How can I Prepare for Getting a Tattoo?

J. Beam

The decision to get a tattoo is a personal one and is different for every person. Tattoos are permanent additions to the body and, if all goes well, a permanent work of art. Many people have been to known to get a tattoo on the fly rather than thinking it through, and for some, it may work out all right, but there are just as many others who might tell you they regret not planning better. There are several things you can do to prepare for getting a tattoo. When you consider that a tattoo is permanent, you might like to be as well prepared for the occasion as possible.

Large tattoos typically require many hours of planning with a tattoo artist.
Large tattoos typically require many hours of planning with a tattoo artist.

Most people are of one of two minds before getting a tattoo. You either have a very good idea of what you want tattooed or you don’t. If you have in mind what you want and have the gift of artistic ability, draw out your picture or design to take to the tattoo artist. If you lack that ability, you will need to clearly explain what you want to a tattoo artist.

Woman with tattoos on her arm and back.
Woman with tattoos on her arm and back.

On the other hand, if you don’t know what you want a tattoo of, the first thing to do to prepare for getting a tattoo is to decide. It’s okay to know you want a tattoo and not to know what specific design you want, but approaching the artist with no design idea is a bad idea. Another bad idea is to have names added to a tattoo, unless they are your children's names or the name is in memory of a loved one. If you want a custom tattoo rather than a design from a studio’s book, it’s going to take some time.

Finding a talented tattoo artist is an important step in preparing to get a tattoo.
Finding a talented tattoo artist is an important step in preparing to get a tattoo.

Another important step when you prepare for getting a tattoo is to know or find a talented and licensed tattoo artist. If you don’t know anyone who has experience with an artist, you’ll have to find your own. Pay attention when you’re out locally, and if you see someone with a particularly striking design or well-done tattoo, stop and ask them who did it. Most people have no qualms whatsoever telling you about their tattoo artist.

Find local artists through the phonebook and visit their studios. Look for a clean and sterile environment, and someone who is licensed to give a tattoo and has the credentials to prove it. If you walk into a studio and there’s a dog lying on the floor or a cat sitting in the window, think again.

Besides what and who, where is another factor to keep in mind when you prepare for getting a tattoo. The place on your body where you put the tattoo should be well thought out. A woman might have thought she wanted a tattoo on her ankle until she had to wear a formal bridesmaid’s dress in her best friend’s wedding. Remember, if you want to be able to conceal your tattoo for any reason, ankles, wrists, hands, face, neck, and arms are not prime spots. Think about your back, stomach, thighs, or the tops of your feet, all places that can be easily covered if a situation warrants.

Finally, the number one thing you can do to prepare for getting a tattoo is to realize beforehand that tattooing is an artistic process, but one that involves needles, and those needles do break the skin. It can be briefly uncomfortable and even painful, but once you start, you can’t very well quit. Remember, too, that for a short period of time after getting a tattoo, there will be directions to follow for healing. A qualified tattoo artist will supply you with the necessary information to keep the tattooed area free of infection and healing quickly. If you prepare for getting a tattoo with some foresight into the process, you’re guaranteed to get more enjoyment out of the artistic addition to your body than if you get one on a whim.

A tattoo machine.
A tattoo machine.

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Discussion Comments


Tattoos can take a long time to complete, depending on the complexity so time is another thing to consider when prepping yourself for a tattoo.

The tattoo artist will be able to tell you how long it should take based on how complicated the design is. If it's real complicated, you may consider getting parts of tattooed over time.

I'd plan for extra time -- the worst thing would be to rush your tattoo artist and have a bad tattoo for the rest of your life -- or just have to come back to get it fixed up.

Because it can take a long time, it's a good idea to eat before you go or to bring a snack. I always bring something to drink too.

Also, make sure your clothing is comfortable, and consider where on your body you are getting your tattoo when choosing your clothing so as not to cover it if possible.


This is a great article. I definitely think it is important to think carefully about what you want to have permanently inked on your body.

Choosing the artist is also very important. I got my first tattoo on a whim, and luckily, it turned out good, but since then I am more careful.

It is important to stay relaxed when you do decide to get it and while you are actually getting it. I think it is easier to be relaxed if you are comfortable with the artist who is doing the tattoo. Going with a friend can help, check with the artist to see if it is okay though.

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