June 11, 2020
First Time Tattoo Guide
Anytime you are preparing to get a new tattoo is exciting, but there is something special about your first tattoo. I got my first tattoo on my wrist when I was 19 and I couldn’t stop looking at it as I walked back to my campus. I am now 22, and I have five tattoos with a folder on my computer titled, “tattoo ideas,” for the ones I plan to get in the future. I know some people just get random tattoos with no deep meaning behind it, and that is okay as long as they are happy with it. For your first tattoo, though, I think it is important to take time to consider what you should get because it is your first step into the tattoo world, and you don’t want to ruin it by getting a random tramp stamp. I left some questions below that you can ask yourself when preparing to get your first tattoo.
1. What or who do I care about?
Choosing which tattoo to get can be difficult, especially when it's your first one. Since tattoos normally tell some sort of story by revealing something about the person, I find it helpful to think about what I value. Once I find something I value, whether it be a memory or a nostalgic TV show, I think about if my admiration will last forever. You don’t want to get something that you’ll end up losing interest in as you get older, which is probably why people don’t recommend getting couple tattoos unless you’ve been with that person for a long time. Tattoos are permanent, so think carefully about what story you choose to have your skin tell.
2. Do I know someone with really good tattoos?
Of course, once you get an idea for what you want, you need to find a tattoo shop. If you have any family or friends that have quality tattoos, I recommend asking them where they got it done and who their artist is. By asking someone you know, you can discover what shop is trustworthy and learn about the tattoo artist’s personality. You don’t have to go to the same artist the people you know go to but getting the name of a shop can lead you in the right direction. Some tattoo websites even have profiles for their tattoo artists with pictures of their work so you can learn whose style fits the tattoo you want. Even finding the social media pages of local artists is a good idea as well. Just keep in mind that some artists are very popular so it may be difficult to book an appointment with them right away.
3. How much will it cost?
Tattoos are not cheap. Even if you plan on getting a small tattoo, it is most likely not going to be under $50. Plus, it is important to tip your tattoo artist. If you make the appointment ahead of time, you can always ask the artist about the estimated price so you come prepared. Now, some tattoo shops have sales on Friday the 13th where you chose a design from a book for a small tattoo that costs $13 (not including the tip). Those sales can be fun to participate in and you can even make a day out of it by going with friends. Just keep in mind that tattoo shops are very crowded when these sales are going on since there are people with appointments and people who are looking for a $13 tattoo. Also, be sure to only go to really reputable tattoo shops for these sales, because even though the tattoo is cheap, you don’t want to get an artist that is not going to put in the effort to make it look expensive.
4. How visible can my tattoos be?
Though you shouldn’t let your career discourage you from getting a tattoo, you still need to think about where the tattoo should go and how big it should be. If you’re trying to be a lawyer, you definitely should not get a large neck tattoo, unless you plan on wearing turtlenecks every day. Getting tattoos on your arm can be a safe choice for most jobs because you can always wear long sleeves. Face tattoos, in my opinion, are never the way to go, even if you’re a rapper. But definitely don’t get a face tattoo as your first one, especially if you’re still trying to figure out what you want to do for a living.
5. How much pain can I handle?
Tattoos are not a painless process. For some people, getting the tattoo shaded in is more painful than getting the lines put on and vice versa. My friend describes the process as getting stung by a bee. Based on my experience, I find that the process is more annoying than painful, particularly the shading because it feels like someone is drawing on your skin with a hot pencil. I love spending time with my artist, but I am also very relieved once it’s over. It’s a feeling you can get used to over time, and good artists will ask you if you're okay to see if you need a break. If you’re worried about the pain, getting a small tattoo that may require a little bit of shading is the way to go. A small tattoo will give you an idea of what the pain feels like in a short amount of time. Also, keep in mind that the area you get the tattoo on will be sore for a couple of days as it is healing. The soreness does not last forever as long as you are gentle while cleaning it, but you can always ask your artist if there is any other way to reduce it.
Tattoo shops in New Jersey are reopening on June 22nd according to NJ.com. Good luck to anyone getting your first tattoo and stay safe!