So, You Want to Get a Tattoo?
So, you want to get a tattoo?
“A tattoo is a true poetic creation and is always more than meets the eye. As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition.” – V. Vale
As a heavily tattooed person, I totally understand craving new ink, and I remember the excitement of getting my first tattoo. It may sound cheesy or cliché, but I lust after that low buzzing sound like most women desire makeup, shoes, or designer jeans. Even though societal views on tattoos have changed over the past few decades, they are still taboo. People with tattoos are thought to be deviants, unemployable, or less clean. People tend to assume that we put little to no thought into the art we choose, and instead choose designs at random. Getting a new tattoo is more than just picking a cool drawing and going with it, though. This is a permanent decision, and does require some thought. The next time you see a heavily tattooed person, ask them about their tattoos. Ask them which is their favorite and why. Ask the story of their first tattoo. I guarantee you that they will have stories.
For example, here’s a summary of my story:
I have never been particularly comfortable in my body, and I felt a sense of deep satisfaction with my skin on the best days. I struggled with anxiety, depression, and self-harm. My first tattoos were my children’s names on the insides of my wrists to cover scars. To remind myself what I was living for when times got hard. After getting my first tattoos, I was addicted; and, I learned that the more tattoos I got, the more comfortable and confident I felt with myself. You can literally read my life story just by looking at me. Where I used to feel less than, I now feel like the art on my skin makes me beautiful.
I myself am now a work of art.
“Heavily tattooed women can be said to control and subvert the ever-present ‘male gaze’ by forcing men (and women) to look at their bodies in a manner that exerts control.” – Margo Demello
If you aren’t tattooed yet, but you’re thinking about it, there are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Make an appointment
Most studios will take walk ins on a first come first served basis, but it’s best if you call ahead. You’ll usually be required to pay a deposit of the shop minimum to hold your time slot, and that deposit is credited toward the total cost of your tattoo. Making an appointment means that you aren’t waiting in the lobby for hours, and your artist is rushing to finish your tattoo.
2. You get what you pay for
Everyone is friends with someone who is friends with a “tattoo artist”. They’re totally cool with coming to your house and tattooing you for super cheap (or FREE)! Seriously. Get away as fast as you can. Not only could this be potentially fatal (think nasty infections or transmittable diseases), but these “artists” don’t usually provide the quality of work you’d receive in a legit tattoo studio.
3. Hydrate and eat
You know how if you donate blood on an empty stomach you feel woozy? Same deal applies with getting tattooed. So, for a few days before your appointment step up your hydration game and be sure to eat a full meal before heading to your appointment.
4. Think about what you want
Keep in mind that this is permanent, unless you’re going to later have it removed with lasers or whatever. Make sure that the tattoo you choose is something that is right for you. Don’t choose a design because it’s trendy. Chances are that 5 years from now, it won’t be so trendy. Think about how your chosen design will impact your career. Is the design something that you’re okay with everyone seeing? Even your grandma? Is it something you want to see every single day for the rest of your life?
5. Don’t stiff your artist
Please, for the love of everything good in the world, tip your artist. These amazing folks usually work for commission. Don’t take up hours of their time and leave them empty handed. The standard tipping rate for tattoos is 15-20%. If you get a $200 tattoo, a good tip would be about $50.
“Wear your heart on your skin in this life.” – Sylvia Plath
Be safe. Happy inking.