The decision to get a tattoo is a big one – particularly if it’s your first; you might have questions about selecting tattoo designs, finding just the right artist, and more. Here are some FAQs designed to help you through the process and make the decision that’s right for you.
What kinds of tattoo designs can I choose from?
When it comes to today’s tattoo designs, the choices are almost endless! Your first step is to browse some web sites – just do a Google search for “free tattoo designs”. Chances are, you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer variety – there’s tribal tattoos, Celtic tattoos, traditional ‘tattoo parlor’ designs, biker tattoos, Japanese tattoos, Chinese tattoos … the possibilities are endless.
Think about what inspired you to want a tattoo in the first place. Chances are, you saw a tattoo you liked on someone else – what style was it? What did you like about it?
If you know someone who has a tattoo, ask them where they got it – or just look in the yellow pages for local tattoo shops. Most places have albums of designs that you can look through. You don’t have to make an appointment for this – just drop in and ask to look at a book of designs. And while you’re there, pay attention to how the place looks and feels. Would you feel comfortable getting a tattoo there?
How much does it hurt to get a tattoo?
When it comes right down to it, that’s what most people really want to know! Actually, getting a tattoo is not very painful nowadays because modern tattoo equipment is such that the needles go in and out of your skin very quickly. You’ll be completely able to carry on a normal conversation while getting your tattoo.
Of course, depending on your tattoo designs and location, the amount of discomfort can vary to some degree. Generally speaking, tattooing over bone – where there’s little flesh or fat – hurts a bit more. So getting a tattoo on the fleshy part of your arm probably won’t hurt much at all, but directly over your ankle bone or collar bone may be more painful – though still quite bearable.
Tattoo designs can also make a difference with regard to how it feels. Tattooing lines produces a different sensation from ‘filling in’, or tattooing blocks of color. Interestingly, though, there’s quite a lot of disagreement over which hurts more! It seems to be a subjective reaction – some people find the lines more comfortable than the filling in, while others say just the opposite. Suffice it to say that neither is really all that painful.
Is it safe to get a tattoo?
If you go to a professional tattoo shop where the proper tattoo equipment is used, getting a tattoo is very safe. Decades ago there was concern about getting hepatitis C from tattoos, but this is something all professionals are very conscious of nowadays. If new needles are used for each and every customer, there is no chance of contracting a blood-borne disease. Most tattoo artists will be glad to set your mind at rest by showing you the unopened package of needles they will be using before the tattooing begins. After your tattoo is finished, they should dispose of the needles. Ask about safety policies such as these before you select a tattoo shop.
How much does it cost?
Tattoo prices vary according to the size and tattoo designs. Of course, a larger and more complex design will cost more than a smaller, simpler one – that stands to reason. To give you an idea, relatively simple tattoo designs that are quite small (about the size of a silver dollar) will usually cost about $70 or $80. Prices vary though, so the best thing to do is to ask. Bring your design – or just describe it – and most tattoo shops will be able to quote you a price right then and there.
I’ve heard that tattoos don’t look so good once you start to age. Is that true? Are there any places where you should avoid getting a tattoo?
It’s true that skin and flesh may sag in some places as you age, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your tattoo will look bad. Just use your common sense. You know roughly where skin tends to sag as you get older, so don’t get a large tattoo in those areas. A small one is usually okay, though, and there are several places where you can get a tattoo that won’t change substantially over the years – such as your ankle, shoulder or upper arm. These are the most popular tattoo locations at any rate. Keep in mind that any tattoo may fade over time though, and you may need to get it re-inked. Colors tend to fade faster than black.
What can I do if I’m dissatisfied with a tattoo?
Unfortunately, your options are limited. Depending on the tattoo design, it’s possible that it can be added to and that might make the appearance of the tattoo more to your liking. Or you can look at tattoo removal methods – they are rather costly, but the results tend to be much better than they used to be.
The key, however, is to make sure that you’re getting the tattoo you want before the inking process actually starts. That’s why the tattoo artist will apply an inked stencil to the surface of your skin before he starts tattooing – you’ll get to see what the tattoo will look like and to adjust the positioning of it if you need to. The artist will then use the stencil lines as a guide.
How old do I have to be to get a tattoo?
Usually eighteen, though this can vary from place to place. Some tattoo shops are more diligent than others about asking for I.D., so some people do succeed in getting a tattoo before they’re eighteen. It’s usually not a good idea, though. The older you are when you get a tattoo, the less likely you’ll be to regret it later on!
When should I not get a tattoo?
You shouldn’t get a tattoo if you’re drunk or high (and most tattoo shops have a policy in place about this; they’ll refuse to tattoo anyone who appears to be drunk or high or as a sign in one shop says, “just plain stupid”). The other reason for not getting a tattoo is if you’re not sure. Wait until you do feel sure or just don’t get one. This is not a good thing to feel ambiguous about. There are no specific medical considerations, but use your common sense. If you’re sick, wait till you get better.
Will having a tattoo make it harder for me to get a good job?
If you’re worried, why not get the tattoo in a place where office clothes will cover it? For men at any rate, that still leaves a lot of choices. Even if you can’t keep it covered though, in this day and age it probably won’t matter. Tattoos are a lot more socially acceptable than they ever before and in most workplaces you are judged on the basis of your ability. There are exceptions, of course; there are tattoos that are so prominent and controversial in terms of their appearance or content that they may cause problems for you, just as there are workplaces which are exceptionally conservative. You need to make sure that all aspects of your appearance fit your objectives, and that includes tattoos. But having a tattoo or two certainly won’t preclude you from being gainfully employed – not in this day and age!
Can I give myself a tattoo at home, or have my friend give me one?
Technically it may be possible, but certainly not advisable. You should have your tattoos professionally done – otherwise you’re just asking for trouble in the form of an infection or slower healing time. Do-it-yourself tattoos hurt a lot more and they seldom turn out as well as professional tattoos. All in all, it’s definitely not worth it!
I’ve heard that getting tattoos can be addictive. Is that true?
It isn’t true in the sense of a real addiction, but it is a fact that people who already have one tattoo are more likely to get another one … or so. It is possible to get ‘hooked’ on the excitement of getting a tattoo, just as some people get ‘hooked’ on shopping, but that’s not a real addiction. Most people who end up with multiple tattoos do so simply because they like them.