It seems that every day tattoos become more and more popular, and every other person has at least one tattoo. Just because you don't see them doesn't mean they don't have one.
Not to mention that every day, tattoo shops keep popping up all over the country making it easier for anyone of legal age to walk into a shop and get some tattoo work done.
However, just because you already have tattoos, doesn't mean you know everything you should know about getting tattoos.
It's not just as simple as picking a design and sitting in the chair. Oh no, there's much more to it than that!
So here I've written up a checklist of Dos and Dont's so that you can be well prepared for your next tattoo. It might even help you create a longer lasting relationship with your artist, ensuring you're always getting the best tattoo possible.
DO have a well thought out idea of what you want before you start inquiring about prices.
Ok, here's the basics, tattoos are generally priced one of two ways:
Artists can either have an hourly rate, or they can charge you a flat price for the entire tattoo.
In both of these cases, it is nearly impossible to quote an accurate price without knowing what the details of your tattoo are going to be.
Having a visual reference for the artist, like maybe some pictures you've put together with some images that you like, can really help an artists get a better idea of what you're wanting to get. This way, they'll be able to give you a ballpark price range.
However, you won't really get an exact price until a design is finalized and the artist can determine more accurately how long it will take to complete, and how technically difficult it will be to execute.
DON'T call your local tattoo shops and ask "how much is a sleeve"
You'll have to excuse the redundancy here, but the average tattoo artist hears this question more times than they'd like to answer it. So don't be surprised if you ask "how much is a sleeve?" and you hear a response like "how long is a piece of string", or "how much is a bag of groceries"? That kind of question will start you off on the wrong foot.
DO think about where you want to place your tattoo.
Placement is an extremely important part of your tattoo process. Your artist can usually help you along with making sure the tattoo fits the body area correctly, but it's not generally their job, or responsibility to tell you where to put your tattoo.
Just like choosing a design concept, deciding the placement is ultimately your choice. Pick your placement wisely as this can have serious repercussions down the line, which you may not expect. I'll cover more on this in my next point.
DON'T even think about tattooing your hands, neck or face unless you're already heavily covered.
Although, as I mentioned before, the placement of your tattoo is ultimately your choice, many tattoo artists will be reluctant to tattoo these highly visible areas if you're not already covered in tattoos, and there's a very valid reason for this.
Hand, neck, and face tattoos, are the ultimate "Fuck you" to society. As if tattoos in general are not rebellious enough, tattooing these particular areas can automatically bar you from many job opportunities in the future.
When people see such visible tattoos, they automatically assume that you're heavily tattooed, or can even stigmatize you or consider you to be gang related, even if that one music note on your hand is your only tattoo.
DO research on your artist before comitting to a tattoo.
It's quite common for people to think that just because they're getting a small tattoo that it should be simple and any artist should be able to do it.
That is NOT TRUE.
Even a small tattoo can come out jacked up if your artist is not experienced enough.
Be sure to examine your artists portfolio and check that you like the quality of their work. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and every tattoo artist should have a book full of pictures of their best tattoos. This photo album is your best "heads up" warning you, or letting you know ahead of time if your artist has the chops or not. Use it.
DON'T just walk into any random tattoo shop.
Like just about anything in life, there is the good, the bad, and the ugly. That being said, not all tattoo shops are created equal. Nowadays there's a tattoo shop on every other block. If you live in a big city, chances are, not every shop is going to be great. Make sure to check out your shops online reviews, and their roster of artists. This way you'll be able to compare and contrast artwork, and tell just how well they'll be able to perform your tattoo.
You may also notice along the way that some shops are more expensive than others. This is usually directly influenced by the quality of artists they keep. The better the artist, the pricier the shop.
Remember, in the world of tattoos, there is one saying that will hold forever true, "Good tattoos ain't cheap, and cheap tattoos ain't good". You'll do well to keep that in mind.
DO eat something before you come in for your big tattoo session.
This may seem like a minor detail, but believe it or not, sitting in a chair for several hours getting a tattoo will drain a lot of your energy.
Eating a good meal before your tattoo, will ensure you have the energy to get through your session without incident.
On the other hand, neglecting to eat can lead to a drop in blood pressure which, in some cases can cause you to feel dizzy and/or pass out.
Now, this doesn't mean that you will definitely pass out if you don't eat, but you'll certainly be increasing the chances.
Even having some sugary snacks with you so you can munch during your breaks can really help you keep your head in the game.
DON'T show up drunk or hung over to your tattoo appointment.
Most people know not to do this, but don't really understand why. Unlike the exaggerated urban legends, you're not going to hemorrhage and bleed to death if you drink before a tattoo. Alcohol, however, does thin your blood, and that extra bit of blood can make the tattoo process more difficult for the artist. This, can result in overworked skin, and a longer healing time for your new tattoo.
Being hungover can also increase your chances of blacking out at some point during your tattoo, and nobody wants that.
Do bring your ID
This might seem like common sense, but it needs to be mentioned for a reason. Just because you look old enough to buy cigarettes doesn't mean you can walk in a tattoo shop without ID and expect get work done.
Tattoo artists usually need a copy of your ID for their own records to show to the health department that they are not tattooing minors. The health departments are usually very strict about how artists keep and maintain their records and having a copy of your ID is usually a state requirement. It's not just a matter of the artist giving you a hard time about your age.
And last but not Least
DON'T FORGET TO TIP YOUR ARTIST!
This is important. Like, really important.
It's never mandatory that you leave a tip, but it is as customary as leaving a tip for a server at a restaurant. At least it should be.
Consider that the full price of your tattoo is not going into the artists pocket, just like the full price of your meal is not equal to the servers pay.
Artists generally have to pay "shop fees". These fees are usually a percentage of the total cost of your tattoo . This percentage can be as high as 50-60% of your final price. So leaving a tip is not just a nice thing to do, it also helps supplement the artists pay at the end of the week.
As for how much should you tip, like with any service industry, that depends on how happy you were with with your tattoo experience.
Follow these simple Dos and Don'ts and I promise you, you'll have a smoother and more pleasant experience every time you go get a new tattoo.