First Tattoo Ideas: Building Your First Piece

First Tattoo Ideas: Building Your First Piece

Oct 07, 2022 | Bridget Reed

When it comes to body art, it can be daunting to try and come up with your first piece. After all, a tattoo is a permanent design that lasts forever. How are you supposed to come up with an idea and a design that you want on your body for good?

Today, we’ll cover all the steps toward building your first tattoo piece. First, we’ll go over how to choose the perfect location for your new tattoo. Next, we’ll cover all the steps to choosing a design and a tattoo style. 

Finally, we’ll cover how to prepare for your session, protect your new tattoo, and help it heal properly. 

At HUSH, we think all of the steps of getting a tattoo should be painless, from the design and planning phase to sitting in the chair to aftercare. With HUSH products, you’ll keep returning to the shop again and again.

Where Should I Get My First Tattoo?

First Tattoo Ideas: Building Your First Piece

If it’s your first time getting a tattoo, you should know that location is everything. You need to make sure that you think through how big your tattoo will be and where you will place it. 

Make sure that your tattoo size and location match your lifestyle. For example, if you are an avid surfer out in the sun all day long and decide on a tattoo you can’t cover up from the sun with your suit, you risk trouble during the healing process. 

Make sure to talk to your artist about your lifestyle and how to pick a tattoo location and size that align with it. 

Tattoo Size

If it’s your first time getting a tattoo, we suggest you start small. A tattoo is a big commitment, so if you start with a large tattoo you end up not liking, you can be in a world of regret. Now, we’re not saying you need to go with a microscopic tattoo for your first ink. 

Depending on the level of detail you want in your design, your tattoo will probably have a minimum size. Consult with an artist to see just how big your ideal tattoo has to be, and decide based on their advice if you want to proceed with that design idea.

Even if you’re absolutely positive you want a full sleeve forearm tattoo or a large piece that covers your whole back, don’t aim for completing it in your first session. Larger tattoo pieces like this usually take multiple sessions, so we advise going with a smaller tattoo you can get done all in one go for your first tattoo.

Nothing like feelin’ the pain for the first time and deciding, “nope, not for me.” Take it slow; we got you.

Tattoo Location

You’ll also need to pick a tattoo spot that suits you! If you work in an industry where you need to cover up your tattoos easily, don’t go for a spot you’ll need to pack makeup onto every day. This can get old fast

Many artists aren’t stoked on tattooing people in spots where they can’t hide it if it’s their first tattoo. If it’s your first time, an artist will probably steer you away from something like a hand tattoo, face tattoo, or neck tattoo. 

We suggest a tester spot, where you can decide if you like how your body looks with a tattoo. If you get your first piece in a place you can never hide it and end up disliking it, you will likely feel regret. 

Then, you’ll have to decide if you want to pay to remove it or deal with a piece of ink you hate for the rest of your life — if it’s small enough, you can always cover it up though, so don’t stress.

The Least Painful Tattoo Spots

Pain is also a factor in picking a tattoo location. For your first tattoo, we advise picking a location low on nerve endings and high on muscle and fat to ensure your pain scale is at its lowest. 

You can also help prevent pain by using a topical anesthetic before your tattoo session. This will ensure that you feel comfortable throughout your session, especially if it is a new experience. 

Certain parts of the body hurt less than others — duh. Usually, these areas are not bony and have thicker skin and muscle. For your first tattoo, we advise a location like a bicep or upper arm, the thigh, the shoulder, or the calf. These spots have the thiccness to hurt less than other more sensitive areas.

The Most Painful Tattoo Spots

The bonier and more nerve endings are in a spot on your body, the more it will hurt to tattoo them. For example, joints like your elbow, knee, and ankle all have very thin skin and a lot of nerve endings. 

This will mean that it is much more painful to get a tattoo there. We also advise avoiding areas like your feet, hands, ribs, neck, and face because these thin-skinned spots can also be extremely painful. 

Even if you use a strong topical anesthetic like our numbing cream or numbing gel, these spots are likely to hurt more than others; it might be too much for your first tattoo. Once you are a total pro and know the level of pain to expect, you can revisit getting a tattoo in one of these sensitive spots. 

What Design Should I Choose for My First Tattoo?

First Tattoo Ideas: Building Your First Piece

When you are choosing a tattoo design, the world is your oyster. This can be extremely daunting since there are so many different tattoo styles and options out there. 

Before you rush to the shop, research and find photos of tattoos online that you really like. It doesn't matter what the most popular tattoo style is; the best tattoo for you is one you will love forever. 

We advise not rushing into any tattoos. Tattoos are permanent, and it's a pain (literally and figuratively) to get them removed. Take your time deciding on a style and a design to make sure you’re stoked on it before getting inked.

Tattoo Style

There are dozens of different tattoo styles out there. Some people love a minimalist black ink line-work tattoo. Others love hyperrealist designs that create a fun illusion for anybody who looks at them. 

Some people enjoy colorful watercolor tattoos, and some like to keep it traditional with classic tattoo styles. Tattoo styles vary greatly between artists, so knowing what tattoo style you like best before jumping into your session is essential. 

Do you want simple line work or intense, colorful shading? Do you want to stick to black ink or experiment with color? You need to be very intentional about your tattoo style before getting on the table. 

Below, we’ll explore some common categories you can toss around when planning your first tattoo. Let these tattoo ideas inspire you, and think about what you love most in your life that you want to honor on your body with a sick piece of art.

Tattoo Designs Inspired by Nature

If you love nature, you can get a tattoo design that makes you feel like you're out in the woods, even if you're stuck in an office. Several popular nature tattoos in different styles can make dope first tattoos. 

If your happy place is among the plants, consider a flower tattoo or a tree tattoo. Avid bird watcher? Why not get a bird tattoo or feather tattoo to honor your favorite hobby. 

You can pick any type of animal to get tattooed. A lion tattoo might signify your bravery, a butterfly tattoo might evoke your sense of whimsy, or you can get tattoo art of your beloved pet to remember them forever.

Simple Tattoo and Small Tattoo Ideas

If it’s your first time getting inked, we think a minimalist tattoo is a great place to start. Tiny tattoos are easier to cover with clothing or makeup if you decide you don’t want to show them off on a certain day, and they’re also easier to remove or cover up if you don’t like them later. 

Just because a tattoo is small doesn’t mean it has to be boring. You’ll want to keep your design simple to prevent the ink from bleeding together, but you can pick a small symbol that is meaningful to you. 

Geometric tattoos like a star tattoo or heart tattoo are super popular, as are minimalist wave tattoos or skull tattoos.

Meaningful Tattoo Designs

If you want a tattoo that is super meaningful to you, consider something that honors a loved one, like a family member or best friend, or a tattoo that celebrates your culture or religion, like a cross tattoo or a tribal tattoo.

You can get a symbolic tattoo in their honor if you're tight with your family. If you want to celebrate your heritage, why not research traditional tattoo styles from that region and get ink that your ancestors inspire?

How Do I Find a Tattoo Artist?

The key to a great tattoo is a great tattoo artist. Not only will a reputable artist ensure that your tattoo session is sanitary and comfortable, but finding a tattoo artist specializing in the design you want will make sure you come out of your session absolutely obsessed with your design.

You can do a lot of research about tattoo artists online. We like to start by looking up local shops with great reviews. 

Make sure the tattoo parlor you choose uses proper sanitation methods and has the right licensing. Usually, on the shop's website, they will feature all of their tattoo artists. 

Sometimes, they will feature art from these artists directly on the website or link to social media pages with their previous tattoo designs on them. Here, you can get a sense of what their tattoos look like and their general vibe. 

Some tattoo artists specialize in minimalist line work or doodle-style tattoos, while others like to practice hyperrealism in bright colors. 

We advise finding someone else if you are impressed by a tattoo artist's work, but it's not the design or style you're looking for. Even if a tattoo artist is experienced and does brilliant work, if it is not the design you want, that is not the right tattoo artist for your needs. 

How Can I Prepare for My First Tattoo?

First Tattoo Ideas: Building Your First Piece

After you've chosen your design and made an appointment with your artist, you can start preparing for your first tattoo. In the days before your appointment, avoid taking ibuprofen and aspirin and steer clear of any alcoholic beverages. These can thin your blood and make your tattoo session and healing process more difficult. 

Prepping Your Skin for a Session

On the day of your tattoo session, make sure to prep your skin for the appointment. If you are getting a tattoo in a place where a lot of hair grows, shave the hair away for nice smooth skin. Be careful not to give yourself a razor burn; it does not feel good to get a tattoo on irritated skin. 

Then, make sure that you clean the area where you will be getting a tattoo thoroughly. While your tattoo artist will ensure your skin is sanitary, you don't want to head straight from the gym to the tattoo shop. 

Foam Soap

Our CBD Foam Soap can thoroughly clean your skin and provide several botanicals to help prep your skin for tattooing. Finally, use a topical anesthetic to make your tattoo session much more comfortable and enjoyable. Our numbing cream and numbing gel both use powerful lidocaine for an easy breezy sesh. 

What to Expect at Your First Tattoo Session

While every tattoo artist is different, most sessions have the same basic steps. First, your artist or a shop manager will have you sign a liability waiver. 

Don't worry; you're not signing your life away. Shops use waivers to protect the artists if you don’t take proper care of your tattoo or have an unexpected allergic reaction to the ink.

Next, your tattoo artist will print up your design on a stencil that works like the temporary tattoos you probably adorned yourself with as a kid. They will place the stencil where you want to get your tattoo and ask what you think. 

This is a crucial step. If you have any reservations or hesitation about your tattoo or want to make any changes, tell your tattoo artist or forever hold your peace.

Then, your artist will take you to the chair, and you can get tattooed. Make sure that you communicate with your tattoo artists during the session. 

If you need a break or if you need to apply some more numbing agent like our numbing spray, tell them. Your tattoo artist wants you to be comfortable, not suffer through a painful session and never get a tattoo again. 

After your artist finishes up, they will advise you on the proper aftercare instructions. They will teach you exactly how to wash, moisturize, and protect your new tattoo. They will also tell you what's normal in the tattoo healing process, like scabbing and peeling, and what signs of infection to look out for


The most important things to consider when getting a new tattoo are size, placement, and style. When designing a tattoo, remember that this body art lasts forever. It can feel daunting to decide on your first tattoo, but there's no shame in picking your perfect design. 

We also suggest that you find an artist matching the exact style you want so that you come out of your session absolutely loving your design. At HUSH, we believe that no step of your tattoo journey should come with pain, so make sure to utilize our numbing agents and aftercare products to help heal your new ink. 



A New Era For Tattoos, with New Potential Complications | NCBI 

TATTOOS: What Do People Really Know About the Medical Risks of Body Ink? | PMC 

Tattoos and Their Potential Health Consequences | PMC 

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