Getting your first tattoo can be a huge decision! Sometimes you want a professional tattoo, find an idea, and then scrap it because you’re not sure you’ll love it years into the future. Well, there’s no 100 percent assurance you’ll love a tattoo until the end of your life, but there are a few ways to increase the chance of that happening.
Whether you’re a first-timer or not, there are quite a few things to consider when you get a new tattoo. What do you want? How do you want it? Who can do it best? How do you make sure it’s just right? HUSH will answer all these questions so you can get your body art just right.
What Tattoo Subject Do You Want?
To get the right tattoo, you first have to decide what you want. Okay, we know this usually ends up being where you fall off, but the truth is, it doesn’t have to be that big of a deal. There’s a lot of hype behind “the meaning” of a tattoo.
It makes sense; it’s art, and art is open to interpretation. The difference is that you are either getting a custom piece, which makes it your art — just at the hand of the tattoo artist. Or you’re getting a flash piece created entirely by the artist (or with a few personal adjustments.)
A tattoo can be a big, meaningful deal, but we’re here to tell you that you can also get a tattoo because you simply like the art. It can mean nothing to you emotionally, and simply be beautiful in your eyes.
On the other hand, it’s also dope to get a meaningful tattoo. We’ve seen tributes of all kinds; to movies, to loved ones, to animals, to yourself, to music, to a culture, to a book, to religion. We’ve seen it all.
First, consider if you have a tattoo subject or an idea that inspires you to put it in ink. You can also consider if you need to have the tattoo mean something. Are you down for a cool design, even if it doesn’t have a deeper meaning? It could also develop meaning over time.
So if you are hankering for a tattoo, don’t get bogged down with the meaning or the need to get the perfect tattoo. Find some things you like: paintings, sculptures, photos, doodles, phrases, or any inspiring art.
Collage that or create a photo album of all these things and see if there are some common themes. Is there one element you can decide on? The most important factor is whether you like it.
You could even get stuck with a few subjects you like and focus on finding a tattoo style you’re interested in. Once you pick a style you feel attached to, you can go back to your different subjects and figure out which one would be best in that style.
What Tattoo Style Do You Want?
Considering your subject, think about how you want it to be represented in your skin. Chances are there are a few different styles of tattoo that will suit the subject you’ve chosen.
Or maybe you have a few potential tattoo subjects, and finding the tattoo style you like will help you narrow down which subject you’d like to see designed in that style.
A few tattoo styles you might want to look into include:
- New School
- Stick and Poke
As the tattoo industry evolves, so do the styles. Some artists can tattoo a renaissance painting onto your back, and others are creating tattoo art in completely new styles.
The possibilities are endless, so the best thing you can do is find an artist in your area whose style you like for your tattoo idea and ask them if they would be up to creating a design. Or if they have a book or Instagram of pre-designed tattoo art, you can check out to see if there’s something you want.
How Do You Choose The Best Tattoo Artist?
Choosing a good artist is a huge part of getting a tattoo you won’t regret. There are so many artists you could potentially go to. It’s definitely a hard choice, especially if it’s your first time. How do you make it a bit easier?
You first want to narrow down your options by figuring out what you don’t like. Then figure out a style you do like. If it’s more than one, review a few good tattoo artists and vibe out whose work would fit your idea best.
Once you find an artist you like, check to see if they have time! Reach out to your favorite artist and send over your tattoo ideas. They should be able to let you know if they can give you a good design for it or not.
Usually, an artist will want to know your general idea, tattoo placement, the size of the tattoo, and if you want a colored tattoo. You should also talk to them about your pain tolerance and check if they have any numbing cream at their tattoo shop.
How To Get the Tattoo Design Right
Once you’re all set up with your tattoo artist and have your tattoo appointment, you’ll need to make sure you get your tattoo right on the day of. Whether you asked for your artist to design you some custom body art or choose a design of theirs, you’ll have to ensure you have it just right before you get it inked into your skin for the rest of your life.
You’ll want to apply a numbing cream about an hour before your session. Ask your artist before the appointment if they have any; if not, bring your own.
Your artist should show you the design of your tattoo — let them know if you have any questions or changes. Don’t be shy about this part. This can be the most important thing about having a tattoo you won’t regret.
Yeah, it can be annoying to change a million things, so just be polite and direct about things you want different or things you’re super happy with. If you are unhappy with the total design, you may consider rescheduling and giving your artist more time to create a new design. Don’t get a tattoo you don’t want. It’s better to bow out and lose a deposit than get a tattoo you don’t want.
Confirm the part of the body you want your tattoo on when you're happy with the design. Usually, changing the tattoo placement won’t change the cost of your tattoo but changing the size will.
Sometimes your artist will have a transfer or stencil they will put on your skin so you can have an idea of what your tattoo will look like. Make sure you let your artist know if the stencil is in the right place or if there’s anything you want to be changed about the shape or placement.
Then the actual tattoo process starts. Depending on your tattoo placements, you might be able to watch your artist work. Your artist might check in a few times to make sure you like the look of what's happening.
Ultimately, they’ll clean you up and make sure you like the results. You should be able to get a good idea of what your tattoo looks like pretty immediately. Let your artist know if you want immediate changes. Otherwise, you can wait until it’s about a month healed and return for any possible touch-ups, should you need any.
Get That Tattoo Just Right
Now you know how to get the best tattoo for you!
Figure out a subject or general idea you’re fond of or choose some existing work from a tattoo artist or any artist, matter of fact. Don’t put too much pressure on finding a perfect design and falling in love with it; chances are, you’ll never get the tattoo you want so much. Nothing is perfect!
After that, figure out the style of tattoo you want. There are many styles, and your best bet is to figure out which ones you don’t like and then snoop around for available artists near you that would make a great tattoo with their style and your idea.
Once you’re all set and locked in, make sure you’re appointment goes well. Be a kind and respectful client while also getting the tattoo you want with honest communication.
And most importantly, get your aftercare right. Nothing is worse than finally getting a tattoo and messing up the healing process. So don’t! Get yourself some healing cream and fragrance-free, antibacterial soap, then follow your tattoo artist's aftercare instructions.
Modern Paintings | National Gallery of Art
Tattoo Practices in North-East India: A Hospital-based Cross-sectional Study | PMC