Getting your first tattoo can be an exciting and scary time!
It is, after all, a change to your body for life and therefore should be taken seriously. That said it is also important to enjoy the process and the experience.
Ultimately you will never know how you will feel about your decision to be tattooed in ten or 20 years time but considering this can only be a wise thing.
From my ten years of experience people get tattooed for all different reasons, some for fun, some for meaning, some appreciate the art, some rebel and many more reasons.
We are all individual and everybody’s reason has value and is personal to them, there’s no judgement here. Whatever your reason I would still suggest you consider these fundamental points before getting your first tattoo.
1 – Health & Safety Of The Artist Or Person Doing The Tattoo
A tattoo is a permanent change to the body and involves penetrating the skin with needles! Obviously this will involve bleeding which means all sorts of infections and diseases can be contracted. A untrained tattooer can also leave scares.
The personal hygiene of a person, the tools they use and the area they carry out the work are crucially important to your safety. Don’t be afraid to change your mind if you feel uncertain.
2 – The Size & Placement Of The Tattoo
Easing into anything is wise, especially in tattooing. I would personally not tattoo a neck, hand or face if it’s a person’s first tattoo. It’s not my role to play god but from a place of integrity and experience, many people regret these bold statements further down the line if they haven’t first developed and fully understood how the world may perceive you once tattooed. We can argue all day that people shouldn’t judge but afraid that’s life and society, my friend.
I have and do tattoo sleeves on people for a first tattoo (not in one sitting, obvs) but everyone I have done this for has considered this for a long time. They have given it a lot of thought and taken the time to work with an artist on planning and design.
There is nothing wrong with a larger tattoo, to begin with in my opinion, being a artist I tend to prefer large work as it allows for more detail. However, I believe pros and cons should be discussed and the decision shouldn’t be taken lightly.
This leads me to ‘pressure’ artists like myself are often likely to want to make the artwork bigger because it suits them and may look better. Some artists who lack integrity may pressure too hard and make you feel bad or intimate you into getting the work done.
I understand this completely having been in this situation before I became a tattoo artist. My advice is to walk away, leave your money and go!
Yes, it will be difficult, yes you will lose some money but ultimately if this is how the artist goes about things I wouldn’t trust them to do a good job. And let’s be honest if they are already showing signs of getting the hump how much passion do you think they will put into the work now?
Do your homework, if a studio or artist isn’t prepared to give you some time or advice that speaks volumes. That said be respectful of the artist and studios time, most should help but if they are good they are likely to be busy and time is precious. Everyone only has so much time so be concise about what you wish to ask. I would suggest making a list of questions to ask in one email or consultation as opposed to keep calling or emailing or messaging every time you think of something.
If you have constant questions, doubts or fears that would suggest to me you are not ready and I would suggest you take some more time to do some research and think if this is what you really want.
Be careful not to overthink. Given that this is a generic and broad overview of advise I cannot be specific to each case but sometimes I have noticed people overthink. They make a decision then they dwell on it and ask a friend and a friends friend and their mum and dad and nan and Nan’s sister’s auntie!
Trust yourself and your gut, the tattoo will be on you so it’s ultimately your decision. Yes, other peoples decisions are valid but consider they will have their own agenda and preferences. Too much input from others will lead to overwhelm, if you are doing this I would personally question how much you really want this tattoo and suggest you don’t get it.
As much as this post is to help people consider a first tattoo it is also to help people understand the artist and studios perspective.
Taking the time to really be sure if you want a tattoo before enquiring is suggested. Artists and studios can get overwhelmed by many people liking the idea of a tattoo and just wasting their time, it is a constant challenge for me as the business owner to help both the artist and client see each other’s perspectives.
Empathy and respect from both parties I believe is the way forward.
3 – Do Some Research
Look at the artist or studios websites, Instagram and Facebook. Look for consistency! At Monumental Ink when we look for an artist I always look for solid consistent work. Most artists are likely to post only their best, the worry with this is they have a bad day. At Monumental Ink we appreciate everyone has bad days mentally sometimes however it is an agreed value of ours that high-quality standards are a must!
If you can get a personal recommendation then even better but even then I would still suggest doing your own research as what was good for your friend may not be what’s good for you.
4 – Prepare
Prepare yourself for the big day! Don’t drink alcohol the day before and definitely not on the day. Eat a good breakfast as sometimes blood sugar can get low due to nerves. I hate when studios try to scare people with this sort of talk but it should be considered. Consider how you will get to the studio and how you will get home?
It’s suggested to be dropped off and picked up, again not to scare you that you will be in mega pain or discomfort it’s really just to be safe and take precautions. Some people, very few can get light headed and feel unwell. Most have a great day and can’t wait to go show their friends!
Take a book, headphones or an iPad. Depending on the size and detail of your tattoo you are at the studio for a while so taking something with you may help the day.
Take lunch, some studios may not be near a shop to get lunch so taking some with you is wise. Also leaving the studio with an unfinished tattoo isn’t ideal, it can be wrapped whilst you pop out but ideally, you would stay at the studio until the work is complete.
Your chosen studio or artist should supply you with all the advice prior to your tattoo if they don’t make sure to ask if there is anything you should do or consider ready for the day.
We send our clients before and after detailed information.
5 – Aftercare
Again all studios will have slight variations on how to treat your new tattoo, all studios should provide you with information on how to do this. If they don’t be sure to ask.
If you are interested in getting your first tattoo with us at Monumental Ink check out our website for more details at