1. Relax. Worrying about your design, the prospect of pain, how long it is going to take or whether it will look any good won’t make the experience a positive one. If you have done your research, left the kids with a sitter, and you know what to expect, then your tattoo encounter will be one to remember – for all the good reasons.
2. Take a book, magazine or MP3 player, some lollypops and a drink. It might take a while, and you want to be able to sit and enjoy it (well, as much as you can!). Reading might take your mind off being uncomfortable, or the music will take you away all together. The lollypops and drink mean you don’t have to leave to eat, and they’ll keep your blood sugar levels up. If you need to take someone with you, make it someone who will support your decision to get a tattoo. For example, your mom might not be such a good idea… Unless she has tattoos herself!
3. If your potential artist cannot answer any questions, find another. A good tattooist will be able to answer anything you ask of them. They should also be polite and well mannered.
4. If the bandage is too sticky to remove afterwards, soak it off in warm water. Don’t try and peel off a stuck bandage – it might damage the skin, and it’ll be extra painful!
5. New, new and new. New pots of ink and new needles – and make sure you see them open the packet. New (well, sterile) instruments, straight from the autoclave.
6. Clean, clean and clean. You, the artist, the parlor – everything. Make sure you’re in good health, and shower beforehand. The artist will be working closely, and you don’t want to put them off by a pong! Make sure the artist washes his hands, and the area to be tattooed, and wears gloves. Make sure also that the parlor has running hot water, you can see the autoclave (and that it’s working) and it looks clean. Afterwards, wash your hands before you touch your new tattoo.
7. Watch the artist to see how they operate. Visit a few parlors and compare, then go with what you feel is best. If you are not sure, don’t. It’s not a hair style that can grow out in a few weeks to look okay.
8. Wear comfortable clothes. You might need to sit down, in the one spot, for several hours. Donning your prized jeans and tight top might be great for the club (after your tattoo has healed properly), but it won’t be comfortable sitting in for long periods. If you are getting a tattoo somewhere you’ll need to partially undress, make sure you can expose the site easily. If you are uncomfortable with undressing, try lifting a top, or pulling it down, or lowering a pair of pants. Remember, though, the artist won’t be worried, and you shouldn’t either.
9. Don’t drink beforehand. Drinking thins the blood, which means you’ll bleed more, making the artist’s job harder. Also, it will be more difficult to heal, running the risk of a dodgy finished tattoo.
10. Think. Think about the design, the colors, the artist, the location (of the tattoo), the time you’ll need to put aside to get it done. Be 100% sure before you decide. Try a temporary tattoo (henna, vegetable die or decal), to see if you really like the design and/or location. And make sure you know what the tattoo means, especially if you are going for something like a Chinese character or similar. Nothing more embarrassing, or potentially offensive, than not knowing for certain what a tattoo actually says!