13 Brilliant Tips Anyone Who Wants To Get A Tattoo Should Know, Because Ink Is A Big Decision

by Lindsay E. Mack

Does it feel like everyone is getting a tattoo lately? From tiny geometric designs to splashy watercolor tattoos, the art form is everywhere. If you're ready to go under the needle, the brilliant tips anyone who wants to get a tattoo should know will make the whole process easier.

By all accounts, tattoos are more popular now than ever before. Approximately 42 percent of Americans have tattoos, according to Support Tattoos And Piercings At Work. People drop serious cash on these creations, too. About $1.65 billion is spent in the U.S. on tattoos in one year, according to Tattoo Connection. Tattooing is not only an art form that encourages creativity and self-expression, but also a giant, growing industry.

Although there are more tattoo shops and artists around, getting ink is still a big decision that takes prep work. Finding a cool artist, clean shop, and significant design takes a bit of time and effort, but the end result — a gorgeous, permanent piece of body art — is well worth the effort. By keeping these tattoo tips in mind, you're more likely to come away from the experience with a beautiful piece that will last a lifetime. Take a deep breath and get ready for the needle.


Double-Check Spelling

Tattooing a meaningful word or phrase on your body is a powerful investment. But for your own sanity, check the spelling of your tattoo before it's inked, as noted on Look in the dictionary, ask a friend, or call up your high school English teacher. If the word is in another language, have a native speaker check the spelling beforehand. This is not the time to go without spellcheck.


Try It In Henna First


Want a test run? Get a henna version of the design applied in the spot you want tattooed. Granted, this may not be helpful for an intricate back piece, but you can try out life with an anchor on your wrist for a few days.


Consider Your Career

Tattoos are gaining more acceptance in the workplace. In fact, plenty of companies, including Whole Foods, Anthropologie, and Home Depot, are considered tattoo-friendly, according to Skin Info. If you're in a more conservative field, though, consider a tattoo that can be easily covered by workwear. Bonus: you can still get a giant piece along your rib cage and no colleagues will be the wiser.


Invest In Long-Term Care

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Once you get that dream tattoo, care for it to prevent fading or scarring. In general, putting a sunblock of SPF 30+ on your tattoo every time you're in direct sunlight will protect the ink, according to Majestic Tattoo NYC. Prematurely losing those vibrant lines and colors would be a bummer.


Dress Comfy On Tattoo Day

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Dress for the occasion when it's time to get inked. Choose clothes that allow easy access to your tattoo location, and avoid anything that might be tight or constricting, according to Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company. Plus, larger tattoos may require you to stay in the shop for a few hours, so dress for comfort.


Study Your Artist

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When choosing a tattoo artist, take your time and do research. Look for portfolios that showcase clear photos of the tattoos and study them, according to KQED Arts. Do the designs appeal to you? Or does the artist need a bit more practice at creating clean lines? If you can study lots of photos from the artist, particularly healed tattoos, this is especially helpful.


Find A Good Fit

Sometimes you just "click" with a person, and hopefully this will happen with your tattoo artist. Ideally, you'll find a shop and an artist who just feel like the right fit for your next tattoo. Some people stay loyal to their tattoo artist for years, so it's well worth the effort to search around.


Find A Safe Space

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When you're scouting out tattoo shops, look for a clean, well-lit facility. (If the shop is just some rando's garage, then choose a different artist.) Finding a licensed tattoo artist who uses sterile equipment is key, according to WebMD. Feel free to ask about the shop's cleaning procedures, because non-sketchy artists should be happy to discuss them with you.


Go Sober

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Sure, it's tempting to have a drink or two before the appointment to loosen up, especially if you don't love needles. But consuming alcohol thins your blood, causing more bleeding during the tattoo process, and potentially leading to a lower-quality tattoo, according to Authority Tattoo. Staying sober for a full 24 hours prior to inking is wise.


Tip Your Artist

Hairdressers and brow waxers typically get tipped, and the same goes for your tattoo artist. It's standard to tip 15 to 20 percent of your tattoo's total cost, according to the website for The Week. Be sure to build this extra amount into your tattoo budget.


Don't Go Hungry

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To make your tattoo process more comfortable, don't go on an empty stomach. Eating a full breakfast will give you stamina to endure tattooing, according to the website for Inked. This is even more important if you're getting a tattoo of pancakes or some other tasty treat.


Think About Your Pain Threshold

Placement is an important consideration for any tattoo, but where you ink can also affect your pain level significantly. Areas that tend to be sensitive, such as the armpits, ribcage, and groin area, often produce the most pain when tattooing, according to Lifehacker. If you're super squeamish, consider the lower leg or arm.


Pick Colors Carefully

Think about your skin tone when getting colorful designs. Darker skin tones tend to look best with tattoos in rich colors like crimson red and royal blue, whereas fairer skin tones work well with red and violet pigments, according to Custom Tattoo Design. There's a whole world of color theory behind skin tone, undertones, and the shades that work best for your individual skin, so pick an artist who is versed in these ideas. Picking colors that play well with your skin will make for a long-lasting, beautiful piece.

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