The idea of getting a tattoo always scared me beyond words. However, this December, I found myself sitting on Timur Reda’s tattooing chair, waiting for the needle. Less than a month before, I had lost my father in a car crash. It was then that I knew that I wanted a tattoo and knew exactly what I wanted. I designed it, did some research beforehand and got it done as soon as I could. Since getting a tattoo is one of the most unique experiences one could ever have, here is a list of tips from my tattoo artist – Timur – and I.
1) You must be positive about your tattoo
I was astonished when Timur told me that many people walk into a tattoo parlor not knowing what they want. When he asked them to sleep on it they would say, “If I don’t do it now I might never do it”. Do you really want to live for the rest of your life with a random tattoo that you saw in a magazine? I doubt it.
Think about something that means a lot to you and wait until you are sure of it. Otherwise you will most likely regret it. It could take you months or even years to know for sure. I wasn’t sure about mine until I was 25 although I wanted a tattoo since I was 18.
“Do you really want to live for the rest of your life with a random tattoo that you saw in a magazine? I doubt it.”
2) Don’t let the fact that it is permanent scare you too much
This does not negate the previous point. You need to know for a fact that you will not regret it. However, don’t let the permanency scare you. Tattoos can be removed with skin grafts and laser. There are also cover-up tattoos.
3) Carefully choose your artist
This is vital! Do not go for an artist just because they’re cheaper or closer to where you live. Research different tattoo artists, look at their portfolios and decide whose work you like the most.
4) Breakfast of the champions
Before you go to your appointment make sure you have a hearty meal. Eat about three hours before you get your tattoo. You might also want to have a sweet drink or an energy bar to snack on halfway during the procedure. You do not want to feel faint while getting a tattoo.
5) Going drunk is not an option
Let’s face it, nobody likes needles. The idea of being poked with them for an hour or longer isn’t encouraging. This is not an excuse to go to the tattoo artist drunk. Timur told me how badly it can affect the tattoo experience, “Drinking thins out the blood and if the person bleeds more it makes the job difficult for the tattoo artist”, he says, “also, the pain factor becomes more elevated”. It goes without saying that drug consumption is also unacceptable.
“Do not go for an artist just because they’re cheaper or closer to where you live. Research different tattoo artists”
6) Listen to your tattoo artist
Brainstorm together. You might end up with something that works better than what you’ve had in mind. This happened to me. Timur suggested I would change the placement of my tattoo. We discussed it together and came up with a placement that works best with the design I made.
7) Don’t shave before your appointment
Any scarring you might give yourself will damage your skin, which is your tattoo artist’s canvas. Wait until you are there and your artist will shave it. This might not even be necessary as some areas have very little hair. I went in there expecting to be shaved in preparation but that never happened.
8) Follow your artist’s aftercare tips very carefully
You’ve spent so much time, effort and money on getting a tattoo. Nothing would be worse than for it to be ruined because you could not play by the rules. Your tattoo artist will give you aftercare instructions and you must follow them.
Tattoo artist’s words of wisdom for first-timers:
– Don’t go too big, don’t overreach.
– Stick to what you’re familiar with. What’s important is what it means to you.
– Don’t go for painful places for your first tattoo.
– If you want to be able to see it, pick a visible spot. If you want it private, go for that. You’re a clean canvas.
– When it comes to the pain, expect the worst that you could. If you go in really anxious, expecting it to be awful, you’ll realize it’s not really that bad.