Clearing Up 3 Misconceptions About Getting Your First Tattoo

By Elizabeth King

Tattoo, body art, ink… you know you’ve thought about getting one. But there’s that naysayer in the back of your brain saying “Ahhh, I can’t do it!” So, alright, I’m going to tell you something that probably goes against what almost everyone (definitely a lot of moms I know…) have told you about tattoos: They’re really not that big of a deal, and you should absolutely go and get the one you’ve been day­-dreaming about.

I’m not saying we should all go out and get some Sailor Jerry business on our foreheads, but I am saying that if you’ve been thinking about that geometric pattern or Harry Potter tribute or poem you love for a couple years and can picture it on your body, please go and get it. As a proud wearer of eight pieces of body art (fancy!), I am here to encourage you to go out and get inked! I know you have some concerns, let me allay them for you.

1. They’re too painful.


Yes, it’s going to hurt. Depending on your pain threshold and how big the piece is (i.e., how long it will take to finish), you won’t exactly be whistling a happy tune by the end. But, the good news is, once it’s done, so is the pain! And then you have a tattoo you like for all eternity! I’ll add that I’m sort of a baby when it comes to this stuff, and even after three-plus hours in a tattoo chair, I’ve never cried or gone crazy with pain during a tattoo.

2. They’re too expensive.


Good tattoos can be expensive; it’s true. But again I’ll raise the “all of eternity point” (you get to keep it forever, unlike a lot of other things we spend a couple hundred bucks on… RIP J. Crew dresses of yore), plus, in many cases tattoos are custom art. Have you been on Etsy lately? Well­-made custom artwork can and probably will cost way more than your first tattoo. And do you really want to skimp on a tattoo? That would be a resounding NO. Not only that, but tattooing is a really difficult skill, and in the case of a quality tattoo artist, they’re exceptionally talented individuals, and they deserve the dough! (P.S.­­ Always always always tip your tattoo artist at least 20 percent).

3. They’re forever.


Lastly: the whole forever and ever on your skin thing. Hopefully by this point you can tell that I think that’s one of the great things about a tattoo. So many people worry that they will regret the tattoo that they get, but in my own experience and that of literally every person I know with a tattoo, people just don’t really regret them. Even a tattoo that I have that I’m not as in love with as I was the day I got them, I’m still glad I have them and consider them a normal part of my skin. A caveat I’d throw in is that you should think extra long and hard before getting the name or portrait of someone you know (especially significant others), since quarrels or loss of closeness over time can really sour those sorts of pieces. If you’ve spent some time thinking about the tattoo you want, and you think it’s meaningful or cool or pretty or you just really like the idea, I would bet you’ll be pleased with it down the road as well.

Some basic tips are to spend some time researching where you’ll get the tattoo: That means both the shop and artist you want to go to, and also where on your body you want the art. As for the location on your body, a tattoo artist can definitely help you determine where the piece you want will look best, and hold up the longest. In general I would say trust the artist. They know what they’re doing and they want you to be happy with your results, so tell them what you want, and if they insist on certain tweaks or changes, you can be sure you’ll be happy you listened to them. Check out the shop before you go, and make an appointment with the artist you’ve selected to discuss what you want. They’ll draft up a sketch and get your approval before needle hits skin on the day of your appointment.

Alrighty then! You’re good to go, and next time I see you I want to be checking out your fresh ink.

About Elizabeth

ElizabethKingElizabeth King is a mid-20s environmentalist, feminist, dog and Futurama-loving writer, and non-profit lady warrior living in Chicago, IL. She also is working to bring back the low-five.

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