Okay…so now you think you know what you want. What’s next? Location, location, location. I asked my favorite tattoo artist what she recommended as far as the locale of one’s first tatt. She has two pre-teen daughters, so she had a ready answer: back of the shoulder. This is a great location because when you’re on your own time, you can see the design when you wear a tank top. On the other hand, when you’re own the boss’ clock, you can easily cover up your tatt with your work clothes.
Regarding pain, if you don’t know what your pain threshold is, I would recommend starting small. An inspiring quote or little picture will do. Painful areas you may want to avoid are places with thinner skin, like the inside of your forearms or behind the knees, or near to bone, like your foot or ribs. If you get the tatt on your shoulder and pass out, don’t get a tatt in the sensitive or near-to-bone places I just mentioned. If you find your threshold for pain is a little higher, you’re lucky: your whole body is a canvas.
Next step, find a REPUTABLE tattoo artist. I’m personally contemplating having one of the guys from Miami Ink do my next tatt, but the waiting list is 3 years. Yep, they’re that good. If you don’t want to wait that long for a famous tattoo artist, there are some practical things you can do locally. Pay attention to the tatts of people around you. If it looks fresh, chances are they got it done locally. Ask where they went. If the same name and tattoo parlor keeps coming up, you’ve got your artist. You can always look for reviews online, but keep in mind that if the reviews are old, they may not reflect the current ability of the artist you’re researching. You may also want to refine your search depending on what you want to get. Many artists have a specialty and a weakness. For example, one artist may be the best in the world when it comes to tattooing koi fish, but horrible at human faces. Ask to see their portfolios. Remember: tattoo = FOREVER.
Finally, OWN YOUR TATT. I don’t mean money-wise… When I first got my tatt decades ago, it was not so common for women to have one. I vividly remember speaking to an elderly lady (with my arm tatt covered by my blouse). We had a great conversation…until my sleeve rose and revealed my tattoo. She was clearly uncomfortable and suddenly thought different of me. If I were the secure person then that I am now, I would have said, “It’s okay–I’m still the same person I was 10 seconds ago when you didn’t know I had one”. And I would have thrown in a wink for good measure.
In the end, your meaningful, artistic, emotion-filled tattoo is solely yours. When you have the perfect design, your tattoo being forever is a blessing!
CJ Heath is the proud owner of several tattoos. She may not ever get an arm sleeve, but she’s pretty happy with the Forever Tatts she’s bearing now. Thank goodness!