I’d wanted a tattoo for as long as I could remember. I’d always been fascinated by body art — the permanence of it and the statement it makes. So, when I was 23, I made an appointment with my then roommate at the tattoo shop conveniently located beneath our apartment. I'd spent a long time perusing designs, thinking about where I would get a tattoo when the day finally came for me to pony up and stop being a chicken. But when the day came, I bypassed almost all of the questions to ask yourself before you get a tattoo. I jumped. And although my personal experience was wonderful, I don't recommend getting a tattoo on a whim. After all, it's permanent!
Lucky for me, it's five years later, and I still love my tattoo. It's simple, and it's fairly hidden (in fact, it's hidden enough that I often forget that I have it). But for every lucky tattoo experiences, there are several horror stories. Which is why it's important to sit down with this list of questions, and get real with yourself about the permanence of a tat, and why you're getting it. If you can cross of the answers to these 9 questions in a jiffy? You're ready.
1. Is This An Impulse?
Have you been thinking about this forever? Or is this an impulsive move? I have a friend who wound up at a tattoo parlor, and wishes she'd put more thought into the design and placement of her tattoo. But now? It's too little, too late.
2. Can I Look At This For The Rest Of My Life?
Before I got a tattoo, I taped a possible design on my mirror, and told myself that if I still liked it in a year, that I'd consider getting said tattoo. Big surprise, no design lasted the test of time. I'd get nitpicky, or bored with the design. The tattoo I wound up getting is conveniently situated on my back, where I don't get a chance to see it that often and may be part of the reason I still love it so much.
3. Is This The Ideal Place For It?
Wrists? Arms? Neck? Ankle? Foot? You've got your entire body to choose from, so choose wisely. If you work in a conservative environment, someplace you can hide your tattoo is advisable. If you've got no qualms about everyone being able to see your new ink, then your possibilities widen a bit. Regardless of your situation, you'll want to put thought into the placement.
4. Does It Mean Something To Me?
I'm a writer and performer by trade, and I wanted something that would represent me, and represent me always. So I got the word "storyteller" written in Sanskrit inked on my back. Not only is the design beautiful, it's meaningful to me.
5. Will It Interfere With Future Opportunities?
It's so unfortunate that I have to even touch on this point, but the fact is, people still judge books by their covers. If you're planning on a career in finance and you're about to get a full sleeve, there may be a conflict of interest.
Discrimination due to visible tattoos is definitely still a concern.
6. What If I Don't Like It?
If you're nervous about not liking it, try getting the design done in henna first. Try it out for a little while. But really, if you're on the fence about liking it or not, I'd say wait on it.
7. Am I Doing This For Myself?
Your tattoo, your body, your choice, you, you, you. Don't let yourself get swindled into a group tattoo if that's not what you want. Make sure you get what you want, when you want it. Permanent ink is nothing to mess with.
8. Am I Prepared To Take Care Of It?
Tattoos do come with a bit of maintenance, especially when you first get them. You need to be prepared to take good care of your tattoo, or else it won't turn out the way you expected. Be prepared to do your part in the process.
9. Have I Chosen My Tattoo Artist Carefully?
Did you meet your tattoo artist before your appointment? Have you seen some of their work on other bodies, or in photos? Did they draw you up a mock up of the design you've requested? How long have they been practicing? Is the shop they work out of clean? Take all of these questions into consideration before choosing an artist. When you get a tattoo, you forge a bond with the artist. And if you become an ink addict, you'll want to form a good relationship with your tattoo artist, to get their view on your tattoos. Finding someone you can trust, who will give you what you want, but not be afraid to make suggestions? That's key when choosing an artist.
Whether you're a first timer, or this is your second or third tattoo, asking yourself these questions before each addition will help you avoid ink regret. (And nobody wants ink regrets.) Though it's possible to cover up, remove, and change tattoos, it's even easier to do the footwork before you get it to ensure you love it for years to come.