In 2005 aged 23, I had just returned home from travelling in post-tsunami Indonesia. I was chatting with my Mam one day and out of nowhere she asked, ‘Have you ever considered getting a tattoo?’. Eh hello! Is a bear a catholic!?! I’d been into piercings early on and it was a slim line keeping me from the ink, but why did Mammy care? She, like most parents, had been vehemently anti-tattoo up to this point.
So it turns out while I was off gallivanting, poor Mam watched a documentary about the tsunami and was really horrified to learn that some people had to be buried without identities as they couldn’t be identified before burial. It had gotten her thinking that, should the unthinkable happen to me while away, how could she identify my body, and a tattoo seemed to be the obvious answer. I didn’t argue too strenuously, odd and all as the reasoning seemed.
I most definitely didn’t start this blog for tattoos but as any of you know I am a MASSIVE fan and could talk about them all day. I know when I was considering getting one, way back when, the good old internet provided an absolute wealth of knowledge, advice and images, so I thought maybe someone might get something from my tales, because I learnt some good things along the way. So here goes:
- Overall Position is imperative. Consider all sorts of things like, can it be hidden if I have a job interview, or I want to get married some day, how frequently is that part of me exposed etc. It’s easy to think my college buds will think this is awesome, but will your potential future boss?
- Actual position is important: I’ve met a lot of people who were so focussed on what limb they were getting it on, they put little thought into exactly what position they wanted and ended up with tattoo’s slightly off kilter. Now slightly off kilter’s fine if it’s a jaunty cap, not so awesome, if it’s a committment you’re making for the rest of your life.
I’d suggest drawing a sketch in permanent marker the size of your imagined tattoo and wear it for a bit. You’d be surprised how quickly you’ll know if its wrong. Remember the ‘Stars on her Face Lady’??
- Colour V’s Black and White. Everyone has a preference in this area, both have pro’s and con’s. I’m a two-tone lady myself, colour fades and requires maintenance for life, B&W, not so problematic. Think of the long-term life-time of your tattoo, not just how lovely it will look at the start.
- Research. Research. Research Google, search images, check out people’s on the street, the whole shebang. When you decide on what you want, Google it again to make sure it is what you think it is. We’ve all heard the urban tales about people getting exotic symbols thinking they mean one thing and finding out later they were from local restaurant menus. Even animals and flowers, that mean one thing in Ireland may mean something very different in another culture. That could get awkward. Be informed
- Now this one is purely personal, but if you’ve not been together a minimum of 5 years, NO NAMES OR FACES!
The amount of people I know who’ve lived to regret this is phenomenal. Personally if someone came home with me tattooed on them in some shape or form I would die. Tattoos are for life, people are often not. Maybe, MAYBE if you own half of their possessions, but still…well, its risky.
- Find an artist that’s personally recommended to you. I would never deviate from this. They could show you anyones portfolio, the only way you’ll really know is if they’re personally recommended. Also make sure they’re in a clean shop and are using rubber gloves, sterilised needles etc. If you’re even a bit suspicious don’t take a chance. Also be careful of ‘cheaper’ options, you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
- Get to know some lingo. Most tattoo artists are lovely people but they get asked really crazy questions like ‘How much would a tattoo of a ‘insert random object’ be?’, most artists charge per hour, so it totally depends on the detail you require, not the size. Things like ‘Does it hurt?’, I mean, you know they do! S/he’s not going to lie to you! Try and figure out some of the basics yourself, chat to people you know who have tattoos you like and get as much info as you can, even bring them with you to the shop with you. Lure them with promises of cake. Everyone loves cake.
- Don’t rush into it. Give yourself at least a few weeks, but preferably a few months. Not to put yourself off, but to give yourself time to do the necessary research.
- Pet Peeve of mine, purely personal observation, but I would never take a tattoo from a book.
The book is for ideas. A good tattoo should ‘fit’ you, curve naturally with your own muscles and joints, if it’s from a book it’s not specifically designed for you. There are enough decent artists out there who can give you your own piece to be necessary. If you look at something like this piece you can tell that this was customized for the lady’s leg by the shape, the difference between a good tattoo and bad.
- For the love of all things good follow your after care advice from your artist. Do not Google ‘How to look after a tattoo’ or anything else. Your artist will have issued you a care sheet, follow it to the letter and it will heal great. Don’t take advice from friends. Not on this issue.
I think that’s really it. They are sore. How sore totally depends on where you’re getting it, how big it is, your own personal threshold etc. but many have survived it before you.
It smells like antiseptic and the noise of the ink machine sounds like a dentists drill. Eat before you go, the bigger the piece, the more you should eat.
The first couple of days after you literally leak ink out of you which is gross, then they get unbelievably itchy, but you can’t scratch, and then done. When at scratchy time, I like to relieve myself by furiously applying my recommended after care product, its not classy, but it helps. Within a week it just needs a good moisturise where possible and within a month you won’t be able to remember not having it.
I’ll post on my own tattoos over the coming weeks.