If more people knew what to do before getting a tattoo, there would be less permanently misspelled, regrettable mistakes for us to mock. The popularity of the tattoo has caused the herd instinct to take over and everyone is following the last lemming off the cliff. There is nothing wrong with this; tattoos are a wonderful expression of art. The problem is a lot of people just don’t grasp the concept of forever. Getting an AK-47 tattooed on your forearm with your last name spelled in cursive is impressive to 15 year olds males but will you still feel that gangster after you graduate and move out of the frat house?
Before getting a tattoo, you will need:
- An artist you like
- Aftercare products
- Think. Before getting a tattoo, there is something even more important than coming up with the coolest idea that only two of your friends have already done. You must think. Yes, that dormant, resin clogged, pickled gray matter between your ears should be consulted. Now is the time to be critical. After you have come up with your idea, you should write it down and date it six months from now. Hell, a year would be better. Chances are you will change your mind a few times which is exactly the point! You want to come up with a symbol that reflects some core belief inside you. Tattoos without meaning are pointless and embarrassing later on in life when you have to explain why you have a Chinese dragon grasping a tribal Maori spear on your neck yet are some dopey white guy from Kansas. Also remember fat. Getting a snake eating itself tattooed around your belly button is awesome. But if you get pregnant or pudgy then people will ask rude questions about your skinny, withered worm.
- Never. There are so many things you should never get tattooed. Let us start with the obvious stuff. Never tattoo a lover’s name, a band name or a cartoon character. Never forever etch into your flesh that you love marijuana, Harley Davidson motorcycles or happen to be an ignorant racist. Japanese or Chinese characters will not make you look Zen or mysterious. Plus, unless you or the artist can read Japanese, you might spend the rest of your life wondering why Japanese people always giggle when they see you. But one of the worst tattoo sins is corporate branding. Seriously, no one cares that you are their willing thrall. Your Apple logo tattoo inspires pity rather than amazement. If you think getting a tattoo sleeve will make you instantly cool and dangerous looking, wake up. Getting one meaningless tattoo is a bad idea. Filling up an entire arm with dice, skulls, flames etc. for no good reason is worse.
- Going for it. If you have an idea that will stand the test of time, it is time to pick an artist. Start online and ask around for recommendations. Then go to the shops, talk to the artists and inspect their work. This is important, so take your time. Good artists are always booked up and you will need to make a reservation. After you pick an artist, ask about what products you will need for aftercare. The artist will also tell you how many sessions it will take to ink you.
- Getting it. Obviously you should not get a tattoo if you are drunk. Alvin and the Chipmunks holding pistols sounds great after seven or ten drinks, but any decent artist would refuse to put that on you. You should also limit your alcohol consumption the night before you get a tattoo and a couple days after as well. Alcohol thins your blood and thus, you bleed more. This can make the work messier, the healing longer and it might even wash some pigment out. And yeah, it hurts. Some spots more than others. Anything close to a bone, nipple or genital will definitely grab your attention. But this is part of it. The pain will last less than 15 minutes and then it will become merely curious in a detached sort of way.
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