- I’m a tattooed person with over 60 hours’ worth of ink, and I’ve made mistakes along the way.
- I regret turning down numbing cream and not asking my artist enough questions.
- I also wish I’d budgeted for tattoos better and stayed hydrated before and during ink sessions.
Tattoos can come with a high price tag and, in some cases, regret.
As a person with over 60 hours’ worth of ink, I’ve racked up a lot of time in tattoo shops. And although I wear my tattoos like a badge of honor and am proud of the ones I have gotten, I’ve definitely made mistakes along the way.
Here are the five biggest ones I’ve made that you can hopefully learn from next time you get inked.
Trying to push through the pain
When I first began my tattoo journey in 2009, I felt like I had something to prove to myself and those around me. At the time, many of the shops I frequented had an almost exclusively male clientele and employed mostly male artists.
The larger macho elements also extended to the culture of the shop in the death metal blasting from the stereo speakers. At times, I also dealt with tattooers who seemed unaware of my discomfort.
Looking back, I realize I was partially responsible for that discomfort. In my larger attempt to come across as strong and try to fit in, I really pushed myself and my body.
Instead of asking for a break or speaking up when things were extra painful, I ignored my own feelings. I was scared I’d let down my artist or embarrass myself.
But in reality, artists want you to be comfortable, and speaking up and asking for what you needed is important if you want a solid tattoo and positive experience.
Not eating or drinking enough during a tattoo session
Getting tattooed can put stress on your body and if you’re not prepared you might feel poorly or even faint.
Although I never passed out from getting a tattoo, I’ve come pretty close. Now, before a big session, I make sure to eat well, get enough rest, and hydrate the night before.
I also pack water or a drink with electrolytes and healthy snacks for my session so I can keep myself going, get the best tattoo possible, and help my artist by being aware of my body.
Turning down or not asking for numbing cream
Tattoos hurt. There’s no way around it and there isn’t any real way to entirely avoid the pain. But one of the best-kept secrets in the trade is numbing cream.
In the past, artists offered to use it on me but I refused and resigned myself to just breathing through the pain. But, in reality, these creams can make the experience more bearable and less painful.
Failing to ask enough questions
When I was first getting inked, I was scared of seeming dumb or annoying so I didn’t ask my tattooer enough questions. But it’s important to know what’s going on with the many moving parts of getting a tattoo, from placement to the expected healing process.
I now know that it’s important to speak up and ask tattooers any questions you have before, during, and after getting inked. Knowledge is power.
Not planning ahead and budgeting
One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned over the years is that it’s worth waiting and saving for a high-quality piece.
In the past, I paid for tattoos as I had extra money lying around. But now I find I’m less worried when I know I can schedule a long session or multiple ones and be able to afford it.
Going to an excellent tattoo artist can sometimes run you over $200 an hour — if you’re getting a large piece you may spend thousands. So before you even book an official appointment, have a consultation with your artist where you can get a ballpark figure and budget accordingly.