So tomorrow is the big day, huh? You've been thinking about it forever, you've stalked tattoo artists on Instagram, you've obsessed over what tattoo design to get, where to get it, and you finally called and made an appointment to get your first piece of ink.
But, while you may have watched every episode of Ink Master, can name every artist who ever competed, and know the difference between Japanese and American Traditional - if you've never actually sat for a tattoo before, there are undoubtedly things you need to know before your session.
Let's take a look at the things you should keep in mind before you get your first ever tattoo.
Know That It's Gonna Hurt...
It's true. Tattoos hurt. It's a needle creating an open wound, so a little pain should be expected. Get your mind around that and do what you need to do to deal. Headphones with binaural beats? Deep breathing? Mantra? Do you and stay calm. Don't be afraid to ask for breaks if you need them - and if you don't do well with pain, it might be a good idea to start with a smaller tattoo just to test your threshold.
...But Not As Much As You Think. Hopefully.
It will hurt, but hopefully not as much as you've convinced yourself it will hurt. Stay relaxed and it'll hurt less, and try to keep your focus on anything other than the pain - or the fear of pain. Reading a book, listening to music, or taking a buddy with you to chat with while you sit for your tattoo are all good ways to distract yourself and keep your mind at ease.
Don't Get Wasted The Night Before
It's tempting to have a few drinks to calm your nerves or to celebrate or just because it's Tuesday or whatever, but resist. Alcohol thins the blood and will make you bleed more during your session. Also, nobody wants to sit for a tattoo with a hangover, and no artist wants to deal with your nauseated, headachey, sweaty, hungover ass. Do everyone a favor and stay sober.
Eat Something Before You Go
Have a meal, eat a snack, something, anything, but definitely eat! Low blood sugar increases your risk of just passing right out, which would definitely cause a problem. Or you could be hangry. Don't be hangry. You wouldn't like you when you're hangry - and nobody else would either!
Be Prepared To Be Still
Depending on the size of your piece, you could have to sit still for a really long time. Like really still. Even a twitch or a shift in your weight can mess up your tattoo. If you're fidgety, you may have a rough go of things, so keep this in mind and try to make yourself as comfortable as possible from the get-go. Ask for breaks if you need to, but don't make your artist stop every 5 minutes. That's just annoying.
They're Gonna Shave You
Be prepared for shaving. If you have a particularly furry back or the kind of chest hair a 70s porn star would envy, they're going to have to clean you up before they get started. Even if you choose aa spot you think is naturally smooth and hairless, it's probably not, so don't raise a fuss and just let the artist do their job.
Your Tattooer Is An Artist And A Professional...
Your artist may have opinions about your tattoo; your design, the placement, the colors you want - and their opinion is most certainly valid. if your artist offers suggestions about any elemet of your tattoo design, or if they just straight up tell you it won't work, listen to them. This is their job and they know what they're talking about. You chose this particular artist because you like their work, so trust them to do their work. They want to see you leave with kickass ink, so if they have an opinion, you should probably listen.
...But They're Also A Person
So don't be a dick. Remember - your tattoo artist is the professional here, they're doing their job and trying to give you the best tattoo they can. If they suggest a change, be open minded and talk it through with them. Don't get offended if they think your design sucks - and absolutely don't be sassy or disrespectful. They're armed with a needle gun, remember! But seriously, if you want your first tattoo session to be a successful one, then listen to the professionals and take on board any input they might have.
You Have To Do Stuff To It Afterwards
As soon as your artist is finished, it's time for you to take responsibility for the aftercare of your first tattoo. You have to take care of your ink while it heals so that it heals correctly. Your tattooer will give you instructions and sometimes ointment or creams to apply. Be careful what you wear, while your tattoo is healing also. Tight clothes will irritate the wound, so be sensible about it. Do what they tell you to do and your tattoo will heal beautifully.
Don't Pick At It!
Your new tattoo is going to be itchy and scabby, and it's going to BEG to be picked at and scratched. Don't do it! Picking at the scabs can mess up your ink and leave you with a splotchy mess. You can always get it touched up later if something happens during healing, but better not to risk it, yeah?
Don't Go To The Pool
While it's healing, your tattoo should stay as dry as possible and never be submerged in water. No long soaking baths, no swimming pools, no lake, no ocean, no jacuzzi. Not only will water soften your scabs and mess up your ink, chlorine can jack it up too. Also, avoid extended sun exposure. Even healed, tattooed skin is more sensitive to sunlight, and a fresh wound is super sensitive.
Getting your first tattoo is super exciting and if you follow instructions and use a bit of common sense, it will be a great experience that you'll always remember!
Do you have any top tips for tattoo virgins? Let us know in the comments section!
All images used in this article are from Pixabay, therefore no attribution required.