Getting first tattoo anxiety is normal for everyone. It’s a brand new experience that requires a huge commitment. Whether you like it or not, you need to walk around sporting the design for the rest of your life and sit through at least a few minutes of pain. When thinking about your first tattoo and what to expect, everything looks daunting on the surface. However, I’m here to tell you otherwise. As long as you learn everything I write here, getting your first tattoo will be a breeze!
Thinking About your First Time Tattoo
First, think about your budget. Technically you can get a tattoo with $100, but it will probably be a small symbol. If you want a good tattoo, you’ll need the budget for it. Full back pieces can go for over $2k, while sleeves are a much more reasonable (but still expensive) price. Why are they so expensive?
When getting your first tattoo, you are paying for both an artist to design your tattoo and ink it. If you go after cheap people, then you’ll end up with a bad design, a stolen design, an incorrect design, or an inexperienced artist that can jeopardize your health. Sounds horrible, right? So figure out your budget ahead of time and only look at high quality artists that have something in that price range!
Once you decide on an artist, go over all the details with them. Both of you should have a good idea of what you want before you go under the needle. Make sure to check out the artist’s portfolio to ensure they will give you the quality you need. Set an appointment time and remember it. Some artists charge extra if you show up late. If you have a health condition, grab a doctor’s note saying that tattoos are safe. Don’t rush to get your first tattoo—it’s something that sticks with you the rest of your life, so waiting a few days or weeks won’t hurt anything.
Before Getting a Tattoo Checklist
You probably have questions to ask when getting your first tattoo, and this quick checklist should answer all of those and more. First, tattoo placement advice! We have a whole article on tattoo placement and what it means. If you are still unsure and a bit shy, then choose somewhere like your ankle. If you just want to experience what it’s like to have others see your tattoo, then your wrist works better. This only works for small tattoos, of course—refer to our guide if you have a medium or large tattoo design in mind!
First, make sure you’re living a relaxed and healthy lifestyle leading up to your appointment. Obviously, you’ll want to stay out of the sun to avoid sunburns. Drinking lots of water and resting well are also musts. But, did you know you should also stay away from alcohol or caffeine? These affect your heart rate and effectiveness of your blood clots. Your tattoo artist will know instantly if you drank too much the night before, so don’t do it! Drinking afterwards is also a big no-no for at least a week.
You should bathe, shave your future tattooed area, and generally make yourself beautiful. Vitamin E and K helps your skin out a ton, but it’s about more than feeling nice. It’s about keeping your body odor down while someone works inches away from you for what could be hours. For the same reason, avoid perfumes and overbearing lotion scents. If your artist is allergic, those spell disaster. Simply put, stay clean and fresh. Set aside some stained or raggedy clothing for the actual appointment, since blood and ink are going to end up on your clothes no matter how hard you try to prevent it.
The last thing you want to do is think: Do I want the tattoo? If you can say yes instantly after at least a week of planning, then you’re ready to go! If you’re worried about first tattoo pain, then give this article on tattoo numbing a read.
During Your Tattoo
While you know what to do before getting a tattoo, the day of your tattoo requires a completely different set of requirements! Don’t worry, they’re not too hard to learn. First, pack all of your essentials. A fully charged phone (with a back-up battery, for large tattoos) will be your best friend. Any session that takes longer than an hour should be accompanied by snacks, water, and maybe a sugary drink. Use headphones to keep your podcasts to yourself and deodorant to keep your body odor to yourself. That covers it for personal needs.
Now, what about artist needs? Bring your ID, any doctor notes you need, and follow all the directions in the checklist section. Be on time, do some mental meditation to calm yourself, and get ready for a long sit. Cooperate with your artist until you both feel comfortable where you’re sitting. If you ever feel uncomfortable, need to sneeze, need to cough, or anything else that makes you move—tell your artist right away. Otherwise, it could ruin their work. Breaks are also typical for longer sessions, so don’t be afraid to ask!
Whether you want to talk or not is up to you. Many artists prefer silence while others chatter all day. Honesty is the only thing that really matters in your interactions. On that note, respect your artist. Stay as still as possible and listen to anything they say. If they want you to move in a certain position, do it. If it’s too uncomfortable, tell them—but sometimes these things can’t be helped and the artist needs that skin taut. At the end, if you felt good about getting your first tattoo, tip them. While getting your first tattoo, there are a few things you need to think about. If you’re thinking about something we missed, then go ahead and ask in the comments section!
First Time Tattoo Tips
Listen to any aftercare advice that your artist gives you. Your first tattoo tips come from the internet, but in the end, your artist knows best. If you find their information a bit scant, refer to our complete tattoo aftercare guide for everything you need to know. Ask them about their touch-up policy (touch ups are required on even the best tattoos as they age).
Stay healthy and keep your skin relaxed as your tattoo heals. Avoid alcohol, swimming, exercising, sunburns, and so on. To wash your tattoo properly, only use tattoo lotion meant for healing tattoos. If you have any questions, comment on this article or simply contact your artist again. Artists love hearing back from their clients, and even if you have bad news, they will quickly assist you with anything they can! Your artist is your best friend while getting your first tattoo.
Have Fun Getting Your First Tattoo!
When getting a tattoo for the first time, the whole process can look daunting. Hopefully this quick guide about getting your first tattoo settled any fears you had. More than anything, do your best to have fun getting your first tattoo! Tattoos are a wonderful form of art, and with this design, you’ll finally be entering the inked world! It’s cause for celebration, and we’d love to celebrate with you! I love hearing the stories behind first tattoos, so feel free to share your own wonderful tattoo in the comment section below. As always, thanks for reading!