Friday, December 4, 2015

My Tattoo Stories and My Tips To You

I have three tattoos. Two are pretty large and one is small. I was thinking about it the other day because the small one that I have is a simple flower I have on my foot that I got a week after I turned 18 years old. I got it as soon as I could get a tattoo based on the parlor's availability and legal age minimums. 

I was laying my legs over my boyfriend last week and just looked at my foot and said, "Wow, I've had this for forever." And it's definitely seemed like it, so much so that I think of it as part of my body now, not something I elected to get permanently etched into my skin.

I wanted a second tattoo right after my first tattoo and I wanted it to actually mean something to me. So I researched, pinned ideas, and brainstormed for months before I came upon the idea of a hamsa.  It was unique (at the time), represented my Jewish heritage, and I found a beautiful, feminine design. I had settled on the idea and then it took me four years to actually get it on my body. I graduated college, had my first full-time job and decided that I could get one that wouldn't negatively impact my career. The second reason I waited so long was to find a tattoo artist that I trusted. My friend had gone to a tattoo artist who had done his whole back and sleeves, and did an amazing job. After I had done a little research and emailed him my ideas, I set a date and drove down to Virginia Beach to get it done. 

The tattoo artist did work in a studio, but since we were friends, he took us in his home (don't worry, it was totally set up and sterilized) to get the tattoo. His last appointment was running late, it was a girl who was freaking out about her shoulder tattoo and he had to keep stopping. I didn't mind, so I just ran across the street to get some food and pick up a red bull for him. When I came back, the girl getting tattooed tried to distract herself by talking to me about how many tattoos she's had and which hurt the worst. She wailed, "This one hurts the most, but I've heard ribs are the absolute worst!" I nodded and agreed with her, silently cursing her for freaking me out because I was, of course, getting a large rib tattoo. 

After that whole ordeal passed, I was set up, we drew out the idea, worked on it a bit, and then got prepped to start the tattoo. I had to uncomfortably lay on my side with one arm extended over my head for the whole thing. And yes, rib tattoos do hurt. I took a couple xanax to help me relax and blasted music on my headphones while watching Inglorious Basterds. Three hours later it was done.

It was only one year before I went back for my most recent, and favorite, tattoo. I wish I had been smarter the second time around, but I'm a fool and was scared. I drank about five strawberitas (ugh, why?!), took a rumchata shot, and then xanax on top of that. I was completely blacked out on my second tattoo. I'm kind of glad that I don't remember it because it was a watercolor tattoo and my first tattoo with any sort of shading/color, however, I would do it differently my next time around. The tattoo should have only took about five hours and instead took seven because I couldn't keep my leg still. I feel so bad for my tattoo artist. He's a trooper though and gave me the best tattoo of my life, and even improved on my original idea. 

I absolutely totally love my tattoos and I wouldn't go back and change them ever. Even the silly flower I have on my foot from when I was 18, I still love and appreciate it because I'll always remember when I got it and what it meant to me at the time.

Anyways, if you are on thinking about getting a tattoo, here are my tips for you.

Carefully decide on what you want to get, wait, and then come back to it.

Getting a tattoo can be spontaneous and fun, however, I have had some friends completely regret the decision. This is going to be on your body for the rest of your life. If it's that important to you, waiting for a month (or more) won't hurt.

Research a good tattoo artist and talk to them before you schedule.

I will totally only go to the same tattoo artist now that I've gone to him. We have a relationship and I like his work. Asking friends who have had tattoos (and if you like their tattoos) is a great resource. It's also important to chat with them about what you want before you book something. Maybe you want a watercolor tattoo and their specialty is classic black and white. At that point it might be good to find another artist that is more comfortable with your style of tattoo and will get you better results.

Listen to the artist's suggestions.

They're the professional. For my elk tattoo, I wanted the elk to be running towards the outside of my body and my artist made a good suggestion that most tattoos look better symmetrically pointing towards the center of your body. He also suggested the silhouette of the trees on his feet. One of my favorite parts of my tattoo. Lastly, if you have concerns about the design or are unsure about an aspect of it, talk to them. They won't (shouldn't) mind going back to the drawing board with you.

Be prepared to pay for the quality of your tattoo.

Tattoos are not cheap. Generally, a good tattoo artist is going to charge a heftier fee. That should be worth the extra couple hundred to you. My hamsa tattoo cost me around $300 and my elk/northern lights tattoo cost me over $500 and it was totally worth it for me.

Take good care of them afterwards.

Tattoos can get infected and it's pretty disgusting if they do. Listen to the artist's aftercare instructions or read this for some good aftercare instructions.

Any questions for me about tattoos? Do you have any tattoos, and what are they?

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