Choose carefully. Not just your tattoo, but your tattoo artists. Although, really partner's names is always a very bad idea. Choose something that you won't feel ashamed of when you are eighty, because tattoos will be with you for the rest of your life, unless you undergo painful and expensive lazer surgery. Check out your artist. NEVER let price enter into your decision making, If it's worth having it's worth paying for. Ask to see your tattooist's previous work. If you don't like their style, walk away. Check that your artist is experienced and has qualifications, mine even had an award! Check that they have the hygiene certificates, but more than that use your eyes. My artist had pre-packed sterile needles that he used on me. You can't be too safe when dealing with neededles!
Book your consultation. A decent artist won't accept you until they've spoken to you in person and got an idea of what you want. By all means take a picture, though some, like mine will create their own art, not imitate others.
Book your appointment. If they give you something a few months later you know they are in demand. This is good! If they see you straight away wonder why. Once you've booked ask to be put on a cancellation list. I was due in July and August, but was offered my first appointment in May!
Before you go. Take painkillers half an hour before. Anyone who tells you tattoos don't hurt are lying. It's not the worst pain you will ever experience, but it doesn't feel like unicorns licking your skin that's for sure! How much it hurts really depends on several things. If it's in a boney area it will hurt more than a fatty area. If it is large it will hurt more than a smaller one. If it has a lot of shading it will hurt more than one without. If you are getting a large tattoo lasting over 3 hours, ask for two appointments. Trust me, you will thank me for this. Your skin will need time to heal, so give it 4-6 weeks between appointments.
While you are there. Ask questions, do whatever you need to do to put your mind at rest. The first thing the artist will do is place a stencil in the area to be tattooed. This will leave an inky design that will guide them in their work. Don't touch it! If you don't like the position tell them now!
Get yourself comfortable in a position your artist directs. You may need to adjust your clothes, depending on where you plan on getting inked. I had to pull down my jeans and tuck my t-shirt into my bra! If they offer you a drink don't do what I did and politely refuse, ask for a sugary hot drink. You'll need it! I refused and my blood sugar levels dropped. Not good.
While you are in the chair/table, if your artist is willing to talk, talk. But not too much, they need to concentrate! The best ones will keep silent or say little. Lie/sit still. Accept that it will hurt and remember to breathe! Concentrate on something else, count your breathes or listen to some music. Or if you really can, try meditating like me!
Once it's over your artist should answer any questions you have and after you've had a look will patch you up. Some use cling film and tape, mine used medical patches and medical tape. Leave this on for no longer than 2 hours. They should then give you advice on keeping it clean and healthy. Follow this to the letter! You do not want an infection.
Aftercare- wash carefully, three to four times a day using a mild soap. Pat dry with kitchen towel, not toilet paper! Apply a thin layer of cream. Mine recommends either bepanthem nappy cream or the more expensive, but better, AfterInked. The artist should supply this at a charge. Your tattoo will bleed for a few hours and 'leak' ink for a few days. Simply keep it clean and wipe away any ink that leaks away. At night you may want to cover it up to prevent your clothes from getting covered. Cellophane works well, with a thin layer of cream.
Last piece of advice- Don't touch your tattoo unless your hands are clean. Never ever scratch or pick at the tattoo! No matter how tempting.
Edited by satehen, 27 May 2014 - 10:13 AM.