Serious ink addicts may often get a random tattoo on a whim without giving it a second thought. But if you're a first-timer or precious about what you ink into your skin forever-ever, it’s important to be 100% sure before the first needle hits your flesh. Here are our 8 tips for choosing the right tattoo.
- Take your time. You’re not buying a pair of shoes, so it’s important that it’s something you’re going to relate to for a long time. Be prepared to research, shop around, chat to a tattoo artist or two. If you want to get your tattoo on a significant date, e.g. your 40th birthday, start prepping and planning (at least) a few weeks before.
- How significant is significance? Is it important to you that the tattoo has real meaning, or do you just want something beautiful that resonates? If the former, think about things you are truly passionate about (and will be beyond next year). Who do you love? What do you love doing? What are the things (food, countries, people, hobbies, flowers, symbols, comic book heroes, animals, items, songs etc.) that you are most drawn to? Is there a significant moment in your life that could be represented by an image, numbers or words?
- Whether or not you have a meaningful something you want, or you’re just looking for a stunning design, research is vital - but don’t worry, this is possibly the most fun research ever. Start a Pinterest album or open a folder on your desktop or phone, and populate it with tattoo images you come across that speak to you. Look at tattoo artists’ Instagram and Facebook pages, google tattoos, look at tattoo-related websites and so on, and if something really speaks to your soul, pop it in the album. Take note of which tattoo styles you like the most – New Age, Realistic, Line Art, Tribal etc. Research your favourite styles specifically to find more fodder for your folder. Ideally, if you plan on more tattoos later down the line, you want the styles to be the same, or at least work together.
- Give thought to placement. While you’re collecting images of tattoos you like, think about where on your body you might want yours. You could have a specific place in mind, or you could have two or three contenders, dependent on the tattoo. You may see a butterfly that would look amazing on your wrist, but also be really drawn to lettering that would be perfect for your flank. Take your time and it will all fall into place.
- Get your artist to design it. When the time draws nearer, start to whittle your folder down to the ones you can’t stop looking at and imagining on your skin. Would you want it as is, or do you want to tweak or combine? As the idea starts to take shape, take your image/s to your tattoo artist, and let him or her fine tune a design just for you.
- Be certain. Once the design is finalised, make your appointment and start looking forward to the day. If you have any hesitation, think about why - and make sure you do whatever you need to, to feel 100% certain. Maybe you’re questioning the design or the chosen body part or the tattoo artist. Don’t do it unless you are certain.
- Don’t ask for too many opinions. Your tattoo artist probably has a lot to offer in terms of knowledge about placement, thickness of lines, style etc.; your friends and family not so much. Try to avoid asking for too many other people’s opinions - you will end up with as many opinions as the people you ask. And whatever you do, don’t take a posse of people with you to your appointment - it’s irritating for the artist and you could be influenced by your mate’s love of neck tattoos or your girlfriend’s thing for torso tats. It’s personal.
- Be honest if you’re not entirely happy with the stencil. When your tattoo artist places the stencil onto your skin for you to look at, it’s super important that you are happy. Don’t be shy to say you want it smaller or lower or thinner or redder. You’re not going to hurt anyone’s feelings, so speak up.
Take your time, but don’t overthink it either. It’s only forever. 😉