really small tattoo but the design you have in mind will age better if it is just slightly bigger than what you planned for. That’s something they might advise on. It’s also a good time for you to get to know the artist a bit more and gauge how comfortable you are with them prior to the actual tattoo session.
Bring a friend if needed
If you feel like a bag of nerves prior to your tattoo appointment, consider bringing a friend along (check with your artist if it’s fine before doing so as there may be certain covid restrictions in place). Entering a tattoo parlor for the first time can be quite scary, having a friend by your side can help calm your nerves.
Prepare yourself for the tattoo session
Get a good rest the night before and don’t drink alcohol. Stay hydrated, eat at least an hour prior and wear comfortable clothes. You can also bring along some snacks, depending on how long the session is estimated to take.
What to expect when you arrive
Be on time for your scheduled appointment, you may be required to fill up a consent form. Your artist will then show you the final design they’ve come up with (if you haven’t already received a copy of it prior). Don’t be afraid to speak up if the tattoo design isn’t what you envisioned and you’re not pleasantly surprised. It’s not uncommon to request for further adjustments to be made, just be respectful to your artist while doing so. It is going to be on your body for life so do make sure it’s what you want. Once you have given the OK for the design, your artist will proceed to prepare the stencil and tattoo equipment. They will do this in front of you to show you that everything is sterile and removed from new packaging before starting the session. They will then shave the area that the tattoo will be, apply the stencil and check if the placement works for you. If it doesn’t, let them know to change it until you’re satisfied. Once the placement is to your liking, the tattoo session begins.
If you need a break, voice out
Depending on how big and detailed your tattoo is, it may take a while. It can be difficult to stay still in one position over an extended period of time so try to ensure you’re in as comfortable a position as possible. If at any point you need a break, let your artist know.
Tip: If you’re worried about the pain, prepare a playlist beforehand and listen to music during the session. It can serve as a great distraction from the pain.
Pay attention to aftercare
Once you’ve gotten tattooed, it doesn’t end there. Your tattoo artist will share with you aftercare tips (eg. usage of SecondSkin, how often to moisturize, usage of sunscreen etc.) pay attention and heed their advice to ensure your tattoo heals well and is properly taken care of. It can get quite itchy after the first few days but don’t scratch your tattoo. Don’t forget to stay out of pools for a couple of weeks too.
Now, are you ready for your first tattoo?