What You Need To Know Before Getting Your First Tattoo


Are you thinking of getting a tattoo?

Tattoos have gone from something only worn by sailors and truck drivers to being so common it’s almost an oddity if you don’t have one.

If you are considering getting your first tattoo, there are some things to think about first.

Do Your Research

To begin, make sure you know that you really want the tattoo. Don’t do it on a whim. This is an investment in your body, not to mention it can be an expensive removal process if you change your mind.

Plan out what you want. Whether you sketch it out yourself or have photos, make sure that you walk in to the tattoo parlor knowing exactly the ink you want to get.

Tattoos don’t have to be extremely expensive, but you’re going to pay between $50 and $200 an hour, depending on the skill and caliber of the artist, their reputation and the intricacy and difficulty of your design.

Look into the tattoo artist’s background and styles. Most artists will post on social media so you can see examples of their work. You want to be sure the artist is the right one for your vision.

It’s ok to look for something affordable, but don’t let your amateur tattoo artist buddy do it. Just remember you get what you pay for.

Getting the Tattoo

First rule: be sober. Contrary to popular belief, being drunk and getting a tattoo is not the way to go.

Most artists will refuse to work on drunk customers. Alcohol thins your blood, which can cause you to bleed more and the tattoo might not come out properly.

People also tend to make bad decisions when they drink. You want to be able to think clearly about your design, choices and the situation.

Make sure the tattoo parlor is clean and they use new, unopened needles when working on your art. Check the chair bench or the area where you will get tattooed to make sure it is sanitary.

It’s ok to change your mind. Just because you like their style, doesn’t mean you’ll feel comfortable with an artist or parlor working on your ink.

The tattoo can take anywhere from five minutes to five hours depending on what you are getting. Most times you can expect at least an hour, but it really depends on the complexity of your ink.

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The pain is going to depend on where you get it. Areas that tend to have thicker skin or more fat are going to hurt less. Calves, shoulders, backs and forearms are less painful areas.

The most painful areas are near bone or have lots of nerve endings such as on the wrist, the head or inside of the thigh.

After You Get It

It’s customary to tip your tattoo artist for their work. If it is an amazing job, show your gratitude.

You’ll get instructions on how to care for your new art, so make sure you follow them. The tattoo will scab over while it heals and can be very itchy. Don’t scratch it! Using moisturizer on it as it heals will help.

Different people’s bodies react to tattoo ink in different ways. It is possible your skin will reject the ink or get infected.  This can happen immediately or over time, even up to years after getting the tattoo.

If you decide that you don’t like it or made a mistake, there are options. You can have it altered or have it removed.

If you have it altered, a tattoo artist can work with you to transform it into a design you like. If you work with someone very skilled in tattooing, they can fix almost anything.

If you want to get it removed, it can take numerous sessions depending on the type of ink and complexity of the tattoo. Sessions can range from $200-$500 and you can need anywhere from 6 to 10 of them, depending on your tattoo.

Think It Through

If you want that tattoo and you have for a long time, go for it. Just make sure you feel good about the artist and the design.

If you are still wavering about the design or the permanence, it’s ok. If it’s about the pain or the artist, then maybe consider doing the research, stopping your worrying and getting some ink.

About Eric Paul Erickson 31 Articles
Eric Paul Erickson is a writer, journalist and award winning filmmaker. He’s based in Los Angeles and his interests include fitness, men’s health, pop culture, space, science and film.