Tattoos have become more and more popular, and are becoming almost mainstream, notably thanks to the influence of celebrities such as David Beckham or Rihanna. Far from glitters and world famous stars, tattoos also recall ancestral traditions and, according to culture, can have very distinct meanings. We can for example think of the Maori tattoos, telling stories and shedding the light on a cultural identity revival in the recent years. On the contrary, in Japanese society, tattoos are often associated with gangs, criminals, and are still badly regarded. In Europe and America, the story could be seen as a bit of both.
Indeed, although tattoos have become more largely socially accepted, they still can put a brake on your career, depending on your chosen field of work. This is why you should think twice before getting your first tattoo.
Let it sink in your mind
This may sound like an obvious statement, but a tattoo is a life commitment. Surely, systems to remove tattoos do exist, but they are painful and onerous, this is why it is advised that you carefully think about what model and design you want to get. Do not follow trend just because they look cool, but think about something unique, that suits your state of mind and personality. For instance, as an Emo kid in the early 2000s, I am quite happy that my parents never allowed me to get little sparkly stars right behind my ears because nowadays, they would look quite rubbish, frankly!
Take time, ask several professionals to draw designs for you, read reviews on the internet… If you have friends who are into art, and whose skills you trust, you can also ask them to create a very original and unique model just for you. Some tattoos may be to avoid, for instance getting a name tattooed on your wrist or in a very visible place, because you may regret this decision later on in life. However, the choice is all yours, in the end!
Consider health and safety, consider your future or current career.
If, like me, you live in Britain, you probably know that everybody in this country is obsessed with health and safety! When talking about tattoos, it is more important than ever, though! (Okay, this might be a slight exaggeration…). Nonetheless, make sure to compare tattoo parlours and visit them. That will allow you to check the professionalism of the staff, and you will also be able to investigate whether the place is clean, neat and welcoming. Nobody wants to get tattooed in a shabby place! It is a lovely, but stressful moment, and this is why you must make sure this is the right place for you. The first contact with the tattooist is also one of the most important steps in the process: if you feel they are too carefree or run their shop like a factory, or that there style of drawing do not correspond to your expectations, then it is better to sail off to another shore.
Remember: your are the customer, you are the king or queen! Do not hesitate to express your demands clearly, after all, it is your tattoo and your lifetime commitment! (as long as you remain polite about it, it should be fine!).
Investigate and analyse prices: some shops may offer bargains. Although this might be tempting, the tattoos done in these parlours may not always be of the best quality. Away from generalisation, the saying “You pay for what you get”, has never been as true as in the world of tattooing.
Consider what part of your body you want to get tattooed. There might be risks of infections, because of the needles. Some people may also contract allergies to the ink. In the UK, regulations are extremely strict and all material is sterilised,therefore, this is extremely rare, but if you have had several allergic reactions in the past, you may want to consult with your GP beforehand.
This sounds a lot like your mum doing a compulsory medical check-up before you go on a school trip, but to make the experience the most enjoyable as possible, these are easy precautions that have to be taken.
As we stated before, in some professions, such as being a lawyer, a teacher or a banker (and many others!), your employer may request that all tattoos are covered. In this instance, you may want to get tattooed in a spot that is easier to hide, such as your back, and avoid anything above the shoulders, as this would be too visible. If you work in a more creative domain, you may have more options, then! Hopefully, in the coming years, the democratisation on tattoos will lead to more open-mindedness and we will see teachers with tattoo sleeves everywhere!
Bear in mind that some spots may be more painful than others too. For instance, because it is near bones, a side rib tattoo is likely to be extremely painful. This varies from individuals, and only your own judgement can tell what level of pain is acceptable or not.
Your first tattoo session will undoubtedly be a memory to cherish so, get at ease and enjoy it! Do not hesitate to share with your artist why you are getting this tattoo, what it represents for you…this will help them to do a great job!
A tattoo, just as your fashion style, is a way to express your personality. So, whether it is political, whether it is a tribute to someone or whether it is an act of self-affirmation, be proud of your tattoo(s), it is yours, it is your choice and it is unique! Surely, your great grandma may be close to a heart attack when she first sees it (mine almost passed out when she discovered it…), but after all, it is your opinion,and your opinion solely that matters! Love your tattoo, love your self-expression!