I did it. I got one. Well, since I thought about writing this post I got a second one. In the next few weeks, I’ll get a third.
This seems to be a common theme with tattoo enthusiasts. Many get one and then go on to cover themselves in ink. It’s beautiful. I literally lose myself on Pinterest some days just looking at tattoos. From amazing pieces of art covering backs and legs to the most subtle symbols of love, loss or friendship you wouldn’t notice until it’s pointed out.
With the larger pieces especially, I admire the patience, skill, vision, perseverance and pain threshold the artist and client share. If you were wondering, yes it hurts. A lot. Differs from person to person. Put differently, it hurts less than what people say but more than you thought. So when I see someone sporting a sleeve, chest or back piece or blackouts, I cannot help but admire the person as I only now understand the pain they went through to adorn, decorate and personify their body.
Late last year my wife decided to get our daughter’s initial and birth date tattooed on her wrist. It came out beautiful and it inspired me to get one too, as I had none at the time. I just didn’t want anything, though. So I embarked on a bit of research and these are the best pieces of advice I came across when deciding what you want to get:
- Make sure it means something specific. Don’t be vague about the intent for your tattoo.
- Be sure to balance the meaning and its artistic execution. While the meaning is important, the design and eventual application need to clearly embody the concept.
- You’ll need to match what you can afford with planned design. The larger and more intricate, the more expensive it’ll be. Also, remember that your chosen artist determines costs. The more well-known and accomplished artists will cost way more than the parlour down the street unless the one down the street stars a certain Miss Von Dee.
- Go look at as many examples of the tattoo you want on apps like Pinterest and follow tattoo themed pages on Facebook. See what it’s going to look like on skin and how artists have adapted the original design on paper to something that’ll work on skin. If your design is very unique your artist will want to see it before your session to ensure it’ll work on skin. He or she might want to make a trace of it and apply it to your skin to make sure it can be done and that it’ll look like what you intended.
Once you’ve gone through the crucible, the second phase starts and it’s as important as choosing your design. Caring for your tattoo is paramount to ensure it looks good once it’s healed. Skimping here could mean you’ve wasted your time and money. A few tips:
- Most important thing to remember: a tattoo is basically an open wound. Treat it as such.
- After the first few hours, take off the gauze and keep your tattoo open and uncovered from here on out. I know artists differ on their approach here, but with both of mine I kept them open and they healed super quickly.
- Don’t submerge the tattoo in water. Take a shower instead of bathing. Obviously, that means no swimming either. Other than not submerging the tattoo, bacteria in pool water could leave you with a nasty infection. Wash the tattoo with your hands and a little soap.
- Use a baby bum rash salve for the first 5 days. Yes, good old nappy salve (not the cream kind) helps to restore and heal the skin. Makes sense right 🙂
- During those first 5 days, you would’ve seen scabs form. That’s good. Use a little bit of moisturising cream for 3 weeks and once the scabs have peeled and a few weeks after that, the moisturising cream will help keep your tattoo looking like that day you got it.
- It’s not unusual for the ink to “leak” out of your tattoo in the first few days depending on how quickly you heal, if you tend to bleed a lot or if the weather is really warm and humid. Use a clean paper towel to blot your tattoo gently. If this continues, speak to your artist and a doctor.
- If you’re outdoors a lot, make sure to use sun cream on your tattoo as well if it’s going to be exposed to sunlight. It helps prevent fading.
- Remember, everyone’s skin is different and depending on pre-existing skin conditions and how your skin heals your tattoo might look different to someone else’s.
That’s basically it! Put the effort in pre and post tattoo and you’ll be ecstatic with the results. Communicate with the artist throughout the process as this will ensure you get the tattoo you wanted and the artist get’s the recognition when you post your tattoo pic on Instagram!
Oh and one last thing, yes it does hurt.