Top Tips for Getting a Tattoo

Mid shot photo of Jordanne standing in bedroom with a grey bed, pink orchid and white bedside table out of focus in the background. Jordanne is wearing pink silk pyjamas with her half sleeve tattoo on display facing the camera. The tattoo is a pocket watch with roses around it in black and white.

It's safe to say I am utterly and completely obsessed with tattoos. I have 10 altogether, ranging from different sizes in different areas. I am by no means a professional on this subject by the way, and if you have any concerns etc... consult your tattoo artist first! But these are some things I've learned over the yeas about tattoos and what works for me truly and completely. 

As I said, I'm no professional and some of the tips I am sharing have been in the leaflets I have gotten when I book my tattoos or afterwards but there are a few that I have found work for me and aren't in the information leaflets. I've sat for 6 hours, I've sat for 20 minutes but no matter how long or big the tattoo has been, I swear by these tips.

Getting your first tattoo can be scary, a rush of emotions will flood through you, from excitement to butterflies to complete nerves. Heck, when I went for my 10th tattoo I was shaking with nerves! As I said, I've sat for 6 hours before (for my tight piece) and it was a doddle. I didn't feel it, I didn't flinch, nothing and the tattoo artist told me she was impressed because I sat so well. 

After 6 hours I did start bleeding quite bad, so we had to stop and I went back 4 weeks later and sat for an hour getting things filled in and touched up.

I've also got a tattoo on my foot which took 40 minutes to do and oh my gosh, NEVER AGAIN. The pain was awful, I felt every second of it and couldn't wait for it to be over with so I'll never get another foot tattoo in my life! So, for me, that was my limit. 

Everyone Is different and have different pain thresholds so don't look at someone who's getting a tattoo in the same place as you and then feel embarrassed because you can't sit as long, it's everyone's own experience.

Extreme close up photo of Jordanne's half sleve tattoo from a birds eye view - Tattoo is a pocket watch with roses surrounding it

Research your tattoo artist

I can't stress this enough! Make sure your tattooist is qualified or training in a reputable establishment. Don't get one from someone who has just bought a kit online, that's a big NO NO! 

I can stupidly say that I've made that mistake. I was young, silly and uneducated about it, safe to say I'll never EVER make that mistake again.

So much can go wrong, infections are a major side effect from not choosing a qualified artist who operates out of a reputable business. Not only is it risky to your health, you can be left with a tattoo that will permanently be on your skin that's a disaster....

Have a look into the establishment, check out their qualification because any sane place would be happy to show you them or provide you with a portfolio of work. 

Know your design

I mean this one is obvious right? But you really should have a clear idea of what you want and where you want it. 

Knowing what you want can help speed the process up, but even if you don't know exactly what you want, talk with the artist about it and see what you can come up with together but it really is best to have a clear outline of your vision. 

I wouldn't advise getting a spur of the moment tattoo because it's on your skin forever, you have to live with this design for the rest of your life and there's no point in just going for it thinking it will grow on you... (I done that with one on my hip... it has not grown on me and I want it removed so badly)

Take references

I have always taken references with me and the tattoo artists have been thankful for that because it gives them a visual of what I am looking for then they can go away and create a unique design for me based on that. 

Have a consultation

I would always recommend having a consultation where possible because it can help alleviate some of your worries. This is a great way to get to know the artist, see some of their work, show them your ideas/references and come up with a plan if they are creating a unique design.  

I have had a consultation with 8 of my 10 tattoos and I have found the 8 that I LOVE are the best and the other two are silly ones that I got done in someone's home... I would NOT recommend that. 

Be prepared

Take fizzy/energy juice with you, keeping your sugar levels up helps especially when it's a long Haul tattoo. Know how long you will be there for and prepare accordingly, maybe ask your tattoo artist what they recommend you bring with you or any preparations you have to make like shaving or such.

I would also suggest having music with you wither that be on your phone or iPod etc... and headphones so you can listen to music, it's a great way to pass the time and if it's a long-haul tattoo it will be a god send for sure. This also helps to drown out the noise of the tattoo gun for anyone who might not be keen on it, I know it sends my anxiety through the roof.

Make sure you eat

Have a meal before you go, never get a tattoo on an empty stomach! Having a meal really sets you up for the whole experience. Your body is going to be put through something that will cause stress to it and having a full stomach can help with the nerves.

Know your limits

Be honest and open with your tattoo artist, when the pain gets too much, STOP. Don't push yourself, your tattoo artist will totally be ok with it because they will be just as concerned about your wellbeing during the whole experience as you are. 

If you start getting a tattoo and you can't bare the pain maybe you should rethink it. Just remember though, everyone has a different pain tolerance so someone may tell you a certain part of your body will really hut and when you get it, you don't feel a thing, do go by someone else's standards, know your limits and be open about that.

Be honest

When a tattoo artist puts the stencil on you, make sure it's what you want and where you want it. If it doesn't look right or it's not in the right place for you, speak up and let the artist know because they want it to be good just as much as you do.

When I got my foot one done, I wasn't 100% sure of the size, placement or design really but I was too scared to speak up but now I know that I should have.

There's no point in not letting them know if you're not happy with placement, they will be making sure you're happy with everything anyway.

Don't rip off someone's work

Don't take in a picture of someone else's tattoo and ask for it to be the exact same, every single detail. Just, no. Need I say more?

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is very important, your body is going to be going through a pretty big deal, well, it is a needle rapidly punching ink into your skin.... so, make sure you take care of yourself whilst there. 

If you are well hydrated and so is your skin, it will be in better condition for being tattooed and it is recommended that you make sure you drink plenty of water at least 24 hours before you are due to get your tattoo.

Never drink alcohol the night before

Do NOT drink alcohol the night before or the day of a tattoo, this thins the blood and it can lead to excess bleeding. Also, don't do drugs before you go... pretty much common sense. 

Make sure you DO follow the after care.

I've always been recommended bepanthen to put over my tattoos and it's been amazing. I always follow the aftercare sheet I get given and make sure I keep the area clean and covered. 

Don't have your new tattoo in direct sunlight.... it can fade it. Don't submerge it in water and don't rub or pick at it. Some tattoos may scab, don't pick at those either, it's normal. Picking at it can lead to the tattoo fading quicker and could mean you will need more touch ups and that can be expensive.

And there you have it, my top tips for getting a tattoo. I hope this has been helpful to anyone who is looking for some information before going for a tattoo or committing. Again, I'm NOT a professional and you should ALWAYS ask your tattoo artist about any questions you have, they will be more than happy to oblige.

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  1. These are great tips! I'll never forget being in so much pain having my ribs done, while some guy across the room was having TWO full sleeves done at the same time! He had one artist on each arm, and was sat there like it was nothing!

    Totally agree on researching your artist too, a friend of mine recently let some random girl who had the kit and wanted to practice do a piece on the back of her neck, and the cover up has cost £800 so far, and isn't even finished.

    You've totally reignited the tattoo itch for me though! Haha

    Em x

    1. Thank you! It's so weird seeing other peoples tolerant levels, I don't normally bother but my foot was agony!

  2. I've wanted a tattoo for years and have saved up ideas and never had the guts to do it! Hopefully one day I can face my fear x

    1. Fingers crossed for you! I love getting tattoos, always great seeing the work once it's done.

  3. Honestly, I stopped reading after the section "Know Your Design" because it brought some regrettable memories, namely of my hip tattoo as well!

    It was my first tattoo and as much as my friend encouraged me to only do what I was comfortable with, I had just come out of a painful breakup and was quite ready to do something I wanted to regret. Looking back, I knew nothing about that artist. Just some rando in a studio on Venice beach. While my friend properly interviewed her artist and got the design she wanted, I chose a picture off the internet with a guy I'm sure took advantage of my first experience.

    He charged me near $300 for a 2-3" tattoo of a green carnation that eventually now looks like a cabbage.

    I don't know if I regret it because I learned something of that experience and my next tattoo was much more memorable and treasured to this day. But I sure hate that guy in hindsight for taking advantage! I send bad juju his way whenever I remember him!

  4. These are really great tips! I very stupidly got a spur of the moment tattoo on my back when I was 16. I literally walked into the parlour, picked a design off the wall and it was done an hour later. It’s horrible. I hate it. I’ve lived with it for 21 years now. It’s off centre, it’s gone green, but it hurt so much I’m too scared to get it covered up!

  5. Great post with great tips! Feeling ready for tattoos 5 and 6 now!! 😊

  6. Loved reading this! I use Bepanthen for aftercare too and would definitely say it's the best. If you're in Glasgow at the moment, one of my favourite artists has just moved up - she's @deborahpowtattoos on Instagram!

    MB |

  7. Oh now I have the need for another tattoo! I haven't had one in a while but these are great tips. I have to say, I find tattooing to be therapeutic. I once fell asleep getting part of my back piece done. When I woke up the man next to me getting his done told me I was snoring and that I was the toughest chick he had ever seen...

  8. Love this post and your advice - after care is so so incredibly important. I have several tattoos mainly done by the same person because I trust them, but I've done some serious research and there's so many more I want from some other incredible artists.

    Kate |