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Tattoo 101: A first course on getting your first ink

Jamie Ballard

Whether you’re only planning on one small tattoo (and that’s it!), or this is the beginning of a tatted lifestyle, here are a few things you should think about before you get inked.

Do it for you. A tattoo is a highly personal decision. So don’t get your boyfriend’s name tattooed simply because he wants you to. Don’t get a tattoo that you’re not in love with, simply because you want other people to think of you as a badass. Get something that you love or that has meaning to you, that you can stand behind. It doesn’t have to please everyone around you, because it is yours and only yours. 

Cost. Like with most things, you get what you pay for. If it seems too cheap to be good, it probably is. Even if you’re on a tight budget, it’s better to slowly save up and pay for a high-quality piece of artwork. After all, it will be on your body forever, isn’t it worth the investment? If you’re not sure about what it should cost, check around your area.

Research your artist. Before you commit to a certain artist, be sure to do your research. Every artist has a different style, and you’ll want to find someone whose artwork you really, really like. Make sure you’re happy with their work. Online review sites like Yelp and Facebook can help you with finding the right artist for you.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request changes. Work with the artist to figure out a design that you really like, and don’t be afraid to ask for modifications where you need them. If you want it to be bigger, smaller, have less or more detail, or maybe just different altogether, speak up. Most artists will be happy to work with you. They want you to have a positive experience with them.

Be prepared. Getting a tattoo isn’t always easy. Bring a friend if you want to, make sure you’re in a relaxed state of mind. If it starts to hurt too much, ask if you can take a quick break. Just know that the pain is temporary, and you’ll end up with an awesome piece of artwork at the end of it all.

Tattooed readers, what would you recommend for someone getting their first tattoo? 

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