5 Things to Consider Before Getting Your First Tattoo

Written by: Violet Myers

You once shared a roll-up at the back of the night bus, you’re recycling methods are sketchy at best and you’ve never read the ‘Terms and Conditions’ of any new software ever. You sir are a little rebel and we think you’re ready for your very first tattoo.

But what do you need to know before you take the plunge into baddass world of permanent ink? We spoke to James King, tattooist and owner of Inkletic tattoo in Finsbury Park to get the low down.

Picking a Design
Unless you fancy showing up on the day and doing the old ‘pin the tat on the body part whilst blindfolded’ routine (a technique Chris Brown seems to swear by), it’s probably best to have some sort of idea in mind before you commit to the ink, but what’s the best way to come up with a design?

James: “Some people come in to me and say ‘I want a tattoo’, I say what would you like, they reply ‘I don’t know!’ They just want a tattoo, any tattoo!  It really helps if there’s a path to go down, if you’re too impulsive with it, it may not be the best idea. The best way to get a design that you will enjoy for the rest of your life is to discuss your ideas with a good reputable tattoo artist, they can talk you through a few options on how to get the best result.”

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Psyching yourself up for hours of pre-arranged pain may have you relying on the need for a drop of Dutch Courage, but is it a good idea to prepare for a tattoo the same way one might get ready for a blind date, AKA blind arse drunk?

James: “Absolutely not! You want to be of sound mind and body when having a treatment like this, the nervous system is affected when under the influence, so you won’t sit well.  Not only that but alcohol thins the blood in the body, meaning it will flow easier when having a tattoo, so it makes the job a lot more difficult for your tattooist.”

Dealing With Pain
Alongside childbirth, having a prostate exam and courting Rupert Murdoch, there aren’t many things as uncomfortable as having a hot needle dug into your flesh… it’s generally true to say that tattoo addicts are not in it for the way it feels. People describe the sensation as being anything between a light tickling to full blown, gut wrenching agony. So how’s best to deal with the pain?

James: “I have found over the years, that the people who deal with the pain the best are the people who are most relaxed about getting the work in the first place. When you’re calm and collected, you will find the procedure easier to deal with. Believe it or not some people actually say they could fall sleep. How people deal with pain is totally dependent on the person, some people sit really well, while others surprise themselves by thinking they won’t sit well and really do.”

Choosing Your Area
You may be up for a cheeky song lyric just above the ankle, a sprawling vine across your chest or, if you really want to upset your mother, a full sleeve displaying your unwavering love for a football team. But which bit is going to hurt the most?

James: “In my experience the more sensitive areas are generally the places on the body where there is less body fat and muscle – so around the wrist, ankles, feet and fingers. I don’t tattoo hands and necks of people that aren’t already tattooed with at least one sleeve or visible tattoos, as you never know what career you may want in the future and visible tattoos may impact on this.”

Keep That Tatt Looking Phat
Blindsided by the look of the fully healed end result, it’s easy to forget that in the first couple of weeks a tattoo is nothing more than a colourful open wound; sore, weeping and open to infection. There’s endless conflicting advice on how best to keep your new body art looking fly, but what should we know?

James: “We suggest that the best way to care for a new tattoo is to keep it covered with cling film and to keep the area protected for 2 to 4 hours after the procedure. Then to bathe the area with warm water and a clean hand in order to clean the tattoo. Then you should apply Bepanthen Ointment to the area to keep the top layer of skin from drying out, this would typically be done 2 to 3 times a day. It’s also best to avoid swimming pools, sun beds, saunas and direct sunlight as this could affect the healing process.”


All photos except header image by James King of Inklectic Tattoo.
Inklectic Tattoo is on 49 Blackstock rd, N42JF

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