A well thought out tattoo by a skilled artist can be a beautiful thing. The impulse tatt you got in Bali after a few too many Bintangs? Not so much. If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, read this first!
Tattoos are more popular now than any other time in history. While advances in technology and inks in the 80s and 90s spawned its share of skilled artists producing truly breathtaking artwork, the tattoo boom also saw a proliferation of faux tribal sleeves and nonsensical Chinese symbols flaunted over low-slung jeans, thanks in part to the countless tattoo parlors offering cheap off-the-wall ink.
Then, like so many subversive-turned-mainstream trends, the hangover kicked in and the novelty wore off; people started realizing that their For Life tattoo couldn't be scrubbed off, and patchy jobs became the target of ridicule on countless websites dedicated to tattoo fails.
So if you’re considered getting inked, it always pays to go in prepared! Here is the expert's advice to make sure your ink is more fantastic than fail.
1. Put careful consideration into your choice of tattoo
First, ask yourself whether you’ll worship Justin Bieber/One Direction/Robert Pattinson as much in ten years time as you do now. You probably won’t.
2. Visit the shop before you get your tattoo
“Check that the place looks clean, they have good artwork on the walls, the staff is friendly, and then schedule a consultation with the artist to talk about pricing and any questions you might have,” renowned New York tattoo artist Becca Roach from North Star Tattoo told Cosmopolitan.
“You wouldn't want to get surgery in a scummy basement whose worst enemy is a black light, so why get a tattoo there? The cleaner the shop, the less risk you run of getting a skin infection -- or worse,” tattoo artist Billy Gray told Huffington Post.
2. Find the right artist.
“Look at their portfolios, and find a style that you like, and that fits your idea,” says Billy. “Don't settle on the first one you see; do your research and check out different shops until you find the artist who's right for you.”
3. Don’t be a walking typo
Becca recommends spell checking and proofreading many times over if you’re getting a tattoo with words. “Don't get too wrapped up in looking at a tattoo as a whole and forget to pay attention to detail. You and the tattoo artist will probably make a few edits during the sketching and stenciling process, so make sure you spell check after each round of edits.”
4. A good tattoo is not cheap
You’re going to be wearing it for the rest of your life, so don’t go looking for a bargain. And no, you can’t try to bargain down the tattoo artist either.
5. Do you research on what you like
Consider having the sketch framed on your wall for a month or so to make sure you really love it.
6. Never, NEVER get a tattoo on a whim
Especially after you’ve been drinking!
7. Laser tattoo removal hurts
It is expensive and we can promise will hurt more than any sort of tattoo you can think of. Even very small tattoos can require up to as many as 5 sessions.
“A great design can be ruined by poor placement on the body,” says Billy. “Make sure you look carefully at the placement; if it seems off, tell your artist. It's on you for the rest of your life, so make sure it's in the right place.”
9. Try to imagine what the tattoo will look like in 5, 10, 15, or 30 years time
Is it in a place that will stretch like your stomach, hip, or breasts? Be aware that as you grow and shrink, so will your tattoo.
“A timeless design will stand the test of time much better than a simple Skate or Die,” says Billy. “Having to cover up your tattoo because you're embarrassed by it isn't a good look.”