So you’re thinking about getting inked, huh? A lot of people want to get a tattoo as part of their bucket list journey, but many are afraid of the pain or scared that they might change their mind later. Here’s what you need to know before your first tattoo experience.
Pain Is Relative
The first thing most people want to know about getting tattoos is how much it hurts. The answer is, unfortunately, “it depends.” Your personal pain threshold is a factor. So is the location of the tattoo. Generally speaking, tattoos that are closer to bones (such as your ankle) hurt more than, say, your arm or back.
A lot of people assume that the pain is similar to getting a shot. There are needles involved, right? Well, it’s actually more like a prolonged scratch or burning, buzzing sensation. The tattoo needle moves very, very fast and doesn’t penetrate nearly as deep as a flu shot.
One word of warning: don’t take painkillers before you get inked! NSAIDs like aspirin can make your tattoo bleed more than normal during the process. That might lead to the artist cancelling your session for safety reasons.
Choosing Your Design
For your very first tattoo, consider getting a design that’s meaningful to you instead of choosing something off the wall. Why not get a bucket list two-fer by designing a tattoo to commemorate an experience, travel memory, or milestone that holds a special place in your heart?
Here’s a fun trick to see if you’ll be happy with your tattoo. Buy some temporary tattoo paper and print out the design. Stick it on and wear the image for a couple of days. Do you like the placement? Do you wish you’d chosen a different design? That’s important stuff to figure out before you get inked!
Do Your Homework
Choosing a tattoo artist is as important as selecting a design. Research artists online—Instagram is a great place to see tattoo portfolios—and get a sense of what styles appeal to you. You can then contact an artist for a consultation. They’ll be able to give you a sense of how long your piece will take, how much it will cost, and whether your design idea is even feasible.
A very small tattoo—the size of a quarter—in a single color will be fast and relatively cheap. However, be prepared to sit for hours over multiple sessions if you want a larger, more detailed piece. And be prepared to pay for it, too. Be wary of bargain-priced tattoos—and please don’t haggle with the artist. They work hard, and their expertise is worth the money.
Once You Pop…
Did you notice how this article is all about your firsttattoo experience? The implication is that the first one won’t be your last. Tattoos are addictive! The rush of adrenaline and endorphins you get afterwards is a little bit like a runner’s high. You’ll also probably want to add to your collection of ink—in fact, you might even start planning your next tattoo before you leave the parlor!