Choosing your very first tattoo and getting it done seems quite a difficult process for most. I have ideas, but how to assemble them into a beautiful design? There are so many different styles too, which one is the right for me? How will I find the right artist? How much will it cost?? Here’s a simple six point list which might help a confused future tattoo client.
Try to find images similar to your ideas
If you only want a couple minimalistic tattoos or symbols, it should be an easy enough task. But with larger and more detailed designs, it will logically take more time. It is definitely easier to come across more popular images but it’s important to take into account that the more pictures there are of your tattoo, the more likely you are to walk into someone else with the exact same one. To get the most unique tattoo, find different reference pictures and leave your artist room for creativity to design a unique piece inspired by the images, just for you. Google is definitely not the best search engine for tattoo ideas, I would personally recommend Pinterest, DeviantArt and good old Instagram. There’s no use only looking for finished tattoos, but check out drawings and for some pieces, good photographs.
Don’t get a small one because you’re afraid of pain
This argument is all too common! Get a small tattoo if you truly only like small tattoos, not because you’re scared it will be too painful. Most of my clients have said “wow, it’s not at all as bad as I expected!” Getting a tattoo is more uncomfortable than anything and very individual, some manage just 2 hours and others 7. Even worse if you want a deer and roses and a compass and fireworks and the names of your 3 kids and want it all to fit into 5 cm because it has to be small. If you’re really that deathly afraid of pain, then tattoos are not for you. I’ve noticed that the bigger the piece, the better the patience of the client. Why? My theory is that the person has mentally prepared themselves that the longer they sit, the more will get done vs. when someone wants a small design and they start subconsciously counting minutes because help, when will this be over. I have had many clients who start with a very large design for their first piece and have sat through it amazingly well. Tattooing just really isn’t that bad.
Tattoos don’t need to have meanings
I often get told that someone has many good ideas but they want it to mean something. What if I get a tattoo with the wrong meaning? A tattoo means exactly what you want it to mean. You won’t belong to a gang if you get a tarantula on your chest, it works the other way around. Tattoos have become a form of art which everyone translates differently and many tattoos get done just because someone likes the look of an image or a certain idea.
It’s just as simple as that.
Find the time to look for the right artist
Once you have a bunch of reference pictures and a story for what you’d like, it would be time to find an artist who does just the style you want. If you don’t know any, here and here is a long list of different Estonian tattoo artists. You definitely won’t find every single tattooer from those pages but perhaps it will lead you in the right direction. Definitely find the time to look through your chosen artist’s previous works to understand whether your design would be something they could do. There are so many styles, here’s just a few examples: black-grey or colourful realism, dotting, watercolour, patterns, blackwork, minimalistic, neo-traditional, old-school etc. If you’re not entirely sure, don’t be scared to ask the artist whether your wish would be their style and if it isn’t, if they can direct you to someone else. Since I myself mostly do coloured designs, I often get people that want a tattoo from me but since I have a specific style, I turn them to another artist. No harm in asking 🙂
Good is not cheap and cheap is not good
A quality tattoo is a luxury product. Of course it depends on your own taste! Some people do get some stick figure done on their leg from a Mihkel they met at a party with a DIY machine. If that’s your lifestyle, go for it. But if you’d like to get it from someone with long-term experience, sterile equipment and a cozy studio then expect an appropriate price. Also take into account that different artists have different price lists: your friend Mari’s tattoo could have been cheaper or more expensive than what you were planning to get done. What’s certain is that you should expect quite a significant expense. Perhaps you’ll find an artist who will agree to payment by instalments but I wouldn’t count on it. Save some money, think and rethink your idea and once the stars are finally in the correct placement, contact your favourite artist and begin working together towards your dream.
Don’t sweat it
Consultations are done, ideas in place and an appointment made. Now is the right time to Google what could go wrong. Please no! If you Google a headache, you will also find information about possible brain cancer. Tattooing is uncomfortable, but the image will remain for a lifetime and it makes sense to be excited, but don’t make it stressful: it’s important to get a good night’s sleep the previous night, eat breakfast and take some snacks and drinks with you to the session. Dress appropriately for comfort and so the tattoo artist would have convenient access to the body part. The pain will depend on stress levels, sleeplessness, hunger and obviously placement and how long it takes. Make sure to have enough time so the artist wouldn’t have to hurry. Most tattooers don’t want your friend/s.o./homie/mother to join because they might mess with concentration. If it’s a longer session, take a magazine, book or movie that would allow you to divert attention away from the discomfort. And last but not least, take a good mood and an open mind because it’s important to trust your tattoo artist entirely.
Getting your first tattoo is the result of long-term homework and if you’ve found an artist with whom you feel at ease and have fun, a second tattoo will come much easier (if planned). The most important part is to trust your chosen artist and not overthink. If your gut feeling doesn’t sit right after exchanging messages or having a consultation, then break it off and either find a new artist or rethink your tattoo wish.