7 Tips for Successfully Getting Your First Tattoo

You’ve finally decided to get your first tattoo, but where do you start? Tattooing has become more popular than ever before, and there are so many talented artists out there to choose from, which can make picking one out seem like an impossible task. However, don’t worry—we’re here to help! From thinking about the design you want to going through the actual process of getting inked, here are seven important tips to make sure you go into your first tattoo experience as prepared as possible.

Research your artist

When getting a tattoo, it’s important to remember that you aren’t just creating a piece of body art—you’re forming a relationship with an artist. To ensure that you and your artist get along, meet with more than one potential artist before picking one (if possible). Many tattoo artists will offer appointment slots where they can sit down with potential clients, give free consultations and inks samples (this is especially common among custom shops), talk about what kind of work they do and show you some portfolios. This should give you enough time to get a feel for their style and personality, so you know if they’re right for you.

Location, location, location

It’s common sense that location matters. Don’t get a tattoo on your hands, neck or face if you’re just starting out—you want to give yourself time to grow and develop as an artist before showing off your skills to everyone you know. Stick with a low-key area, like your wrist or ankle, which can easily be covered up when needed. You’ll also want to pick somewhere that’s easy for potential clients to see in case you end up needing business cards—which brings us to our next point…

The day before

Do your research, relax, and go to bed early. You should take it easy on yourself so you can wake up refreshed and ready to get inked! If you are extremely nervous, try picking up some tea or a small snack before your appointment. This can help calm your nerves and give you a boost of energy right before you enter into the studio. A good night’s sleep will also do wonders; getting a full night of rest will keep you energized throughout your day! (You might be nervous about sleeping in once you have it done, but don’t be!)

What if I change my mind?

You’re going to change your mind. It’s going to happen. At least a dozen times. And that’s okay. Before you get that first tattoo, know that it isn’t final—and it shouldn’t be treated as such. Think of it like going on a first date: You are getting to know your future tattoo and vice versa; take time with each other before making a commitment! A good artist will understand if you want more time or another session; they don’t want you to regret anything either. Trust yourself and your artist, and it will all work out fine in the end!

Finding a design you love

Depending on how many tattoos you want to get and how much money you’re willing to spend, you may need to do some research. Don’t worry, though—you won’t need a design in mind yet, just something that speaks to your interests or style. In fact, if you don’t know what tattoo(s) you’re looking for in advance, it can be fun to browse pictures of different ideas online before you make any decisions. Once you’ve found a few images that resonate with you (and can provide inspiration once your design is complete), print them out and take them along with you when visiting a tattoo parlor or hiring a private artist.

A lot of patience is required!

Your first tattoo is always going to be special. It might even be something you’ll treasure your whole life! Before you get that 1st tattoo, ask yourself why it’s so important to you. Is it just a fleeting whim? If so, perhaps wait another year or two before spending $100 or more on getting something permanently etched into your skin (and trust us: You’re gonna want to make sure that artist can actually draw). On the other hand, if you are 100% committed to getting inked and have been thinking about doing it for a while now, then we say go right ahead and book an appointment with your artist of choice. Just remember, tattoos aren’t like shoes—you can’t return them if they don’t fit!

Choosing colors and placement

You have to consider what kind of tattoo you want, and as a beginner that’s not always easy. Once you decide on your design, it’s time to pick colors and placement. You have to think about whether you want a full-body tattoo, or one just in specific places like an arm or leg. Also factor in placement: will your design stay on your body forever? If so, you need to make sure that once it heals you won’t regret where it’s at. Always get a second opinion from someone experienced; if they tell you not to do it, listen!