Dec 4, 2013

Things You Should Know before Getting Your First Tattoo: My Tattoo Tips

None of the pictures are my own, all are courtesy of Google.

      Last week a friend of my texted me asking me about some tattoo advice, which I was more than willing to give, and it got me thinking - why not combining everything I know about the subject in one cohesive unit? Usually people go online to find some useful stuff, not to read my mindless bullshit, so making this post does make a lot of sense. I know there's a lot of other sites on tattoos and tattooing already available but if you're like me, you want as much information as possible from as many different sources as possible so this is me putting my two cents in. I don't think I'm an expert on or good at many things, but tattoos? Let's say I know a thing or two. I've gotten through the process of getting inked 8 times by 4 different people by now and I really have accumulated some useful information over these past 10 years since I've gotten my first tattoo and here there are:

1. Let's kick things off with a fun, picture-laden aspect of the topic: types of tattoos. There's a bunch and knowing what you can get done will help you decided what you want.

    >Old school or classic tattoos: These are outlined (notice the black line, determining the shape of the tattoo) and filled in with bright colors. Motifs are usually pin up inspired, hearts, roses, banner, etc.
Classic tattoo heart
classic old school colorful tattoo
classic old school tattoo heart roses outline bright colors
old school tattoo neck piece tiger

   >Realistic tattoos: These aren't outlined and mimic the actual nature of the thing they portray as much as possible.
realistic tattoo Alex de Pase rhino back piece
realistic colorful tattoo Alex de Pase eye
Both these masterpieces are by Alex De Pase.

    >Tribal tattoos: Pretty self-explanatory.
tribal tattoo men

    >Black or black and grey tattoos: Pretty self-explanatory.
black and grey tattoo flowers blossoms branch girl back
black and grey tattoo skull headphones forearm
black and grey tattoo garter belt
black and grey tattoo inside lip mouth dinosaur
black and grey tattoo house back piece girl
black and grey tattoo pistol gun hand palm finger
black and grey tattoo chest piece girl
black and grey tattoo heart friendship tattoo

     >Japanese tattoos: The most common motifs are koi fish, geishas, samurais and such. You can get a pretty good idea of what a traditional Japanese tattoo looks like by examining an irezumi, which is a tattooed body-suit 'worn' by the yakuza. Who are the yakuza? Only the members of the largest criminal organization in the entire world stationed in Japan.
Japanese tattoos yakuza irezumi bodysuit woman man
geisha tattoo man stomach

    >Portraits: Pretty self-explanatory.
tattoo portrait grandmother Bono U2

    >Lettering: Pretty self-explanatory.
lettering tattoo finger promise
lettering tattoo hopeless romantic girl forearm
lettering tattoo sometimes you have to fall before you fly
lettering tattoo I am the architect of my own destruction

    >And everything else in between.
colorful tattoo back piece giraffe
colorful tattoo eye forearm
dandelion blown in the wind tattoo

      As far as motifs go, the sky's pretty much the only limit. If a person can draw it, it can be tattooed and you can see some more ideas and examples of imagery and placement here. Keep in mind though, the smaller the details, the bigger the chance that in time those lines will get fuzzy and all you'll end up with is a nice big blur.

2. But whatever the motif, as long as you don't decide to get tattooed with a traditional 'hand-poked' technique where they use sharpened wood, shark teeth, animal bones, etc. (which is still on my to-do list), you'll get tattooed with one of these bad boys:

      And a few of these even badder boys:

      You have different types of tattoo needles for different jobs they perform. The far left one is used for outlines, other ones are for shading and filling in large surfaces. Don't freak out by the magnums, those are actually less annoying (or painful) than the smaller ones. I think that has to do with a similar logic than the one explaining how a fakir can sit on a 'pillow' of nails.

3. My next point would be: Don't, don't DON'T copy other people's work. Never ever EVER do that. Don't bring a picture you found on the Internet into a tattoo shop and ask for the exact same thing. That's unoriginal and boring and just MEAN. You don't like seeing people wearing the exact same shirt, dress, pants, whatever, you're wearing, so imagine how horrible a person would feel if they saw you having the same tattoo. That's why I don't purposely show my tattoos here or explain what they mean because if I saw some dumbass with MY tattoo, I'd have to kill them and I really can't get my ass thrown in jail, I have more important stuff to do.

4. Another point, just as important (if not more) than the one before is this: Don't take getting a tattoo lightly, especially not the first one. If you're thinking: "Whatever, if I don't like it, I'll just get laser removal." No. That's not an option. Forget about laser tattoo removal treatment. Not just that it hurts more than getting tattooed because they literally burn you with a laser, but you have to get the procedure done multiple times in an attempt to get all of the ink removed. Smokers have poorer results than non-smokers, the older the tattoo, the more difficult it is to remove it and the most important part - you CANNOT remove all colors. Whites, pastels and other light colors turn dark and you'll be left with a horrible smudge for life. So no, laser removal is not an option. Words of wisdom: Think before you ink!

5. That's why you should be patient, don't rush it. If you decide you want a tattoo on Monday and you get it done one Wednesdays of that same week, you might not like it on Friday. So just wait, let the idea marinate. I've waited 3 years before finally getting my first tattoo. Think about it, it's going to be on your body for the rest of your life - where's the rush? There is none. How long should you wait? You know how indecisive you are, so you decide for yourself, but my guess is a week isn't long enough.

6. When deciding on an artists, do your homework. You can scroll through pictures of your ex and other bullshit on Facebook for hours, so take some time and look through several artists' sites and portfolios. You want to go to someone who's good and specializes at what you want to get done. If you've heard of somebody who's great at black and grey tattoos but you want a realistic one, don't force it, find someone else. And you need to know that EVERYBODY has at least some bad references, everybody. You won't find an artist whose every client only says positive things. But if you find more bad reference than good ones, take that into consideration. The only case where one bad reference suffices is when you hear somebody claiming they got infected with something at that particular tattoo shop. Even it you think it's a nasty rumor spread by their competition - don't go there. You don't want to be the person proving that it's not just a rumor.

7. Don't let your decision be based solely on the price. You'll pay per hour (anywhere from 100, 150 and more - €, $ or £, same shit) and a lot of artists have a minimum or starting price (anywhere from 30 do 100). Consultation and sketching shouldn't be included so the clock starts running when the needle hits the skin. Tell them what you want and ask them approximately how long it'll take them.

8. Things you should or shouldn't do right before getting a tattoo: DON'T drink alcohol (because it widens blood vessels and you'll bleed (even) more which will make it harder for the artist to tattoo you), don't get sunburned, don't party (lack of sleep will make you more susceptible to pain) or don't take an Aspirin (it prevents your blood from coagulating so you'll bleed more). DO take a shower and put on some deodorant because chances are you're going to sweat, do think about clothing in advance (wear something that'll make it easier for the artist to access the area you're getting tattooed - don't wear a tight mini dress, for example, if you're getting something done on your ribcage because then you'll basically have to be butt naked during the process) and do get some painkillers if you're getting anything huge done or if you're a sissy so you'll take them when you're done.

9. How long will the tattoo heal? About 5 to 14 days.

10. What does heal mean? First it will be puffy and it'll probably hurt or sting a little if you touch it, then eventually it'll scab and itch till the scab finally falls off.

11. Things you should and shouldn't do with a brand new tattoo: A new tattoo is basically a fresh wound. Wash it at least 2 times a day (don't go crazy washing it 7 times in one day either) and put lots of cream on it (the artist will tell you which cream to use) - ideally the wound and later scab should always have some cream on it, it shouldn't get dry. No scratching of the scab - if you scratch and pull the scab out, you'll pull the ink with it and the colors or lines won't be as even, so no scratching, even if it itches like a bitch (which it will). For a month forget about saunas, swimming pools, sunbathing, tanning beds, playing sports or anything that makes you sweat where you just got inked - with sweat ink can come out.

12. A tattoo should stay intact for about 10 to 20 years and it will, if you stay away from the sun. If you want to preserve those colors and prevent those lines from blurring, put sunscreen or clothes on and DON'T get sunburned.

      And that would be it. Hope this helps those who're contemplating the big step. And it is, it's a big BIG step, bigger than getting married. You can't take a tattoo off like you take off a wedding ring so let me say it again: Think before you ink!

Don't miss out on other post on tattoos as well: 

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  1. This are great tips for anyone who is interested in getting a tattoo I was so amaze by the art of tattoo and the skills of it.

  2. I was thinking about getting a tatto . Your post is so informative and helpfu

  3. Ooh, great list of tips for people curious about getting tattoos! I know that I eventually want one, but it's figuring out what I want that's the problem haha

    The Dragonfruit Diaries

  4. I want so many more tattoos. I think it's something you know very early. When I was a kid, I always pictured myself having tattoos. I don't think about it but I don't think I could stay without tattoos...

    1. Me either. I want more and will definitely get more. Soon.:)

  5. Hi Peet! I enjoy your tips and read them with attention. You know, I still havent any tattoo (piercings yes but still not inked), but are years that I'm thinking about it and I believe will make the first soon..dont know when but I am almost sure. Just something little that represents me, makes me feel happy everytime I see it or just reminds me something important. Im little scared for the hurt but the result should pay it. Kisses dear, have a good evening! xo

  6. Hi dear Peet, always really interesting what you write with huge expert knowledge. I think if each person who want to have a tattoo follows your suggestions they will sort the things out and there wouldn´t be disappointments and regrets regarding tattoos. Thanks for that!

    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    1. You're wore than welcome, dear.;)

  7. great post! I really want to get one one of this days, but a much simple one!

  8. HEY! I want to get a traditional "hand-poked" tattoo done too! Let's get em together.

    xo Ashley

  9. The boyf has a tattoo which looks great on him. In a way that my mum even likes it. Forrealsies. Meanwhile, I've been wanting, planning, thinking about tattoos but never got one. Because I am too indecisive and that itself is a sign that I should not get it.
    Plus I am too chicken. There, at least I am honest.


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  11. Nice advice. I did not realize how many styles of tattoos there really are out there. This post has been very educational.

  12. great post! very useful! thanks <3
    I love tattoos as well, I have just 3 smalls but I thinking about another one :)
    kisses x

    1. I'm always thinking about another one, it's so addictive.:D

  13. Good tips and it was great to read about the different types of tattoos. I didn't know that yet!

  14. Wow it seems that we had the same idea =)
    I decided it was time for the second collection of tattoos and here you are, with the best advice for getting one done (by the way, I`ve stolen some pictures-not to you, but google`s- for future third compilation because they are just great) .

    Great tips! I took me five years to decide and now I think tattoos are very clear in my mind ... but I'm a wimp!
    I`m sooo afraid and i don't trust nobody ...
    But sometime in the future i'll get them.

    PD. I used one of yours pictures =) (i didn't name you, but i can do it if you want!


    1. Sure, take whatever, I like you so it's definitely ok.;) And it's so cool that you've thought of the same thing at the same time!!!

  15. aaaaaaaaah ew gross gross gross (is what goes through my head after seeing the pictures of people getting their tattoos removed! choose wisely!!)

    1. Yup, that's pretty horrific. That's why I included the photos - for shock value.:)

  16. I have two tattoos, neither of which would make me someone say OMG like the tattoos in your images above, Mine are very girly and small. I do want a third one, but I can't decide what and where. I'd like one around the area of my foot or ankle, but I'm not overly keen on this part of my body so don't really want to draw attention to it.

    Those tips are cool. Where I got mine done was by recommendation by a friend, recommendation tops any other type of research every time. I didn't know about not drinking alcohol, but it makes sense scientifically! Oooh and I've never seen the aftermath of tattoo removal - yuk!

  17. I have been thinking about getting a tattoo for years! If I would have gotten the first one I wanted I wouldn´t even like it anymore nowadays xD I have been thinking about so many motives and there are still some where I would say that they are pretty cool but there is no one I´m sure I will like forever...

  18. I have almost 10 years of inking experiences behind me as well. I got the first one when I moved away from my parents (to another town ;) and I was 19 then. I couldn't do it earlier because they would have kicked me out of their house (my relatives don't love tattoos, obviously, haha). anyway, I have 7 tattoos but some have formed a whole with something else (I did one part at first and then decided to add something later). I guess I will get more in the future and I want to renew some of my old ones, too. oh and even I read your post with great interest to see if I knew everything you considered important. I think I did know pretty much everything but hadn't think about all those things. by the way, did you also write that one can't drink beer, cider, wine, champagne and so on after getting a tattoo (as long as it's completely healed)?

    Maikeni blogi - part of me

  19. When you have an unwanted tatoo with the ex girl or boy name for example, the main safe solution for clear this from the skin is the Laser tattoo removal delhi strategy.

  20. These are some really great tips that I needed to read. I am getting my first tattoo next week, and I want to make sure that the design I picked out will be good. I don't want to regret my decision after I get the tattoo. This is something that you can't just erase and do over!

  21. Great advice, and very similar to what I also tell people. I have three tattoos from three artists and am going for my fourth soon, although I planned my first and biggest piece for ten (10) years before I had it done in 2008. I change my mind a lot, so each time I got an idea of what I wanted, I'd wait six (6) months and if I still liked it then, I was set. As you can calculate, I had many ideas which didn't make it to the six month mark.. The only other thing I'd add to your list of considerations is where to get the tattoo - for example I prefer to see all of mine, and some are facing me so they are upside down when others look at them (on my foot for example) - but my tattoos are for me, not others, so I'm happy with that!

  22. Yep. When you know what you want, check your artist. Check his hygiene and check his work. Check work similar to what you want. He might be shit hot with traditional, but just shit with portraits or photo-realism. Personally I got for big blocky colourful designs - they stand the test of time better (just had a 30 year old dragon recoloured)


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