Have you ever thought about getting a tattoo? Or more tattoos if you already have some?
I do! All the time. I might be a tattoo addict. Tattoo Addicts Anonymous meeting anyone?
I have eight tattoos so far, but I’m planning more all the time. Since I have some tattoos and have been tatted here in ABQ (as well as other places), I can tell you a few things that I have learned. Here are my tips and tricks from a tatted ABQ mom.
Eat and Stay Hydrated
Take care of your body. I mentioned this first because it is so important. Your session could last one hour to eight hours or more. This depends on how much detail was requested and/or how large the piece might be. Bring snacks and water during your session. Also, try to have a full belly and a good night’s rest. You never understand how uncomfortable sleep is on your newly-tattooed shoulder until it keeps you up all night.
Be Ready for the Pain
Speaking of keeping you up all night . . . getting a tattoo will hurt. Be mentally prepared for this. Bring your phone or a book, something to keep your mind distracted. Depending on the location of your tattoo, your body might hurt more or less. Many people report that a boney part of your body or a sensitive area will hurt more. Sensitive areas might be the inner bicep or the inside of your elbow. A boney part of your body might be your shin or collarbone. Know your body and know your limits.
My very first tattoo was on my ribcage. Many people told me that that is one of the most painful places, but it didn’t hurt me at the time. I think I was just so excited to get my first tattoo that I forgot about the pain. Try not to partake in any drugs, alcohol, or smoking before your session because these can make your body more sensitive to the pain. The healing process will be painful too.
Follow Aftercare Instructions
Speaking of the healing process, it is a process. Your tattoo is a wound to your body. And your body is trying to heal that wound. Take care of it, and follow all of the instructions that your artist gives you. I have learned to keep it moisturized, keep it out of the sun, and don’t pick at it when it scabs or itches.
After you get a tattoo, you may be tired and want to take a nap because your body needs to rest after all the pain during the session. Keep your tattoo out of the sun as you don’t want to have a sunburn on a healing tattoo (I don’t want to think about those two things together, no thank you!). Use an unscented lotion or cream to keep your tattoo hydrated while it’s healing. Many people use Aquaphor, but I’ve heard that you can also just use unscented lotion. Never pick at the scabs or peeling skin. Let this process happen naturally. Your tattoo won’t look amazing while it is healing, but this is a part of the process. Just remember, listen to your artist, and ask any questions that you might have about the aftercare.
Respect the Artist
Your artist is a specialist. Just like your OB/GYN is a specialist. Your tattoo artist works hard to learn how to tattoo a certain style and certain skin tones. Your artist knows how to manipulate the skin and how much ink to use or how much pressure. Respect their skill. Show up on time or early for your appointment and tip/pay accordingly. Artists charge differently depending on the size of the piece, if they have to rent a chair in a studio, the ink they use, their skills, their time, and more. Be knowledgeable and know how much it might be going into your appointment.
Someone once told me, “Good tattoos aren’t cheap, and cheap tattoos aren’t good.”
Think about that when you are trying to haggle the price or when you are working with an artist who is just starting out. I give the artist an idea of what I want and just trust them to make it beautiful. Thankfully, I have not been disappointed by this.
I have a tattoo on my wrist over a scar that I made when I was younger. I really wanted an infinity symbol, a semicolon, and the hakuna matata symbol. When I came up with the idea, I didn’t exactly know how I wanted it, but I wanted it there. To remember the pain and the feelings I had, but also how I healed and overcame those feelings. The artist put all three together and it’s perfect.
Your Body, Your Rules
Tattoos definitely aren’t cheap, but they are permanent. Know this going into an appointment. Try to photoshop the art on a picture of you to ensure that you like it. Once the artist begins, you will always have it on your body. But if you decide that you need to stop at any point during your session, do not be afraid to tell the artist to stop. It is your body. If you are getting a tattoo on your bottom or chest and the tattoo artist is not being respectful, you can tell them to stop and leave. One of the tattoo artists I know said, “Consent applies when getting a tattoo.” I have never thought about that, but it is true! You have the right not to work with an artist that you don’t feel comfortable with.
Tattoos are a work of art. Some people just like the way they look on their bodies, and some people get tattoos that have deep meanings and stories. Whatever your reason for getting a tattoo–it’s a good reason.
Tattoo Artists & Studios Recommended by Our Team
- ARTIST Sivan – Instagram @hvytattoo
- ARTIST Kobe – Instagram @morningstar.tattoos_
- ARTIST Bianca Sanchez – Instagram @nopalesymota
- ARTIST CZER – Instagram @czer_tattoosandart
- ARTIST Ben Viamontes – Instagram @blacklisttattooparlour
- ARTIST Stilo G – Instagram @stilo_g13
- ARTIST Maggie Elena – Instagram @maggie.elena
- STUDIO The Cat and The Cobra – Instagram @catandcobra
- STUDIO Relic Tattoo Co & ARTIST/OWNER Stephanie – Instagram @relictattooco
- STUDIO Kool Kids Tattoo & ARTIST/OWNER Jay – Instagram @ink3d_up_tat2
- STUDIO Serpent Street Tattoo – Instagram @serpentstreettattoo
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.