1. Check the artist you want the tattoo from
Checking the tattoo artist before you book in is so important! Check their bio on their Instagram and see if their diary is actually open. If it’s not then they might not reply to your enquiry. Also, if the artist has a certain style that they are displaying in their portfolio then they may not be able to do the design that you would like. My example is that I do blackwork and don’t enjoy doing colour but know plenty of people that can do it better than I ever could. I probably won’t take on a colour piece anytime soon, but if you’re massively struggling for an artist and looking for recommendations then don’t be afraid to ask!
2. Make sure you give enough information in your tattoo enquiry
Asking for your first tattoo can be a scary first step but here are some tips that will help out any artist that you message! Let your artist know what design you have in mind. If it’s just a general idea then let them know what specific elements you’d like and if it’s a very specific idea be sure to send reference images so both you and the artist can be on the same page straight away! It’s also great to let them know how big you would like it and the whereabouts on your body you want the design. This will help the artist start to plan if/how the design can work on certain placements. Different sizes and different areas of the body might change your design a little, it’s a team effort to settle on how your idea is going to look its best as a tattoo! If an artist doesn’t reply then no doubt they have a big waiting list and just, unfortunately, haven’t been able to answer you. If you can’t get a booking with a certain artist you can always try again when their books reopen!
3. Eat before your appointment!
With it being your first tattoo it’s a completely new experience and when your adrenaline starts to kick in it’s always best to have some food in your stomach. If you haven’t eaten before getting a tattoo with me, I will send you to get a delicious cookie from the shop on the corner! It’s also helpful to maybe have a bag of sugary sweets or a bottle of water with you during the tattoo (fizzy drinks may explode all over a tattoo station, this comes from a first-hand experience.
4. Don’t be embarrassed
If you’re wanting a tattoo in an area that may require you to remove clothing you’re uncomfortable with, for example, a sternum tattoo, and you’re in any way worried about it, please consult your artist. They will be able to take extra steps to make sure you feel safe and comfortable whether it be a private room or a wall screen. No doubt your artist will already plan for this but if you want to message them for your own peace of mind please do! Your artist will be professional with you and I can promise you it won’t be awkward in any way. If you are made to feel uncomfortable about a situation like this then leave your appointment. There is no situation in which you shouldn’t feel 100% safe. You can always bring a friend for moral support too!
5. Dress for your tattoo!
Dress for your tattoo! If your having a calf tattoo then don’t were skinny jeans, if your having a sternum tattoo a button-down shirt is amazing and please *please* don’t wear anything expensive or important to you! Tattoo ink will not wash out and both you and I won’t want to ruin something amazing you’ve just bought!
6. If you don’t like where the stencil is, tell your artist!
Before any tattooing happens the artist will apply a carbon stencil. This is exactly where your tattoo will go. Be sure to check that you like where the stencil is. Move the area where the stencil is, twist your arm, your leg, your torso and especially if it’s near a joint. Tattoos will move and twist and bend with you so make sure you know how it’s going to move. If you don’t like where the stencil is then ask your artists to move it. Stencils wipe off, it’s honestly not a problem. Now is the time to get it exactly right because you won’t be able to move it later!
7. Remember to breathe
Remember to breathe. A lot of people worry that they’re going to pass out during their tattoo. Be sure to communicate with your artist, if you feel a little hot or dizzy ask the artist to stop, have some water and maybe get a little fresh air. The feeling will pass and as soon as you’re ready, we can carry on with the tattoo. It’s not a feeling you can outrun, just take a moment. A lot of people get dizzy because they hold their breath if the tattoo hurts a lot. Not only does this inevitably make you lightheaded, it can make you move more which can affect the artist. Just remember, nice slow breaths in and out. It will help, I guarantee it.
8. Stay as still as you can!
Tattooing on the skin is very different to drawing on paper. You have a specific depth of the skin you’re tattooing and if you’re pulling a straight line and someone moves their leg… well, it might not end up so straight. Mistakes can be fixed but to help avoid them, be sure to get in a comfortable position and stay nice and still. Legs are very twitchy areas to get tattooed! Every leg I have in, I always have the thought in the back of my head they will twitch! You don’t need to apologise, it’s involuntary! Just do your best to relax and stay still. Breathing will help with this and if it hurts to move and you feel yourself struggling just ask for a quick break or your artist will probably suggest one so you can feel better.
9. Listen to aftercare advice
Listen to aftercare advice. Your tattoo artist will want your tattoo to heal just as well as you do! A tattoo is in your skin for the long haul and it’s important for everyone that it’s taken care of! Different artists and styles may need different aftercare. Don’t listen to what your friend or your parents did, listen to your artist, as they’ll know what’s best to heal for their style. If you forget anything or need a reminder, ask your artist to write it down or message them about it. If anything worries you at all, message your artist. Tattoos heal differently on everyone but if you think something is wrong then ask for advice!
10. Don’t be offended if your artist doesn’t take a photo of your tattoo!
Don’t be offended if your artist doesn’t take a photo of your tattoo! I’ve had a few people say about how it upset them that I didn’t upload or take a photo of their tattoo for Instagram and I know it may seem offensive in some way but honestly, I am AWFUL at taking photos. Sometimes I don’t get a photo, sometimes we finish too late and the lighting is bad, sometimes the tattoo is too red and angry from being tattooed that it just doesn’t look good in a photo. It’s nothing malicious I swear, every tattoo has maximum effort put into it. But an amazing thing you can do is send a healed photo of your tattoo once it’s settled! Be sure to shave and moisturise the tattoo and then take some cute photos and send them to your artist. Everyone loves seeing how they’ve healed and settled into the skin!