Have you decided it`s time for that new tattoo you have been dreaming about? Maybe it`s your first, or perhaps you have been down the tattoo road before. There are many things to consider and some precautions to take when you are preparing to get tattooed, and I`m here to help!
Being a professional tattoo artist for many years, I can tell you about a few things you can do both before and after you get tattooed, to ensure that you have a good experience in the chair, and a fantastic looking tattoo after the work is done.
Picking your artist and studio is one of the most important things you can do when deciding to get a tattoo. Your artist can work with you and your idea to make it into the perfect piece for you, and your shape. Not all artwork makes for a good tattoo, and your artist will go over the designs you bring in, and together you will create something that both expresses your idea. And also come up with a unique tattoo that will stand the test of time. Be open to your artist`s suggestions; they have your best interest at heart.
Don`t be too concerned with price. This is going to be on your body forever. Good work doesn`t come cheap, and a reasonable job is rarely useful. If you are not willing to plan and save up for a quality piece, maybe getting a tattoo isn`t for you. Most studios take credit/debit cards to make paying easy, and some have even partnered with lenders to offer financing options, making it easier than ever for you to afford your dream tattoo.
Make sure the studio and artist you choose are licensed and insured by your local and state laws. Most places require that permits and licensing be displayed in a conspicuous area. If you do not see them when you enter a shop, ask to view them to make sure your chosen studio has all their T`s crossed, and I`s dotted. This is for your own safety. Also ask questions regarding their sterilization practices if they do not use disposable tubes, tips, and grips.
Now that you have made sure your chosen studio is legal and safe, it falls on you to prep yourself for the tattoo procedure.
Make sure the area you want to have your tattoo on is free of any scabs, cuts or burns of any kind (this includes sunburn). If you injure yourself before your appointment, reschedule and allow your skin to heal. Start with a clear area for the best looking tattoo.
If there are moles in the area you wish to get tattooed, be aware that it is not advisable for your artist to tattoo over them, so in most cases; they will tattoo around the mole. Most of the time, it is unnoticeable, your artist has plenty of experience working around these, and most likely you have discussed this in your consult. It is worth considering though if this is something that will bother you.
Before your appointment, clean and thoroughly moisturize the area to be worked on. The more your skin is in better condition, the easier it is to tattoo.
Make sure you are wearing clothing that doesn`t cover the area your artist will be working on. If this is not possible, try and make sure you are wearing something that is easy to move. For example, instead of a long sleeve top, wear something with straps that you can walk around, or instead of jeans, opt for shorts, or something with an elastic waistband. Your artist will do their best to avoid getting pigment on your clothing, but this does happen. Wear something that you don`t mind a stain on. Tattoo pigments do not come out of your dress.
When your artist is finished with your tattoo, they will tell you how to care for it. Common sense plays a big factor in tattoo aftercare. Keep it clean, don`t scratch or pick your tattoo, and make sure that you do not go swimming, or soak in hot tubs or bathtubs until your tattoo is fully healed.
Your artist will have specific instructions as to how to properly care for your finished tattoo during the healing process. Most of the time, you will be told to gently clean your tattoo with a gentle non-scented soap 2-3 times daily, then pat dry with a clean towel, and apply a thin layer of a moisturizer to your tattoo, taking care to rub it all the way in.
Your artist will have their own recommendations as to products to use to care for their work, and above all, it is best to follow their specific instructions rather than someone else`s. It is there work after all. Shops usually provide you with a care card or sheet of paper to take home with you detailing their care instructions.
Tattoos rarely become infected as a result of something that occurred in the studio during the procedure, so it is pretty much your responsibility to follow care instructions to prevent your tattoo becoming infected after you leave the shop.
Your tattoo should not scab much; instead, it should just peel a bit as it heals. If you notice a lot of heavy scabbing, consult your artist on how best to deal with it to ensure that your tattoo heals as well as possible.
Scabbing can happen if you are applying too much moisturizer during your aftercare, or if the artist overworked your skin a bit during the procedure. It occurs from time to time, and if dealt with properly, it shouldn`t be a big problem.
Most artists offer free touchups if you find something wrong with your tattoo after it healed. Make sure you ask your artists what their specific policy is regarding touchup work. Make sure to allow enough time for your tattoo to recover before deciding if you need a touchup entirely. Most symbols take between two to three weeks to heal fully.
After your tattoo is healed, the most important thing is to take care of your skin. The healthier your skin is, the more prominent, and beautiful your tattoo will remain.
Use sunscreen on it when you are going to be out in the sun. Keep the skin exfoliated and moisturized. Try to avoid picking blemishes or scrapes if they occur, as that can cause unnecessary scarring, which can ruin your tattoo.
Tattoos will succumb to a bit of fading as the years progress, but taking care of your skin will keep that to a minimum. Some tattoos require refreshment after years of wear and tear on your skin.
Some places on the body are worse than others for this, and if your artist feels that the placement of your tattoo will require future maintenance, they will most likely let you know about this in your consultation.
I hope you have found this a useful tool as you plan out your next tattoo, but above all, I hope you enjoy the experience and come out of it with a lovely piece of artwork that you will enjoy for years to come!