Tattoo Dos and Don’ts

Depending on your location and culture, tattoos can be perceived as anything from a mark of high status all the way to a symbol of a criminal. Because of that, it makes sense to consider a few things before getting inked yourself.

If you have tattoos or you’re considering getting one and you’ve talked about it with friends, you’ve probably gotten a lot of unsolicited advice. At the end of the day, the big question is, should you get a tattoo or not? And while we can’t answer that question for you, we can definitely provide you with some insights that help you reach a conclusion that makes sense for you.

A woman being inked

A woman being inked

Tattoo History

Archaeological evidence suggests that tattoos have pretty much been around since the dawn of mankind. As such, it’s one of the oldest forms of personal style that exists and a lot older than clothes, for example. Historically, tattoos had three principal meanings:

  • A simple decoration.
  • An indication of social status.
  • A kind of a talisman because tattoos were supposed to have healing properties and were good for the body and soul.

The culture that is probably most widely associated with tattoos is the Maori of Polynesia. In fact, the word tattoo originates from the Maori word “tatau” which means as much as to strike. Maori culture incorporates several rituals and rites of passage, especially for young men, that all evolved around tattoos. The Maori also practice a related art form which is called Ta Moko which includes carving of the skin which leaves a slight texture once it’s healed.

Maori of Polynesia

Maori of Polynesia

You’ve probably heard of tattoos being very popular among sailors and was in fact, a Maori influence that led to that popularity among them. Now for sailors, tattoos have very specific meanings. A turtle was a sign of having crossed the equator whereas an anchor would mean that you crossed the Atlantic and so forth. Historically, sailors often had a reputation for being rough around the edges and sometimes even violent.

The popularity of tattoos with seafarers secured a societal stigma around tattoos being only for people at the fringes of society. In fact, it remained outlawed until the mid 20th century. While tattooing has surged in popularity in Europe and in the US, particularly with Millennials, there are others, oftentimes older people, in society who still associate a certain taboo with tattoos and associate it with prison life or gang culture. That being said, with more and more people having at least one tattoo, that stigma is slowly but surely fading. In fact, 40% of Millennials in the US today have at least one tattoo.

David Beckham with a full sleeve tattoo

David Beckham with a full sleeve tattoo

Things To Keep In Mind Before Getting Inked

Ultimately, no matter if you like it or not or how well it’s done, people will always see it and judge you for it. As I said many times before, in an ideal world, people shouldn’t judge you by your outward appearance but they subconsciously do, there’s nothing you can do about that.

On a more practical note, consider exactly where you want to place your tattoo because chances are that there might come a time, even if you think to the contrary right now, where you want to hide your tattoo. Just think about meeting the conservative parents of your significant other for the first time or maybe at a job interview at a white-collar law firm.

Overall, if you decide to get a tattoo, I think it’s really great if there’s a story behind it and some meaning. So rather than picking something out from a menu, come up with something that really means something to you whether it’s your children or deceased sibling and creates a tattoo that speaks to you in a way that you can look at it for years to come without changing your mind.

Polynesian half-sleeve tattoo

Polynesian half-sleeve tattoo

Now once you’ve decided on the design, it’s best to keep the design with you for six months to a year and if after that time period you still like it and you still want it, it’s probably time to get a tattoo and you won’t change your mind about it anytime soon. In other words, if you’re in a hurry to get a tattoo, you’re likely not in the right mindset to get it at this point in time.

That being said, there have been advancements in the ink technology in recent years. Some New York University students came up with ink that actually can fade automatically after I think three months, six months, and a year. Alternatively, the tattoo can also be removed with a special solution by your local tattoo artist and no lasering is necessary. On that note, lasering away a tattoo doesn’t always work 100% so it pays to really think about it and not just rely on being able to get rid of it after the fact.

The art of tattooing

The art of tattooing

What To Expect…

First of all, there should be a good vibe between the tattoo artist and you so everything is clear and there’s a good level of communication.

The artist will apply a stencil to make sure you have the size as well as the angle exactly right. The first needlework will be the outline which is done with a loaded tattoo gun and a liner needle. Because this liner needle covers the smallest surface amount, you will likely have the most pain at this stage of your tattoo process.

After the artist is done with the liner needle, he’ll probably rinse your tattoo area and will then use broader needles to add shades to your tattoo. Once the tattoo is completely inked, it will be soaped and washed and you’ll get a sterile bandage on top of it. Definitely expect some slight bleeding during and after the process.

Before settling on a tattoo studio, I suggest to read some reviews, maybe talk to friends with a good experience, and also read up on the latest technology of inks and the tattooing process.

Tattoo Dos & Don’ts

Ta Moko

Ta Moko

1. Study Up Your Design

By that, I mean really think about what you want, get inspired by different tattoos so you end up with something you truly love.

Be sure to choose a reliable tattoo parlor and artist

Be sure to choose a reliable tattoo parlor and artist

2. Choose A Reputable Tattoo Parlor

Otherwise, you may end up with something that looks really really terrible. It goes without saying that it should have several sanitary measures to guarantee safe procedures. For example, that means the artist should wear gloves and the needles should be sanitary and taken out of the package in front of the customer. Furthermore, different artists have different areas of tattoo expertise and you should try to find a perfect match for your design.

3. Hydrate

Do drink plenty of water the night before you get a tattoo because you don’t want your skin to reject the ink because you’re dehydrated.

A tattoo studio

A tattoo studio

4. Stay Still

Do try to remain as still as possible in the chair, otherwise, the artist might get frustrated and it will hurt you more.

5. Expect To Shell Out Cash

Do expect your tattoo to cost anywhere from five hundred to a thousand dollars for a small one and of course, a lot more for bigger all body tattoos. Remember, you’re essentially hiring an artist to create a piece of art and you shouldn’t try to lowball him and instead give him a good tip. A common phrase in the industry states “Good tattoos aren’t cheap and cheap tattoos aren’t good”. Because your body’s immune system naturally attacks the tattoo, it will fade over time and so you may have to go in for touch-ups and because of that, it pays to have that good long-term relationship which is helped by tips.

Tattoo aftercare infographic

Tattoo aftercare infographic

6. Follow Aftercare Instructions

Do follow the aftercare instructions to the tee, otherwise, you may end up with a disfigured tattoo or even worse, an infection. The exact healing time can vary from person to person but in general, it takes about 2 weeks. You should definitely wait that long before you expose a tattoo to the sun, salt water, or other abrasive elements.

Neck tattoo by James from Australia

Neck tattoo by James from Australia

7. Don’t Get Inked On Your Neck, Hands, & Face

That way, it’ll always be easy for you to look professional, you can have business wear and you can go about your own business without people bugging you about your tattoo.

8. Don’t Tattoo Sensitive Areas

Don’t tattoo potentially sensitive areas, you know what I mean! Don’t tattoo your foot soles!

A really bad tattoo

A really bad tattoo

9. Don’t Get A Tattoo Under The Influence Of Drugs Or Alcohol

Don’t get a tattoo under the influence of alcohol other drugs or peer pressure. It’s simply not worth it. Also, think about it this way, just like nobody should be able to talk you out of getting a tattoo, nobody should be able to talk you into it. It’s your decision and your decision alone.

10. Don’t Get A Tattoo Just To Impress People

Don’t get a tattoo to impress people to get a certain standing or to be perceived as a badass or maybe even to commemorate a relationship. Why? According to a 2017 study from Poland, tattoos don’t make you any more or less attractive to women in general. While some women do consider men with tattoos to be healthier and more masculine, that same group of women also thinks that those people are not as nurturing in a relationship or partnership.

CONCLUSION

Tattoos are one of the oldest art forms of personal self-expression in terms of style and you should choose them wisely so they reflect your personal style, don’t let others or substances pressure you into or out of it and it’s important for you to do your homework so you end up with something that you’re proud of.

Do you have any tattoos? What are your experiences?


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