Tattoo Etiquette: The 5 Do’s Before Getting a Tattoo

Tattoos need serious thought and consideration. Showing up randomly outside a tattoo shop and demanding a tattoo be done ASAP is not the way to go. You don’t want to piss off the person who will be sticking needles in your skin, right? So, before you get inked, read all about proper tattoo etiquette – and the do’s and don’ts of getting tattooed.

DO think before you ink

Tattoos are permanent. Are you sure you want that ink on your skin forever? It won’t always look as good. In a few months or years, it’s going to start fading. How will you feel about it then?

Here’s what you can do to help ensure your decision is the right one:

  • Weigh the pros and cons of getting a tattoo. How will it affect your life? Will it make you happy? Will it have any effect at work, i.e. how will your employers react to your tattoo?
  • Sit on your decision for a month or two – or a year! It’s a momentous decision that will have an effect on the rest of your life. You will see it everyday. Can you live with that knowledge – and that sight?

A spur of the moment tattoo usually leads to regret. This is why there’s a rising number of people getting their tattoos removed. And you know what’s really not great about tattoo removal? It’s far more expensive and more painful than getting a tattoo in the first place!

DO schedule an appointment

There are some tattooists who accept same day walk-ins. But for really talented artists, they’ll be booked months in advance. This is especially true for artists whose work is displayed on celebrity skin. These celebs go on social media to show off their new ink, gives a shout out to the artist, and voila! The artist’s schedule is suddenly booked solid for the foreseeable future!

Now, of course, not everyone’s so fortunate to have a full calendar. But still, it’s good practice to schedule an appointment before heading to the parlour. This gives the tattooist ample time to prepare for the inking session ahead.

DO have a design concept ready

People get tattoos for a variety of reasons. Some do it for sentimental reasons. Others do it because they want to immortalise something, and they want a constant reminder of that special person/place/event/etc. Still, others do it for the experience. No special reason, they just want to have a beautiful work of art on their skin.

Many tattoo artists are actually artists. So, don’t be afraid to share your design concept and ask for their input – they’d absolutely love that. Tattooists usually focus on a particular style and you can ask to see their interpretation of your concept.

If you don’t have a design in mind, you can try asking if they have pre-designed artworks available. Many tattooists also proudly display their best work in their shop or in their social media accounts. Tell them if you like a specific design, maybe they can help you create a more personalised design – something that will look good on you and be uniquely yours.

DO observe proper hygiene

Your tattooist will be working on your skin. You don’t want to disrespect them by showing up dirty and downright smelly. They’ll literally have their nostrils just a few centimetres above your skin – they need to do this to ensure they’re hitting the right spots.

Yes, the tattooist will be cleaning up the area they’ll be working on. And you don’t need to worry about shaving the area in advance, they can do that at the parlour. But it doesn’t mean they’ll willingly breathe through their mouths the entire time just to avoid smelling you!

You don’t want your artist to pass out in the middle of your session. So, please do observe proper tattoo etiquette by cleaning yourself up on the day of your appointment.

DO tell your artist about any existing medical conditions

A licensed tattooist will ask you if you have any existing medical conditions. Most likely, they’ll have a form ready for you to fill out. Don’t think you’re doing yourself a favour by hiding the truth from them.

What your tattooist will do on your skin is technically a minor medical procedure. He will puncture your skin with a tattoo machine, so that ink can be inserted in the dermis. While the wound isn’t going to be all that deep (the dermis is just a few millimetres below the skin’s surface), a million things can still go wrong with the procedure.

For instance, you may have a reaction to the ink or to the pressure being applied on your skin. If you have severe psoriasis or eczema, a tattoo may not be for you. If you’re prone to keloids, you may develop multiple keloids from the tattooing process. You may also not be physically capable of withstanding the pain.



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