A First Tattoo

I’ve seen a lot of tattoo guides out there explaining what to do before or when you get a tattoo and I thought I’d make my own. Granted, I only have one tiny tattoo, but it’s enough to make me feel like I have sufficient first-time experience.

1. Think about it…to an extent.

I’ve seen so many of these tattoo guides that say to think about your tattoo well before you get it. While I agree, I want to divide tattoos up into three categories based on meaning before I make my first point about step one.

Family, Memoriam, Everything Else

My tattoo falls under the category of family. I will admit, I thought about it for maybe a week? I was itching to get a tattoo so badly and I know there are many people out there my age who feel the same. I wanted one so badly that I was worried I would go on a whim and get something I would regret. While I went on more or less of a whim, I picked something in the family category because I know that loving my family is something that will never change no matter the circumstance. Instead of a symbol or picture or quote with little or no meaning, I picked a four/four time signature in music that means four beats per measure and four quarter notes per whole note. There are four people in my family, and we are all musical so the time signature idea seemed fitting. I also think memoriam tattoos are something that can also be done relatively spontaneously because as unfortunate as it is, it is a situation that will not change and a sweet constant reminder of a person you loved who has passed.

While I can’t say I wouldn’t regret a quote or picture or symbol or anything in the “everything else” category, I firmly believe to sit on the idea for at least a year if it is “everything else”. IMG_3479

2. Start small.

While getting a giant back piece may seem super badass, wait until you’ve had at least one tattoo before to get something really big. A small tattoo gives you a sense of how your body can tolerate the pain. And let me tell you, my wrist was not happy during the 5 minutes it took to do my tattoo. While I know the wrist is supposed to be one of the more painful spots, to me it felt similar to that deep pain you get during a shot for a solid five minutes and that was all I probably could have tolerated. Call me weak, I don’t care. Everyone’s body is different.

Tattoo Pain Scale



3. Think about the future.

I think a lot of young people who get tattoos are a little naive to how the job world takes it. I know there are companies who don’t care and a lot of them are making changes to their tattoo policy, but the fact of the matter is- not every place is accepting and probably will not ever be. I have a friend with a full arm sleeve who wants to be a musician and says nobody cares in the music world. While that is probably true, one must take everything into consideration. If her music career doesn’t work out or give her sufficient income, she’ll probably need to find a 9-5 job and what a shame if she cant get it because of her tattoos. One of my friends has a forearm tattoo and says,”I’ll just wear long sleeves every day.” I don’t know about you, but I would get really tired really quickly of wearing long sleeves every day especially knowing I can’t roll them up if it’s hot.

My tattoo is easily covered up by a watch strap, and I plan on wearing one to cover it if necessary. It’s an easy solution that will not cause discomfort. Don’t get me wrong, I would want to get a sleeve or really visible tattoos because I love them, but only once I am older and settled in to a long-term job where tattoos are okay.

4. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

I went to get my tattoo with my dad, and in typical fatherly fashion, he asked the artist to change his gloves twice. When I embarrassingly apologized on my dad’s behalf, the artist said that my dad had made a really good move. He told me that if you are in any way concerned about the safety or sanitation of the artist or equipment, speak up. The artist “may think you’re a dick” but is required to do what you ask. They are also required to tell you about their sanitation practices and if they don’t you should always ask them to tell you. An infection isn’t worth not saying something in fear that the artist may judge you.

5. Listen to your artist for aftercare.

There are so many things on the Internet on how to treat your tattoo. Just do what your artist tells and you will be fine. If you have any problems, don’t google them. Call your artist or visit the shop. They’re the experts at the end of the day.

6. Not everyone is going to like it and that’s okay.

Don’t be sad if someone says they don’t like your tattoo. If you like it that is all that matters. Not everyone has the same tastes and not everyone likes tattoos. Who cares? Its your money and your body and your meaning. My friend always says “if they don’t pay your bills, their opinion doesn’t matter.” So true.


I’m sorry if I left anything out or offended anyone, these are just my opinions and thoughts!


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