We totally understand that getting your first tattoo can be a little daunting. 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 try to lay out everything we think will make your experience the best that it possibly can be. This step by step guide will help make this process so awesome, that you won’t be able to quit at just one!
Brainstorming 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 tattoo. 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.
Finding an artist or studio should be a lot of fun! You can also use the Tattoodo App Booking Feature if you want all of the pressure taken off. This awesome part of our app actually makes it easy for you to send a request out, with all the details you desire...you can even upload images for the artist to reference...and that request is sent to all the tattooists on our platform who are within your area. You can then go through tattooists portfolios to find someone who does the style of your dreams. But, really, that’s what it’ll come down to no matter what: a bit of searching through images, and we promise you’ll have so many choices that you’re first tattoo may turn into many!
Scheduling an appointment doesn’t have to be tricky. Make sure you check out your chosen artist or studio’s profile or website to see how they like to run their appointments.
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 website. 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. In fact, some shops have web portals to gather information about what you might want for a custom piece. Read carefully, and follow directions accordingly.
What if it’s not clear how to book? Feel free to give the shop a call — phone calls are great. The key is to be clear and brief. 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 want something that day? That’s not really an appointment, that’s a walk-in. Calling ahead is a smart move if you’re eager for a tattoo — you’ll be able to suss out whether the shop even does walk-ins (again, see above: check their website first), and if the artist you want to see is available for such a thing. Most custom pieces aren’t going to be scheduled, booked, drawn, and done in 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!
What if you have the artist’s email, Instagram, Facebook or phone number? Unless you’ve got 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. 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.
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!
Getting Prepared is an important piece of this pie... There are a number of ways to manage pain and prepare for sitting for a tattoo session. Everyone is a little bit different, but here are some tried and true ways to be prepared.
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. You don’t want to sit with an empty stomach for several hours while someone works a needle into your skin, and you 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.
Get centered. 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, sit in lotus position...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 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 — 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.
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.
“Did it hurt?” is the most common question 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 hope this First Tattoo Guide helps but, as always, if you ever have any questions please reach out. And don’t forget to upload your new piece to our app. We’d love to see how it turns out!