Tattoo 101

Thinking of getting a tattoo? We’ve got you covered. Here are some basics you should consider before getting inked.


Location is one of the most important things to consider when getting a tattoo. A tattoo can change not only how you see yourself, but also how others see you. When considering getting a tattoo in a visible place, even just your arms or legs, it is important to remember that other people will want to talk about it and make their opinions on your tattoo known.

This could just mean a passing complement, but it could also mean getting told to cover it up at work or even harassment. Society is accepting tattoos more now than ever, but that won’t stop a close-minded boss or family member from making unnecessary comments.

While it is risky getting a tattoo in a visible place, it isn’t all bad. Tattoo’s can spark fun conversations with strangers who like your tattoo or want to know where you got it from.

If this is your first tattoo then it is important to remember that different areas hurt more than others.

Areas with more fat and muscle hurt less than thinner or bonier areas. Generally, the most painful areas to get tattooed are knees, elbows, your spine, ankles/feet, ribs, wrists/hands, and collarbone. If you don’t know how you handle pain then area’s like your arms, legs, stomach, and shoulders.

Finding an Artist

When looking for a tattoo artist, don’t just stop at the first one! It’s important to find an artist who knows what style you want and can do it well. A tattoo artist who only does realistic portraiture may not be comfortable or good at traditional tattoos. I recommend looking through Instagram at artist’s pages and look for their websites or personal pages for their portfolio. Tattoo studios tend to link their artists and follow artists and other tattoo studios, so it’s easy to find artist’s in the area.

It’s also important to look for a comfortable tattoo studio. The artist you want to go to may be great at what they do, but if the studio they work at makes you uncomfortable or unsafe, you should prioritize that first. Looking at tattoo studios can be difficult without actually being there, but you can still get a glimpse at what it may be like from pictures. Look for how sanitary or clean the studio looks, if the artist/ artists are wearing gloves, how much privacy you would have, or if anyone in the photo is obviously drinking an alcoholic beverage.

Size and Style

It is important to consider what style and size you want your tattoo because tattoos change as they age. A large tattoo with distinct outlines will age better than a tattoo the size of a dime with no outline. As tattoo’s age, they blur and the ink expands out a bit. Details become fuzzy and details can get lost with time. A thin micro tattoo may look nice when it’s done, but in a couple years after it’s healed and blurred, many details disappear and the lines can either completely fade or blur into one mass.

When deciding what size to have your tattoo and how much detail you want, listen to your artist! They know what they’re doing, and at the end of the day, you’re going to be walking around with their art on your body and any mistakes will reflect badly on them.

Red Flags

There are many red flags you should look out for while searching for a tattoo artist. Avoid tattoo artists that are willing to copy another person’s tattoo directly. An artist should be able to take inspiration from references you bring and create their own design, but stealing someone else’s tattoo may show that they are just doing the tattoo for a quick buck, or aren’t skilled enough to create their own design. Another red flag is the artist speaking over you or changing the tattoo fundamentally. Some tattoos do need to be changed from their original designs for various reasons, but at the end of the day, this is your tattoo. Making adjustments should be something you do with your artist, not something the artist just does and forces you to accept.

Booking the appointment

Once you’ve found an artist and a studio that you feel comfortable with, it’s time to book an appointment! While looking for an artist, you may notice that some studios or artists will state that their books are closed or open. If their books are open, that means they are currently taking appointments. If their books are closed, that means they are not taking appointments. In the case that they aren’t taking any appointments, you can either wait until they are, or look for another artist. Some artists post when they have a cancellation, so it may be possible to get in at the last minute.

If you’ve found an artist who is currently taking appointments, you should find their preferred method of contact. Some artists have it in their bio, some have it in the descriptions of their posts, and some have it on their websites. After you’ve figured out how to contact them, have what you want done ready for them so they can decide if they want to do the tattoo, how much time it could take, and when they can make the appointment. Generally the artist will want to know what the tattoo is, the size, the location, the style, if you want color, and if you have a budget.


One concern that you might have while booking an appointment is price. Artists usually work by the hour, and have a shop minimum. If you have a small tattoo, there is a minimum price that the tattoo studio will charge. For tattoos that exceed the minimum, artists usually have their own hourly rates but some tattoo studios have an hourly rate for the whole studio. A tattoo artist should be able to provide an estimate before the tattoo, either after you book or during a consultation. Tattoo’s are also a service, so it is also customary to tip your artist.

Getting ready for the appointment

Now that you’ve booked an appointment, it’s time to get ready! Before your appointment you should refrain from drinking due to the fact that alcohol is a blood thinner.

I also recommend bringing water with you. Avoid anything that could bruise, burn, or break skin in the area of your tattoo, as open wounds cannot be tattooed over. Before your tattoo you should also make sure to eat a full meal and drink water. The process of getting a tattoo is strenuous to the body and eating a full meal helps prevent nausea and possible fainting.

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