The no-nonsense guide to getting tattooed! PART 2 – During

In our first instalment, I talked to you guys about the ‘before’ process in getting your tattoo.

It probably frustrated a lot of people that I didn’t get into the real meat of actually getting tattooed, but I wouldn’t have felt comfortable without laying the whole process out, I wouldn’t have been giving you the whole picture.

So today let’s focus on the super fun and pretty painful bit! ‘During’!

GET THERE ON TIME!

I shouldn’t really have to say this at all. As a responsible adult, who has taken the time to get to this point and book your appointment, you should WANT to be there on time!

Being late creates all kinds of problems for yourself and your tattoo artist. If you’re rushing and get there late, you’re going to create a bit of tension from the offset, and work yourself up. This isn’t good, as you’re spending the next few hours with this person tattooing your skin. You don’t want to create an awkward environment, or make your tattoo artist think you’re not as serious as you should be about your appointment.

If you think you are going to be late, for whatever reason, just call ahead and let your artist know. Then apologise when you get there. Artists understand that there are some things you just can’t control, but if you give them the heads up, they can be sure you are still coming, and you’re not going to be a no-show.

DON’T BRING AN ENTOURAGE

Unless previously agreed with your artist, it’s not usually a good idea to bring friends with you to watch you get tattooed.

Having friends and family present can be distracting for both yourself and your tattoo artist. Your guest may feel the need to give their opinion on the design of your tattoo, or may create an atmosphere that puts the artist under great pressure.

I feel most comfortable when I turn up to my appointments alone, as I can really connect with my tattoo artist and create a very personal experience.

BE PATIENT AND BE HONEST!

Your artist will have to set up for your appointment, so you may have a little wait at the studio. There will sometimes be a selection of tattoo magazines for you to flick through, and you may even be offered a cup of tea while you wait. Modern tattoo studios are very welcoming places, and nothing like the stereotypical, intimidating, testosterone filled shops of the past.

Your artist will show you a line drawing of your tattoo around this point.. They want to know whether this is what you had in mind, and they want you to be honest. If you have communicated with your artist well up to this point, it will be everything you hoped for and more!

If there are elements that you would like to change, your tattoo artists needs to know this. They are aware that this piece is on you forever, and they want to give you the best! Things like sizing, positioning of small elements like background flowers etc, colour choices, wording positioning and the actual positioning of the tattoo on your body, can all be tweaked a little before you start. Please don’t be afraid of asking for something like this to be changed!

If you find you totally hate the design (which is very unlikely if you have done your research), then you must still say something. It’s likely in this case that you would have to re-arrange your appointment, and you may lose your deposit. Please do not argue with your tattoo artist about this, they need time to make sure they get your vision right!

When you are happy with your design, it’s time to apply the carbon paper transfer to your skin! At this point, it all gets pretty real, and nerves may kick in…

STAY CALM!

These days, I’m usually excited about getting tattooed. I tend to prepare myself for the inevitable pain by just letting myself get super stoked about the design itself!

If this is your first tattoo, I’m not going to tell you it doesn’t really hurt, or it’s not as bad as you think (because I don’t know what you are thinking) But I will say, it’s really not the worst pain in the world. At all. You can deal with it, and as soon as it’s over, you will forget all about it.

If you feel you are panicking, faint, nervous or sick, please tell your artist immediately. They will only start your tattoo when they know you are comfortable. Take a breather, pop to the loo, make sure you are comfy in the chair and keep yourself calm.

During your tattoo, you may find there are a number of things you can do to distract from the pain. I like to count things, like ceiling tiles or floorboards, I don’t know why it works, but it does! I also find that watching the artist working on the tattoo calms me down, but I guess that makes me weird because most other people I know HATE watching it. Just do what you think is best!

BE FRIENDLY!

Some of the time, you may find that an artist doesn’t seem to say much. This is because a lot of artists take their cues from you, as their customer. They do not want to distract or upset you by talking to you, if you don’t deal well with conversation whilst being tattooed. Don’t let this put you off starting a conversation though, as conversation is one of the best ways of managing pain and creating a distraction for you.

I will mention at this point, that a real studio doesn’t work like the ones you see on those tattoo ‘reality’ TV shows. You’re artist is not there to be your therapist, and it can be a little odd for them to have to listen to someone pour their heart out, and explain their reasons for getting a tattoo. If you want to talk about it, that’s great, but try keep it light and concise. On TV, the customers share their long and elaborate stories for the benefit of the cameras and the audience at home. There are no cameras here, so you really don’t have to lay it on thick.

Have a laugh and a joke, or sit in the peaceful quiet. Either is good, just make sure you are doing everything you can do to create a positive and awesome atmosphere!

COMMUNICATE

Need a pee? Need to wiggle your fingers, stretch your arm/leg/torso or take a five minute breather? Let your artist know! They can’t read your mind, and they want you to be as comfortable as possible whilst they work on your tattoo.

It can be hard, but it’s best to keep as still as possible while the artist is actually working on your skin. Moving a little to get comfortable is fine, but usually it is best if you let them know you need to reposition yourself.

It is important to remember that there is absolutely no need to cause a scene for attention. Your artist is already giving you and your tattoo all of their attention, and it is actually very distracting for them if you wiggle , scream, squeal, shriek and cry for dramatic effect. In the long run, if you squirm around and cause the tattooist to have to stop and start the whole way through, you may end up having to pay more, as the tattoo took longer than expected. Try to keep those yelps and wriggles to yourself, it’s in your best interests to stay still and try not to whinge and be negative!

DON’T BE NOSEY

There’s nothing wrong with asking questions, but please be aware of what you are asking. It’s fine to enquire about things, but most tattoo artists find it distracting and unsettling if customers ask questions about brands of ink, types of machines, and other industry specific paraphernalia.

They know you are just curious, but they may want to keep some things to themselves. If you want to know about the sterilisation of equipment, and issues that affect you as the customer, your tattoo artist will be happy to speak to you about these aspects, and I would be worried if they didn’t want to.

Tattooing is an art form, and an incredibly difficult industry to get started in. It is very likely your tattoo artist has worked hard to collect knowledge and learn about tattooing specifics, and it is not really the ‘done thing’ in the industry to then impart this closely guarded knowledge willy nilly on everyone who asks.

LISTEN

When your tattoo is done, your artist will explain the aftercare process to you. You need to listen to their advice and follow it to the letter. If you do not feel the advice they have given is adequate, please ask them to explain or elaborate, so you can really understand the best way to care for your healing tattoo.

BE POLITE

ALWAYS say thank you, that’s just good manners!

PAY WELL

You should always bring plenty of money with you to pay for your tattoo. If you have been given a quote, try bring a little more, just in case. This means you can avoid embarrassing and unnecessary trips to a nearby cash point after your tattoo!

When the time is right, your artist may ask you to move to the reception area to make you payment, or wait until you indicate that you are ready. It can be a little awkward at this point, as paying for a tattoo is nothing like buying something from a shop, but I usually say something like ‘what’s the damage?’, ‘let’s square up!’ or simply ‘how much do I owe you?’. Keeping it light stops it from being awkward.

It is not compulsory to tip your tattoo artist, but it is polite and nice. Obviously it’s not always easy to afford this, as you may have had to save very long and hard to pay for the tattoo itself, but if you do have enough to say an extra ‘thank you’, it can be a great way of letting your artist know how much you appreciate their hard work, and it also helps to build a relationship with your artist. Everyone likes to be appreciated! It’s totally your call, but please at least consider it!

That’s all for the time being, check back in a couple of days, when I will share a short guide on the ‘After’ aspects of your tattoo!

Thanks for reading!

Kate xx

Part 2 coming soon!

Hey all!

Just a quick post to let you know that the second part of my ‘no-nonsense’ guide to getting tattooed is coming soon!

I originally promised it for this evening, but I think I underestimated how crappy I would be feeling after my tattoo, my brain is not capable of a decent post this evening, and I only want to bring you my best!

I thought I would include a little picture of my new piece by Miles Welby-Jenkins, at End Times studio in Leeds!

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It’s one i’ve been wanting for about a year, so I am pleased I FINALLY have it. It’s an adaptation of an original from William Grimshaw flash.

Thanks again to Miles! Now if you don’t mind, i’m going to sit in the dark and not think about anything because this tattoo has taken far more of a toll on me than I expected!

I’m jotting down my part 2 post in rough tomorrow, so it’ll be here soon!

Kate x

 

The no-nonsense guide to getting tattooed! PART 1 – Before

Hello!

In this three part post, I thought I would talk about tattoos, because I love them, I have them and I am just about to get another!

What I REALLY want to attempt is a very simple, very straight-talking guide, to getting tattooed. I’m not just talking how to get what you want, what you should expect and how much you should pay, I’m also going to be brutally honest about how to be a good customer, how to trust your artist, and whether you really should be getting that tattoo at all!

The ‘before’ steps…

REALLY WANT A TATTOO?

Just ask yourself ‘why?’. Why do you want a tattoo.. disregard what the design is for a second, sit and think long and hard about that shit being permanent, and then ask again, why?

A lot of people wouldn’t expect me to say that. A lot of people want me to go ‘oh hey yeah, get tattooed, it’s the best ever’. But here’s why I won’t do that…. The only answer to the question ‘why?’ should be ‘for myself’.

Any reputable tattooist would never coerce or persuade you into getting tattooed, and any good friend wouldn’t either. Put simply, if you are asking the artist, or a friend, five minutes before the needle hits the skin ‘do you think I should get this?’ then you absolutely shouldn’t get it. You need to be 100% sure in your own head, without seeking approval first, that this is what you absolutely want to do.

WHAT SHOULD YOU GET?

By golly, this is a difficult one. Chances are, if you have no idea what to get as a tattoo, you really need to leave it be for a while, and wait until the inspiration comes to you. Don’t try seek something out just for the sake of getting it tattooed, I speak from experience, that you do not want to be left with two hearts’n’crossbones on your hips because you just wanted SOMETHING.

On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with getting a GOOD piece of flash tattooed. (Flash is the name given to the sheets of designs that hang in tattoo artists studios). By good, I mean a well sourced, well researched piece of flash. If you know what you like, chances are you know which artists flash to look for, and if you know who you want to get tattooed by (usually because you already like their style), there could be a piece of flash by them just waiting to adorn your skin. Generally though, it isn’t a great idea to walk into any old studio and just pick something. Do your research!!

I can’t tell you what to get tattooed, I can tell you what I think works, and what doesn’t work, what I think will be timeless, and what will date in five minutes, but ultimately, it’s up to you, and my opinions are just that.. opinions. I am no authority on tattoos, I don’t claim to be and I don’t want to be, but I won’t deny that I am somewhat informed.

You should probably avoid anything fad-like or something that will only be significant in the very near future. ‘Fashions’ in tattoos come and go, and have never made any sense to me. A tattoo is a very personal thing, so getting something because a celebrity has it, or a lot of other people have it, really isn’t a good reason.

There are a myriad of different styles of tattoo.. black and grey, traditional American, Japanese, realistic, abstract, bio-mechanical, tribal, new school… the list is pretty much endless, and it’s your choice, and ultimately yours alone as to what you want BUT….

TRUST IN YOUR TATTOO ARTIST!

If you have done your research carefully, and have chosen someone because you value their artistic vision, have faith in their technical ability and totally adore their work, then please, for the love of whatever god you do or do not believe in, just LISTEN TO THEM!!

If you have picked a truly great artist, then your tattoo artist knows best in terms of design, and the technical aspects of your tattoo. They know how close the lines can be, so it doesn’t turn into a blue blob in five years, they know whether something will look confusing if you try and add too many elements, they know that most of the time, subtlety can work wonders. If you disagree with anything your artist is trying to tell you regarding the design or technical elements of your tattoo, please don’t demand the tattoo ‘your way’, instead go away and think about it, or source a different tattoo artist to realise your vision.

I will mention here, that I realise if you have been looking at a design you want that you have seen on the internet, or in a book, or that a friend has drawn for you, that you will most likely want it to look EXACTLY how it does on paper. I can promise you though, that is not practical.

Many tattoo artists have to politely explain to customers that getting a design exactly as it appears on paper, or exactly how it was drawn by someone who isn’t a tattoo artist, isn’t a good idea. Put simply, your tattoo artist knows how a design will flow with the curves of your body, they know what kind of line thickness will be needed to achieve the best results, and they know how big and detailed they are physically able to go with something without it looking weird. Please be open to interpretations of your design, and work with your artist to create something that will really work on your body. I guarantee you, you will love it more than the original image!

HAVE A DECENT BUDGET

I am not about to tell you how much your tattoo should cost. I would never, ever attempt to do that. If you are totally new to getting tattooed, and you are worried because you have no idea what a reasonable price is, do your research and find well trusted, technically great artists to look into. Any decent artist would never hike the price up for a new customer, it’s bad for the industry and bad for their business personally, every good tattooer will quote you a reasonable price from the off.

I have had many conversations with people about the price of my tattoos, just as a hint though, it is a very rude question to ask someone.. you are essentially saying ‘how much money do you have?’.

There’s a saying, that translates perfectly to what you can expect for your money from a tattoo artists price quote. ‘Cheap work ain’t good, and good work ain’t cheap’. Be prepared to spend good money on that thing you so desperately want on your body forever, or you will quickly regret it!

Oh, and please understand.. Paying a deposit is not only normal, but extremely important. Your tattoo artist is committed to giving you the best tattoo they can, they need to know you are committed to getting it. Pay the deposit, don’t be difficult about it, and expect that if you cancel without adequate notice you will lose that deposit.

Please bear in mind that you are not just paying for the time it takes for the artist to expertly craft that tattoo into your skin. You also pay for their experience, their years of learning and knowledge that is being used to create something beautiful on your skin, the hours it takes to research to perfect reference material, the faffy task of placing orders for supplies, the lack of social life because of their dedication to the craft, the draft after draft of design, custom made for you, and the time taken to create a final drawing, which leads me onto..

DON’T WORRY ABOUT YOUR DESIGN

No one likes to be awoken at 1am by text message, when they were just trying to sleep. I’m pretty sure tattoo artists don’t like it either, but I know it happens. Don’t be that customer who texts, emails and calls into the studio, weeks before your appointment, to ‘have a look’ at the design.

Tattoo artists are busy people, the chances are, they haven’t even thought about your final design yet. A lot of artists draw up final designs just a day or two before your appointment. I appreciate this tattoo is important to you, but your artist has other clients, and is constantly working, they will get to your design when the time comes. This doesn’t mean they don’t care, they are simply doing their job.

If you need to constantly ask to see the design, this means that trust we talked about earlier isn’t there, and you need to re-think whether this is the right artist for you. Talking of re-thinking…

DON’T BE A NO-SHOW

Think about how long it’s taken on this blog post, for us to get to this point, and I still haven’t even mentioned anything about what happens when you actually get tattooed. Now imagine that all these things we have been through on this post, have actually happened and you have been planning, and have booked in, your tattoo. It can be a fairly long process, a fairly long and sometimes scary process, but it would be a great shame to spoil all the build up now by not showing up for your tattoo.

There are many reasons people don’t show up… fear, lack of funds, family disapproval, unable to get time off, etc.. but there is NO excuse for it (aside from maybe sudden hospitalisation or violent illness, but don’t lie… that shit’s just plain wrong)

Every tattoo artist would rather you let them know the very second you decide you won’t be able to make it, and also the reason. If you are scared, an artist would rather have the opportunity to put your mind at ease, and still be able to create that beautiful artwork for you, if you are broke, you need to suck that shit up, forget your pride, and be honest. Whatever the reason, you simply HAVE to tell them if you can’t make it.

Not turning up to your appointment is the equivalent of your work phoning you to say they don’t need you to go to work, and they won’t be paying you. Tattoo artists have rent to pay, they pay bills, they have to feed themselves, they also may have families to support, projects to fund or simply nice things they are saving up for. Please remember that!

If you let your artist know with enough time to spare, they may be able to move your appointment, instead of cancelling it, they will be able to book someone else in, so they still earn money that day, and most importantly for you, you won’t lose your deposit.

 

You’re almost ready for your tattoo! In part two, I will talk you through what to expect at your appointment, how to behave in the studio, and how to make the whole experience really enjoyable for you and your artist! Stay tuned, and if you have any questions for me, please ask!

Kate xx