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Everything you need to know before getting your first tattoo

You’ve been planning your first tattoo for weeks, maybe years, and now you’re finally ready to make the commitment. Are you prepared?

Before you make your appointment, consider these rules — getting your first tattoo shouldn’t be something you do on a whim. This checklist will help you make sure you’ve covered all of your bases before you dive in.

Research your design. Is it for a family member, religious purpose, motivational quote or just something you freakin’ love? Search through Google, Pinterest or Instagram and see if there’s anything that stands out. Want something totally original? Sketch it out yourself! Even if you’re not a great artist, it will be helping when communicating your vision to an artist.

Where do you want it? Brainstorm where you want to get your tattoo on your body. There are great companies who even can print a “trial version” for your tattoo! Also keep in mind that some spots are more painful than others, and some careers are less welcoming of visible ink (but there’s always tattoo makeup for that).

Investigate tattoo shops and artists in your area—or not in your area! Check out the artist’s social media accounts and personal website to get a feel for the style they enjoy (it’s always best to find an artist whose style matches yours, rather than having someone try and match a style they don’t typically do). Now’s also the time to read reviews.

Save up those funds. 

Don’t miss out on the tattoo of your dreams just to save some cash. After you find your dream artist, make sure you get a cost estimate so you can save accordingly.

Schedule a consultation.

It’s always a great ideas to get to know your artist and discuss your design before the big day. Also check out their equipment and overall cleanliness—ask questions about sanitation, etc.

Work with your artist on the perfect design. 

So you have your inspiration and sketches, now to let the artist work their magic and make it something totally unique. Your artist will likely add his or her own flair to the piece—just make sure it still matches your vision! Don’t be afraid to speak up with any changes you’d like made.  

Schedule your appointment. 

Choose a day that you won’t be rushed, have the time to properly prepare and relax afterward. Depending on the length of your session, getting a tattoo can be draining! You may also need to pay a deposit at this time.