Getting your first tattoo can be a little daunting and we totally understand that. We’re definitely trying to revolutionize the way people indulge in the tattoo community, which means making everything easier, more accessible, and not so intimidating for people just like you! In this First Tattoo Guide, we go over how to book your first tattoo appointment by laying everything out step by step. We want your experience to be the best that it possibly can be and this guide will help make it so awesome that you won’t be able to quit at just one!
Step 1. Idea, date, and budget
Brainstorming tattoo ideas and figuring out when you’ll be able to make the commitment to a tattoo appointment is the first step, and it’s a hella important one. This may sound...obvious…but it’s true. Thinking long and hard about what you want will make it easier for your tattoo artist to draw up your new piece. Your happiness is important to them, and they want to do a good job! So, getting a really strong concise idea in your mind, and then figuring out what your budget is, as well as what your schedule is like, is all going to make the process so much smoother and more enjoyable. If you’re struggling to come up with the best tattoo idea, make sure you head over to our tattoo image search and type in specific keywords that are of interest to you. Our archive contains literally thousands upon thousands of inspiration...you can start with things like “chest tattoos”, “rose tattoos”, or “tribal tattoos”...whatever stuff you love to look at, we promise we’ve got it.
Step 2. Find an artist or studio
Finding an artist or studio should be a lot of fun! Best thing you can do is use the Tattoodo App Booking Feature if you want all of the pressure taken off. There are two options: you can either do an Open Booking or a Direct Booking. These awesome aspects of our app actually make it easy for you to send book a tattoo by sending a request out, with all the details you desire. You can even upload images for the artist to reference! If you do an Open Booking, your request is sent to all the tattooists on our platform who are within your area. You can then go through tattooist portfolios to find someone who is the perfect fit. If you prefer someone or somewhere that you’ve found through our Artist or Studio search, then you can send them a Direct Booking. You’ll see the big red “Book Now” button.
Step 3. Scheduling an appointment: Things to consider
How to set up a tattoo appointment doesn’t have to be tricky. Many tattooists and shops have a specific set of requests about how to book an appointment. Ideally, this process will be incredibly clear on their profile. No DM’s sound familiar? It’s true. Many tattooists or shops prefer email, telephone calls, or have a particular contact sheet they want you to fill out. That’s where our “Book Now” button comes in handy...it makes it way easier for the artist to organize your request for a brand new tattoo. And as we said, we want this to be smooth and easy for you too! That’s why we have all of these things on our platform. In the end, really, all you need to do is a bit of searching through images, search artists and studios on our site, and we know you’ll have tons of great options.
What if you want something that day? That’s not really an appointment, that’s a walk-in. That’s why our Booking Feature is so smart. It makes it clear that you want a tattoo...even if it’s that day. Especially using our Open Booking feature is great, because if an artist has a random opening or cancellation that day, they’ll be able to fit you right in. Doing your research in the first place is a smart move — you’ll be able to suss out whether the shop even does walk-ins, and if the artist you want to see is available for such a thing. Heads up: most custom pieces aren’t going to be scheduled, booked, drawn, and done on the same day. Expect some waiting time if you want original art. But if you’re looking for a sweet and quick flash piece to just do the damn thing, we don’t blame ya. Flash tats are rad, and some studios are set up just for that...this is where your research will come in handy!
Step 4. How to message a tattoo artist when booking an appointment?
The question we get asked the most is: How to message a tattoo artist when booking an appointment? And we promise messaging a tattoo artist when booking an appointment doesn’t have to be full of anxiety. Our advice is pretty simple, just like your message should be!
What to email a tattoo artist when booking an appointment:
- A simple description of your idea and any photo references you may have.
- The size and body part you’d like to have tattooed, as well as your budget.
- Any particular style, colors, details, and similar, that you’d like included.
- Dates that work well for you.
The best thing to keep in mind when you ask yourself how to message a tattoo artist is: be straight-forward and polite. Keep it short but make sure to include all of the information above plus anything else you think may be relevant.
What if I’m unsure about the size or the placement?
If you’re unsure about the size or placement of the tattoo, that’s okay! Just say so! But we’re pretty sure you probably have an estimate in mind...if you don’t, that’s also okay. The tattoo artist will work with you to figure out a size and a placement for your piece that will work perfectly. It’s part of their job. The same goes for if you’re unsure about colors, design, style, etc. Let the artist work their magic with you!
We totally understand why so many people are confused about how to email a tattoo artist. It’s not always obvious how a tattooist wants to be contacted, and a lot of people don’t really know what to say anyway! And what if it’s not clear how to book? Maybe their profile doesn’t have a “Book Now” button, or they don’t have a bio specifying how they want to be contacted. If it’s an artist, try to find their email. Keep it short and brief, like: “Hey, I found you on Tattoodo, but I wasn’t sure how to book a tattoo with you. Please let me know what you prefer, and what information you’d like to have.” The same goes for a shop that doesn’t have contact info. If you can’t find the shop email, feel free to give the shop a call — phone calls are great. Simply say, “Hey, I found you on Tattoodo. I’d like to book a new tattoo.” Again, the key is to be clear, and to the point. Many shops don’t have a shop manager to handle calls, so an artist is probably taking time away from drawing or tattooing to help you. Have your schedule ready to confirm a date, and make sure to write down anything else you’re told.
What if you have the artist’s email, Instagram, Facebook or phone number? Unless you have a special relationship with that tattoo artist or that person is a dear friend, following the rules will make you the best client you can be. And we assume if you’re reading this: that’s exactly what you should do. Tattoo artists’ schedules are whacky and busy, keeping track of multiple forms of communication is exhausting for anybody. By going through the right motions, you ensure you’re on the calendar properly, and it will help everyone out in the long run.
Step 5. Price and Deposit
Remember that deposits are there for a reason. In fact, most artists won’t put you on their books without a deposit, especially for custom artwork. Remember, someone is drawing out an original piece of art just for you! Your initial deposit does two things: it pays for the drawing time and that original sketch, and it also guarantees, hopefully, that you’ll show up to your appointment. It might seem weird, but yeah, people bail on their appointments all the time. And it can be truly disheartening. Your money down means that artist’s time isn’t entirely wasted.
Booking your first tattoo appointment can seem daunting, but rest assured, it’s not. Think of your adherence to a shop’s policies and your willingness to follow guidelines set by your artist as ways to build a great new relationship, because the truth is, most folks can’t stick to just one tattoo and a lot of people end up working with only a few artists because they love their work so much!
Step 6. Be prepared for your appointment
Make sure you’re sober and really hydrated
Make sure you’re really hydrated. Don’t go on a bender the night before — alcohol thins the blood. Make sure you’re well-hydrated and bring a water bottle with you just in case. Being hydrated is good for your body overall, but especially for things like pain management. Your skin and blood vessels will thank you.
Eat well and sleep well
You should probably be thinking about this anyway since you’re a human and alive, but just in case sleeping and eating are difficult things to track for you, be extra attentive before your tattoo session. Being nervous about your tattoo appointment can also make you skip this important thing and you don’t want to sit with an empty stomach for several hours while someone works a needle into your skin! You also don’t want to be on only a few hours of sleep. You won’t be able to take the pain with any dignity or patience if you’re hungry and tired. Also...let’s be honest, this is your first tattoo, so you won’t really know how your body will react until it’s happening. With that in mind, it makes sense to be as physically prepared as possible!
Shower and moisturize
Think of your skin as a canvas because that’s what it’s gonna become. You want to have the best canvas prepared for your tattoo artist, so come fresh and clean, and if you’re someone who struggles with dry skin, some light moisturizing will do wonders. Think of hydrating both ways: inside and out.
It may sound a little out there, but meditating, or even just making sure that you’re at peace, can be really helpful, especially when you’re about to get your first tattoo. It can be really exciting, it may give you the jitters, but all that anticipation can hit you pretty hard once you’re under the needle and in pain.
It’s best to stay calm, centered, and remember that the pain is totally worth the art you’re about to have for the rest of your life. So, make sure that you’ve done some mindful self-care the day before your appointment...take a walk, do some yoga, have a smoothie, count your blessings, read a book...whatever you do that works for you to get in an ultra peaceful mode will work wonders, we promise. Remember that physical well-being and psychological well-being almost always go hand in hand.
Think about the timing of your day
Think about the timing for your day. If your session is midday, eat a hearty breakfast. If your session is after work ends for you, make sure you bring snacks and water to be ready. Sometimes life gets you, and you find yourself on your way to a tattoo appointment without doing some of the above things or you may just be scared to get a tattoo; that’s ok, just think of yourself as a tattoo explorer, and get what you need to be prepared! A friend and a tattoo-go-bag will do you right.
Schedule in picking up supplies
You’ll need some specific things for aftercare that you may not already have, so make sure to schedule in picking up supplies. You can always do this after you get your tattoo, but it’s totally up to you! Having some non-fragrance, hypoallergenic soap on hand, preferably in a squirt bottle since bars of soap can carry bacteria, will be great for keeping your new baby clean. No need for towels though! You’re better off air drying your piece rather than rubbing it dry. It is, after all, basically an open wound. Easy does it!
As for lotions or salves, everyone has their own personal secret weapon to fight against the dry itchiness of a new tattoo and to help promote successful healing. I’ve been using Dexeryl for years. Jes loves unrefined, cold-pressed coconut oil. Joe prefers Saniderm. Some people swear by A&D. There are a few shops out there that may send you home with a card or a little care package that includes products they stand behind. With your first tattoo, it’s usually best to stick with what your artist suggests, and as you continue to get more tattoos you’ll find your own personal favorite.
Yes, it will hurt!
“I want a tattoo but I’m scared of the pain” we hear this all the time. The same goes for: “Did it hurt?”...it’s one of the most common questions tattooed folks get from non-tattooed individuals. The answer is always “yes,” it totally hurts. But the key is how much and this is something we can all manage by being prepared, and knowing what to expect. We have a guide called “The Ten Most Painful Places to Get a Tattoo” which can definitely help you out in this area.
Getting prepared is an important piece of this pie and a great way to ease your tattoo anxiety. A lot of people feel nervous about a tattoo appointment and session, especially if it’s their first time, so there’s no need to feel alone! There are a number of ways to manage pain and prepare for sitting for a tattoo session. Everyone is a little bit different, but above are some tried and true ways to take care of those “nervous about first tattoo” jitters.
Step 7. What happens once the appointment is booked?
What else do you need to know once you booked your first appointment?
Since this may be your first tattoo you may wondering what else you need to know once you’ve booked your tattoo appointment. There are a lot of “unspoken rules” you may have heard about, but don’t let that intimidate you! We have a great guide that gives you the Top 10 Tips for Tattoo Etiquette which helps. The best thing to keep in mind when you’re finally in the studio is to be respectful, kind, and patient. The rest will take care of itself.
What happens after you have gotten your tattoo?
After you get your first tattoo, you may have many questions...your artist is there to help guide you. They will always give you a little care card that outlines how to treat your new piece. We also have a guide: How Do I Take Care of My Tattoo? That will certainly help. Feel free to also call the shop afterward if you are having difficulty. Make sure to also protect your piece from the sun. Once it’s all healed up, use sunscreen every time you know you’ll be in direct sunlight! The better care you take of your new tattoo after your first tattoo appointment, the better your tattoo will heal and age over the years.