Think About That Ink

Any of you who know me, know how much I love tattoos. I have three, two of which are in highly visible spots, and I’m very proud of them all. If you want to look at the two most recent, you can find them on this blog post here. Recently I made the decision that I am planning to get both sleeves done, full sleeves down to the hands, as well as both legs from the knees down and on to my feet.
Photo courtesy of Flickr
I probably won’t get them done all in one go, because I’d love to collect ink art from truly great tattooists. Besides, I don’t care WHAT I have to do, I am getting a piece by Chris Garver (you may have seen him on Miami Ink) if it kills me.
Anyway, as someone who loves their ink and has spent a lot of time learning about it and the culture around it, I want to give any of you who are thinking about getting tattooed some advice. Because despite the fact that it is fairly obvious that tattoos are permanent, people don’t always think about what they’re doing before they get one. And I will tell you now people, laser removal is not only expensive and painful, it also doesn’t work that well. So here are my tips.
  1. Think about it. Sleep on it. Make sure you are really comfortable with the design you are getting. The longer you’ve thought about it and talked about it, the more perfect it will sit with you.
  2. A cheap tattooist will give you a cheap tattoo. Cheap = nasty.
  3. Ask people who have tattoos that you admire where they got their work done. You’ll notice the same name come up on the stuff you really like again and again. Go to that tattooist.
  4. ANY good tattoo artist has his/her name as their best guarantee. They plug their name relentlessly and a quick Google search will bring up their work and reviews from their customers. We tattooed not only like to talk about our tatts, but we love to plug our tattoo artists too.
  5. If a tattooist has books or walls with stuff that you can walk up and say “I’ll have that one please” – you’re going to the wrong tattooist. Quality tattoo artists do not do “catalogue” work. Every piece is original for each customer. They may have lots of reference books to give them starting points and help you pick a look or style you want, but that’s different to catalogues.
  6. Never choose a tattoo while inebriated in any form. You WILL regret it.
  7. Remember that tattoos spread and thicken with age. This means that anything too detailed will end up blobby.
  8. A good tattoo artist will guide you in the design, fit it to the contours of your body and tell you if something isn’t going to work long term.
  9. Take reference material. Google image search the things you want done, print out a whole bunch IN COLOUR and take them with you.
  10. Check out the tattoo shop before you get your work done. Does it smell like a hospital? Bingo, that’s what you want. You want to smell disinfectant, see lots of rubber gloves and every thing they use on you should be sterile. Only the very best of tattooists can work “remotely” to high quality, so beware of getting work done outside of tattoo shops themselves.
  11. Are you Celtic? No? Then don’t get a Celtic tattoo, you’ll only look like a dick. Same goes for Maori/Pacific/Polynesian/Native American designs.
  12. Ladies, please don’t get a fairy.
  13. Getting genitalia tattooed on yourself is not classy.
  14. Nor is getting your genitalia tattooed itself.
  15. Get some good quality tattoo magazines. I love Post-Modern Ink.
  16. If the tattooist is rude, dismissive or makes you feel stupid, then they are not the tattooist for you.
  17. Any tattoo artist worth their salt will provide you with the artwork BEFORE you get anything done to you. They’ll ask you to approve it before they go any further. If you want to change something, say so straight away.
  18. Be aware that certain tattoos don’t go on certain parts of the body, and that tattoos need to face a particular way. A good tattooist will tell you this, and explain why he/she wants to mirror image a tattoo, or change the design a bit. It’s for your own good!
  19. If you have made a mistake with a past tattoo, and you want a cover up, be aware that whatever you get to cover it has to be darker and heavier than the existing tattoo. Therefore if you have a big black tribal piece and you decide you hate it… there ain’t much you can cover that sucker with.
  20. Don’t get what everyone else is getting. Cos you’ll end up hating it in a year or two. Get something that means something to YOU and that isn’t a fad or trend.
But most importantly… THINK ABOUT IT! This is something you are going to have for the rest of your life, and you will want to love it every time you look at it. You’ll want to show it off and talk about it and be proud of it. Don’t get it until you’ve really thought about it.
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September 9, 2009. advice, Chris Garver, ink, tattoos.

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