– Have a good idea of what you want –
You don’t have to have an exact drawing or picture of what you want, that is what the tattoo artist is for, but you need to have something to base your idea for your tattoo on and reference material helps the artist to get you what you really want.
Also have a good idea where you want to place your tattoo since size of the tattoo you want will determine the best placement. A big tat won’t work on your wrist and a little one floating on the middle of your back won’t look good either, so think about size and placement. Hands, necks and faces are not a good idea and most respectable artists won’t do tats in these areas as well as not in the genital area or anything racial or gang related.
– Visit your local tattoo shops –
Do not walk into a tattoo shop and have the first available artist do your tattoo! I made that mistake on my first tattoo so I speak from experience and it was not good. Take the time to visit the shops near you and look at the artists portfolios and check out their work. Your first visit to the shops is strictly to check out the cleanliness of the shop and the tattoo artists and look at their work and maybe talk to them if their work interests you.
No reputable shop will have a problem with you walking in and asking to see portfolios, if they do – walk away! If they don’t want to talk to you (if they aren’t working on someone) – walk away!
– Once you decide on a tattoo shop and tattoo artist –
Make an appointment with your artist to visit with them and take your reference materials with you to discuss what you want and where you want it. Your tattoo artist will need time to work up your drawing, so make your appointment to get the tattoo done. When you are going to have the tattoo done your artist will show you the drawing they came up with for your approval and any needed tweaks can be done then before the stencil is made.
They will have you check the stencil for final approval so check it carefully especially if there is any wording on the stencil to make sure there is no misspellings which usually cannot be fixed after the fact. Once you approve of the stencil it will be put on the area you have decided you wanted it. Check the placement carefully to make sure it isn’t crooked or off centered. You are ultimately responsible if it isn’t correct because they will ask you several times if this is what you want so be sure before they ink.
– Does it hurt? –
This is always one of the first questions asked. The answer isn’t that simple because of different factors such as the location of the tattoo, your pain threshold, etc. Now I hate shots but I have no problem with getting tattooed because it is different from getting a shot. Boney areas like your feet or ribs are going to hurt more than your arm or shoulder area. There is some pain involved but mostly it is just irritating. Some people equate it to a bee sting but I don’t think it was that bad though they hit a few touchy spots on me and that is normal. Most of it isn’t too bad except for a spot or two.
– After care –
Follow all of the instructions that the tattoo artist gives you and you should do fine. Use what ever ointment they give you as often as they tell you and keep the new tattoo area clean and you should have good results. Sun is the enemy of tattoos so if you are planning on being out in the sun all day and you tat will be exposed, please use sunscreen or your tat will fade more quickly.
The only other advice I would give is stick with more traditional styles of tattoos and don’t go for trendy icons because they might not be so meaningful ten years down the road. A tattoo that means something to you instead of just being cute has a better chance of still being something you like.