I remember how long it took me to plan my first tattoo. For years, I thought about the kind of tattoo I wanted. At first, I wanted a quote that I live by on my ribs. I swore this was destined to be my first tattoo – but as time wore on and as I planned it, I came to realize that the quote was too long, the placement too awkward, and it didn’t feel right. When I finally settled on something, it felt so good to see that bucket list item through!
Planning to get any tattoo takes time and thought, but your first is a different story. It took me three years to think of my first and only a few months for my second. I thought, for anybody going through the turmoil of what their first tattoo should be, that a few guidelines would be helpful. Sometimes, you just have to take a step back, simplify, and trust your instincts.
Figure out an aesthetic. Do you like colour or black and white? Fine lines or large images? Dainty or large? Cursive or printing? Cartoon or abstract? Just like any type of art, there’s a lot of different styles of tattoos and while they all have merit in their own ways, they aren’t always suited to you. An example? I’m a huge fan of floral sleeves. I think they’re absolutely stunning. But, a sleeve wouldn’t personally suit me and I don’t like coloured tattoos on my skin – knowing this sort of allows me to appreciate things from afar and consider more reasonable alternatives.
Choose something with meaning. The more meaningful your idea, the less likely you are to become sick of it after some time. No matter how you cut it, a tattoo is a piece of art carved into your skin – you’ll have that bad boy forever! If it has meaning, you will never tire of looking at it.
Consider the design for a while before you commit. I thought I had my first tattoo planned and figured out and I was into it. I took some time trying to find an artist, and while doing that, became sick of my idea. Common sense: if you get sick of a design after a few months, it shouldn’t be on your body. Considering something for a while before you commit is smart. Your taste or ideas may change, and the worst thing is for that to happen after you’ve been tattooed.
Find an excellent tattoo artist. With anything, you get what you pay for, and tattoos are no different. The more you pay, the better the quality of the art. It’s relatively common knowledge that tattoo prices are exorbitant, but there’s a reason for this! Go for a studio that has won awards and has glowing reviews across the board – even if they’re much more expensive than the one around the corner from your house. Word of mouth is valuable, too. Nothing represents an artist better than their actual work, so ask your friends or family who also have tattoos where they got theirs.
Placement is key. The location of a tattoo is everything. Your tattoo’s placement matters because it’s part of the art. If you are in a profession that is quite conservative in nature, you need to think about the type of tattoos you allow to peek through. A lot of professions are improving on their attitude towards tattoos, but even still, it may not be appropriate if you’re a teacher with a forearm tattoo of a nude woman.
The size matters as well – I wanted a specific, small tattoo between my shoulder blades and my artist explained why the design should be larger to suit the space. He was right, and I’m glad I trusted his opinion.
Bottom line – life is short and tattoos are a lovely way to express yourself. Think hard about what you commit to and try to get something that reflects who you are as a human being. Those are always the most beautiful!
Do you have any tattoos? What do they mean to you? Share with us in the comments!