Tattoo artist Manny Hernandez, from 27 Tattoo Studio in Phoenix, says he takes extra precautions to ensure the safety and health of his customers. (Photo and story by Maddy Ryan/Cronkite News)
7 pieces of advice before getting your first tattoo
If you have decided that you want to get a tattoo there are some really helpful tips that people who already have ink can share with you. Read through the tips, follow any that you feel are relevant to you, but always remember to do what your tattoo artist tells you so your new ink is properly cared for.
Choose the RIGHT Artist
Anyone can hang up a shingle and declare that they are a tattoo artist, Many people even go to people who do not have a shop and get their ink created. The only way that you are going to get a fantastic tattoo is if you use a tattoo artist that is fantastic. You get what you pay for, so if you are looking for a discount artist who does not charge much do not expect an amazing ink job created from the finest ink.
Do a little research on the tattoo artist and shop that you are thinking of using. Go to the shop and ask to see a photo album of some of their work. The majority of tattoo artists have a photo album with pictures of tattoos they have created before. Most tattoo artists are happy to let you see the work they have done.
The best option is for you to use an artist that someone you know has used before. You will have seen their work and have a first-hand account of how the artist treats their customers.
While you are in the shop you can check out the cleanliness of the shop and see how the artist cleanses their equipment before and after they give a tattoo. This information is crucial to the tattoo you get because an unsanitary shop or unsanitary equipment can result in you getting an infection after the work is done.
Who does your tattoo, know before getting some ink they use, how they sterilize their equipment, and how they treat their clients are very important considerations.
Choose your design carefully
When you get a tattoo, it needs to be something you are ready to live with for the rest of your life. Do NOT get ink put on your body just because it is the fashion at the moment, or it seems funny right then.
If you choose to get someone’s name tattooed onto your body, remember that if you break up the name is still going to be inked onto your body. Be ready to live with that ink for the rest of your life because tattoo removal is not easy, not always successful, and not cheap.
Think carefully about where you are getting that tattoo
The location of the tattoo determines how visible it is to the rest of the world. If you want everyone to be able to see your ink then do not worry about that, if you have a sensitive job that requires you to cover up tattoo work then you want to get your ink placed in a more private location.
Yes, it hurts
To get a tattoo someone has to stick needles into you repeatedly. When a needle pierces the skin, it is painful. It is not the most excruciating you will ever experience. It is however going to smart some, and larger tattoos take longer to create and they come with a greater amount of pain.
The area you have the tattoo created on can also increase or decrease the amount of pain you will feel while the work is being done.
Talk to the tattoo artist if you are concerned about the pain and they will help you to choose the right location, and they will make you more comfortable. If you tense up then the pain will be greater than if you are relaxed.
Don’t Go Alone
If you take someone with you when you go to get your tattoo, they can help keep you relaxed while you wait and relaxed while the work is being done. A familiar face and voice will help you to stay calm and relaxed.
Your friend is there to make you stay calm so choose who you bring with you carefully. You want a friend who is not hyper or easily to excite. You want someone who has a calming influence over you.
After-Care is Crucial
If you want a tattoo that looks great for a long time and retains its color then you need to be prepared to properly care for the ink after you receive it.
The tattoo artist will recommend how often you should clean your new tattoo and what cleaning products are best. This is important stuff to remember. The cleansing of the new tattoo reduces the possibility of infection. Some cleaning products and soaps are harsh and will cause your ink to fade or your skin to dry out and peel.
Avoid the sunlight! You have a new wound on your body and you need to protect it from the sun until it is completely healed. Do not go sunbathing or swimming without protecting the new ink.
Use the moisturizer that your tattoo artist recommends. Moisturizer is important but what you use may be more important than you realize. Just like soap, some moisturizers can diminish your ink and cause it to fade quickly. You want the colors you have chosen to remain vibrant and that can only happen with the right after care products and regimen.
Get a Small One First
Before you rush out and get a full hand tattoo or your entire chest covered in a beautiful work of art you should start by getting a small tattoo. Getting a small tattoo allows you to become familiar with the sounds and smells in the tattoo shop. You will be able to see what kind of pain is associated with getting this done and you will get first hand experience in how to properly care for a tattoo.
It is recommended that your small tattoo be placed somewhere you can cover it up if you decide to do so. Some people get ink and then discover they do not want to show everyone at the office, at church, or wherever they are their ink. Start small in a private place like a shoulder and see how well you like the tattoo process and results before you get the big tattoo.
Tattoos are personal choices and you are the only one that has to live with the decision that you make. Do not let anyone talk you into getting a tattoo or out of getting a tattoo. Make up your own mind and then stick by your decision.