I started thinking about body modification at around 15 years old. At the time, I was quite religious and wanted to get something to commemorate that. My first idea was to get a Gothic cross on the back of my neck.
However, the one tattoo shop I knew about wouldn’t tattoo minors and rightfully so because my ideas were trash.
My best friend and I loved visiting the shop because it was one of the few places you could get “alternative” gear in my city. And even though I didn’t have the money to buy anythin in the store, the fascination with body modification stayed.
I eventually got my first tattoo at 19 and it’s been non-stop from there.
So if you’re keen to get your first piece – here’s what you need to know.
Do your research
Check out the artists in your area and make a point of checking out their portfolio. I usually make a bee-line to Instagram and see what work they’re capable of doing. This gives you an idea regarding their style (i.e do they do black and grey, colour or portraits?) and what you can expect when you visit them. Book a consultation and meet up with the artist first to get a feel for the environment. It’s important to feel comfortable with your artist of choice, as they’re marking your body for life.
Start collecting ideas for your next piece
The best way to get your tattoo idea across is to find similar examples on the internet. If you want some cherry blossoms with a specific style, try and bring that along to your appointment. It’ll help to get the best end product for your piece and vision.
Tattoos aren’t cheap
This goes without saying, you’re going to pay for a good finished product. When you go to a shop, find out the hourly rate. Do not ask for a discount! Don’t complain about how expensive it is. That’s not going to change and there are very real reasons for why it’s pricey. You’re paying for sterile needles, the right brand of tattoo ink, labour and your design. This is someone’s livelihood and if you’re cool with cheap tattoos at a shoddy tattoo station, be ready for a nasty staph infection.
Be sure to eat something and bring some water
Your blood sugar is likely to take quite a dip during your tattoo session. Eat something beforehand and make sure you’re hydrated – you will be experiencing pain. Yes, it is sore. All of it is sore. It hurts and it’s a wound. You will bleed.
Follow the aftercare instructions from your artist
This is imperative for your tattoo! DO NOT SKIP THESE STEPS. Ask your artist for clarity and find out exactly what you need to do. Don’t exercise right after you get a tattoo. Don’t rub or scratch your scabs, you will be taking the colour off with it. Most importantly, an artist won’t be held liable for your shitty aftercare mishaps so you’re stuck with it for life.
Most importantly, other heavily tattooed people aren’t your local tattoo encyclopedia on demand. You can also use Google and find out what you need to know. Often, I get stopped and asked
“How much did they cost?”
“What does it mean?”
“Can I touch it?”
These kind of questions are invasive af.
I don’t want to tell you how much I paid, just go to a shop and find out.
I don’t have to share that with anyone. If you want to engage with someone, be polite and ask if they’ll share who did it. And please don’t grab me.
The reason why you might get a shitty response? I get asked the same question several times a day if I don’t cover my tattoos. It’s annoying, repetitive and tiring.
And yes, I chose to get them but you’re not entitled to my body, so hold that little train of thought and keep it moving.
Otherwise, I hope this helps and that you love your next tattoo!