Getting A Tattoo 101

By | February 19, 2014

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Thinking about getting a tattoo, or searching for a new tattoo artist or shop? The information on this page gives you the answers to the following questions and more.

Why do you want to get a tattoo?

Does it hurt?

How do I find a reputable artist and tattoo shop?

What should I do before getting a tattoo

This page contains a lot of information. Even though it may take you some time to read this information it will be time well spent. Making the right decisions before you sit in the artist’s chair will make the difference between getting a tattoo that you love or one you regret for the rest of your life.

1. What is the reason you want a tattoo?

There are many different reasons why people get a tattoo. Some of the reasons are valid and others are not so good.

Remember the decision is YOURS and that decision will last a lifetime.

Consider and think about your reason(s):

• Why do I want this particular tattoo?

• To please someone that is currently in your life. Think: Are they going to be there forever, the tattoo will be? Do you want to have their name or image tattooed on you forever?

• To belong to a particular group, culture, lifestyle. Think: Will this be a part of my life or my lifestyle forever? If so great, but if you don’t know then carefully consider your decision.

• Will you still want the tattoo design you are considering 30 years from now? Only you know.

• Are you being pressured to get a tattoo, when you are not 100% sure? If you are not sure if you should get a permanent tattoo, you may want to try out your design with an airbrush or temporary tattoo .

• Consider your current or future employment. Do they frown on tattoos that are visible? If so, get your tattoo in an area that can be easily covered up, instead of your head, neck, face, hands, lower arm, or other areas that are visible all the time.

• Are you planning on getting a tattoo from a reputable artist or from a friend or “scratcher” (amateur with no training or knowledge) in a basement and charges you $20?

Remember you get what you pay for!

A beautiful and professionally done tattoo is not cheap ($100-$300 per hour) and you will not have to spend thousands of dollars getting it removed or covered up.

Bottom Line: It’s your tattoo, and what you get, how you get it, and where you get it, is YOUR DECISION!!!

2. Does getting a tattoo hurt?

• Short answer: YES, but…

• It varies from person to person and how you tolerate pain. Most, not all, say getting a tattoo is not as painful as they thought.

• It depends on the area of the body that is being tattooed. Areas that have loose skin (under side of arm, inner thigh, etc…) and areas that are directly above bone (head, shin, wrist, foot, etc…) are typically more painful than other areas. Getting a tattoo on the lower back is also another area that can be very painful, but when they are done professionally they look AWESOME!!

• The type of tattoo needle that is being used, and how fast the artist runs his tattoo machine can make a difference in the amount of pain a person will feel. Personally, the shading needles (used for shading and color) are more painful than the single needle used to outline the tattoo. Other people feel that the reverse is true.


Alcohol and aspirin thin out your blood, making you bleed excessively and hampers the blood from clotting. Respect your artist, and like you, they do not want to deal with someone who is “stoned” or drunk. Most

states prohibit tattoo shops and artists to tattoo anyone who is intoxicated.

3. How Do I Find A Reputable Tattoo Artist?

• Do not get a tattoo from a “scratcher” – a person who has not been professionally trained, does not have an extensive portfolio of their work, offers you a tattoo for very low price, and did not apprentice under a professional tattoo artist.

“Scratcher’s” will:

• Not use properly sterilized tattoo techniques, processes, and equipment.

• Cause you harm, give you an infection (Hepatitis B), or worse.

• Give you a tattoo that you will regret forever.

• Not have a portfolio of his/her work

• Not work in a reputable tattoo shop

• Offer you a tattoo at a very cheap price, or for free.

This is worth repeating: You Get What You Pay For!!

There are many ways to find a great artist or a reputable shop:

• Check the yellow pages for local tattoo shops.

• Look for tattoo shops on the internet.

• Referrals from friends and family.

• Tattoo Magazines. (Tattoo, Tattoo Savage, Tattoo Flash)

• Check the artist’s references.

• Tattoo Conventions.

4. Before getting a tattoo you should:

• Visit the shop, go in walk around and become familiar with the shop atmosphere. Tattoo shops for a person getting their first tattoo can be intimidating, and overwhelming.

• Pay attention and find out about the shops sterilization procedures (ask?).

• Talk with the artist, check out his/her portfolio, ask for their advice on the design that you want. This will also let you get to know the artist, if he/she is rude, won’t give advice or answer questions…Take your money and business somewhere you will feel comfortable and valued.

• Getting a tattoo of custom design? Discuss this with the artist and get their opinion and suggestions, but you make the final decision.

• Do not just walk into a shop and plan on getting a tattoo, take your time, and research. The last thing you want is to get talked into a design that you will regret later. Set an appointment, if you can, to meet and discuss your tattoo with them (how much time it will take, price, changes, etc…). If you are comfortable, set an appointment to get your tattoo done, if not take your business elsewhere.

• Reputable shops/artists do not limit you to just the “flash” they have hanging in the shop. They should have an artist that does custom and “flash” tattoo designs.

• Don’t bargain shop, barter on the price (unless the cost is unrealistic). Most tattoos are priced in the $100-$300 an hour range (depending on the design, size, and body location). Reputable shops post per hour charges. Quality of the artist’s work, sterilization techniques, and customer treatment is more important than a $50-$100 difference in price.


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