Three tips before you get that first tattoo

You’ve only got to look around to realise that nowadays, tattoo culture is a thing. Thankfully we’ve moved on from the tramp stamps and dodgy tribals to stuff that can now be considered as art.

With full sleeves seemingly becoming a routine sighting in shopping centres, nightclubs, the beach and especially along Joburg’s Northern Suburbs haunts like Fourth Avenue in Parkhurst and all over Cape Town’s trendiest spots. Gone are the days that the ink from a tattoo gun was only reserved for bikers and misfits.

But before jumping in and booking that first session there are a couple of things to consider. There’s a reason that the saying ‘think before you ink’ exists.

Tattoo
Allef Vinicius

Give the first tattoo some thought

Before I got my first bit of ink I had sat on the idea for ages. Then inspiration struck while cleaning out a cupboard one day. I found the very last birthday card my grandfather gave me. On the inside he’d written an extract from Rudyard Kipling’s acclaimed poem “IF”. That was it, the first one sorted.

You’re always going to be asked what your ink means, it’s one of those things and some people out there just assume they’re entitled to the information. So why not give them a cool story? It beats picking from a catalogue and ending up with something that someone else already has.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Be prepared to splash the cash

It’s been proven time and time again that a cheap tattoo is a bad tattoo. You’re etching something into your skin. Forever. So why not make it worthwhile and get something you actually want to look at every day without an ounce of regret. A good artist will charge you, probably anything upwards of R900 per hour.

Tattoo
Uroš Jovičić

Do your research

Tattoo artists use two major tools to market themselves. Word of mouth and Instagram. The only artist I’ve used so far has done most of my wife’s work and has also done some seriously good stuff on some of our friends.

I’ve already found an artist who I want to go to based on the Instagram account of the studio where she’s based as well as her own. It’s a useful tool to use to see some stuff from an artist’s portfolio, long before you book the consultation and get the design process started. Time saved.

It’s also useful to look up an artist if say you’re travelling abroad and spontaneously decide to get some ink. We did it in Thailand, where tattoo shops are found on just about every street, and spent a couple of days thinking about it before deciding against it.

You’ve got to be a bit savvy here as well because, well what’s stopping an artist from just stealing images off the web and passing it off as their work. But you’ll quickly see an artist’s typical style and should be able to differentiate between the real deals and the fakers.

So you’ve committed. Now what?

OK, so the day of the appointment arrives and you’re a little nervous but also excited. Here are a couple of things to remember.

  1. Take a phone charger with. Your phone gives you something to do while you lie there for a couple of hours.
  2. And headphones. Music can be a great distraction while the tattoo artist works their magic.
  3. Listen to the aftercare instructions. There’s a reason the artists want you to take care of their work.
  4. Trust the artist.
  5. Enjoy it. The entire process is cool. From sitting down and discussing ideas to getting the carbon paper outline in place and the eventual completed work.
Brianna Santellan

Do you have any ink? What do you love about getting tattooed? Share your comments and be sure to head over to my Facebook Page and share your ink in the comments to this blog post. Would love to hear from you so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

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