Preparing For a Tattoo
Whether you’ve decided to get a tattoo or you’re still trying to decide; these are some helpful hints to insure you know what to expect and how to prepare.
What to do the night before getting a tattoo
Please don’t drink heavily the night before your tattoo appointment. Even if it’s not enough to make you hung-over, it could still thin your blood the next day.
Drink lots of water!
Get to bed on time and make sure to get plenty of sleep. Sure it might feel like Christmas Eve and be hard for you to get to sleep, but getting plenty of rest tends to make it easier to sit calmly the following day.
Check to make sure you have enough money to cover the cost of the tattoo, a tip, and any bottled water, juice or other snacks you might want either while or after you get tattooed.
If you have an appointment, but are unsure about anything please call the studio well ahead of time to verify your appointment time. Make sure you know exactly when to be there and how much it will cost.
Make sure to print off any reference material you might need to help the artist create your artwork, the more the better.
Some people have medical conditions which require a doctor’s note beforehand. If you fear this may apply to you, please call the studio ahead of time to verify if your condition requires a physician’s authorization form. If necessary you may have come into the studio to obtain the form to have your doctor sign before getting tattooed.
If you’re getting sick, or are outright sick, please call the studio ahead of time to reschedule your appointment. Don’t come in to get tattooed when you are sick! Not only is it unfair to expose the artist, employees, and other clients to your sickness; it may very well hinder your tattoos healing process. If the artist notices you’re sick, they have the right to not tattoo you at the moment, which could result in you losing your deposit.
All of this is still true for a spontaneous tattoo! Please don’t impulsively decide to get tattooed after a night of heavy drinking; if you’re either using or have recently used illicit drugs; if you don’t have enough money; or if you’re unsure if you really want a new tattoo. You can always come to the studio another day, we’re here six days in a week.
What to do the day of getting a tattoo
Pack a small bag with: bottled water or juice, a fully charged cell phone (with headphones if you want to listen to your own music or to play games), snacks (particularly ones high in carbohydrates and protein like granola bars, nuts, chips, crackers, or fresh fruit), and a pillow or small (clean) blanket. You might want to make sure you have a ride home if you think there’s a chance you’ll need one.
Don’t forget your artwork/reference material or your wallet!
It might seem to go without saying, but please make sure you shower or bathe beforehand. Unless you’re getting an underarm tattoo, please also wear deodorant. You should consider wearing clothes that it won’t matter if you get ink stains on. Even in the summer it’s a good idea to bring a sweatshirt or something warm to wear because getting tattooed can sometimes make you feel cold.
The area to be tattooed, and usually a large space surrounding it, will need to be shaved to prepare your skin for the tattoo. Some clients prefer to shave the area themselves beforehand and are welcome to do so, so long as they know that if for any reason the artist is unhappy with the client’s shaving job, they’ll do it again themselves. Tattoo artists are used to shaving people for tattoo preparation so you don’t worry about being shy or embarrassed, they’ve seen it all.
Always eat a full meal before heading in to get tattooed! Eating heavy and filling foods helps in particular because they tend to last longer. Not being hungry will make it easier for you to sit calmly.
We will not tattoo anyone under the influence. It’s actually illegal. Even the smell of one beer could get you turned away. If you have an appointment and are turned away for being intoxicated and/or under the influence, you may lose your deposit. If you feel you must take something beforehand, please ask your artist ahead of time if what you take will be an issue. Following the directions/warnings on the bottle and taking a small amount of Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Midol or other similar products is usually fine, but you shouldn’t expect it to help with the tattoos pain and should understand that it will thin your blood which could potentially make you harder to tattoo. If you are on any regular medications, you might consider asking your doctor ahead of time.
Don’t drink a bunch of caffeine or energy drinks before coming in! It will not only thin your blood; it will make it harder to sit still.
You may need a doctor’s note if you have medical conditions like a bleeding disorder, a heart condition, or if you have to take antibiotics before going to the dentist. The consent form you’ll have to sign has a detailed list of these conditions. Don’t worry, saying you have one of these conditions doesn’t usually mean we can’t tattoo you; it may only mean you’ll be asked to come back with a doctor’s permission. We want you to be safe when getting tattooed so please understand that we do this for your well-being.
You need to always show up on time, while also keeping in mind that sometimes an artist may be running a little behind. The person ahead of you might be taking longer than expected. You’ll be happy they take the extra time to make sure you’re happy once it’s your turn, so please try and be understanding. You can use this extra time to get comfortable with the atmosphere, find the restroom and smoking area, fill out paperwork, and introduce yourself to the front counter employee. This is always a good idea in case you need to ask them for assistance while you’re getting tattooed. Counter staff is usually willing to help you if you need it, as long as they’re not too busy.
Plan to rest after getting tattooed. Taking time afterward to relax and clean up your new artwork can help with the healing. Preparing dinner earlier in the day is sometimes helpful because getting a tattoo can make you surprisingly hungry and tired.
What to do and what to expect while getting a tattoo
Yes it will hurt, but probably not nearly as bad as you think it will. Unless you don’t think it will hurt at all. Then it might hurt really, really bad. Tattoos have been described as feeling somewhat like an “electric cat scratch”; tingly and scratchy at the same time.
A very small and simple tattoo could take as little as ten minutes to apply. Most will take much longer than this. Except for large tattoos, (which usually get breaks) you’re probably going to have to sit still the entire time of the tattoo.
You will want to prepare yourself to endure pain for that long, without moving around. You’ll have to figure out how to keep yourself calm and will perhaps want to practice calming yourself down by breathing through the pain. If you’ve taken classes or practiced any yoga or meditation you’ll benefit from the breathing exercises you learned.
Don’t be afraid to tell your artist that you’re nervous or scared. They see nervous and frightened people all the time and can often help your state of mind by explaining the process to you. Usually they can give you some funny anecdotes about other people worse off than you!
Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance if you are nauseous, dizzy, or feel confused about anything. Sometimes people feel faint when getting tattooed, particularly during the first few minutes, (sometimes even if it’s not their first time!) there’s no need to be embarrassed or afraid. Let the artist know if you are feeling anything unusual besides the tattoo itself.
Tattoo needles are not like hypodermic needles! They’re not hollow, they don’t penetrate the skin entirely (a few millimeters at most), and they do not inject anything into you. If it makes you feel more comfortable, you may ask your artist before they start if they can show you what they are using. This might help some people feel less anxious.
You’ll need to sit however the artist asks you to sit which might be difficult at times. From your perspective it may even seem harder for the artist to reach an area in these positions, but artists are also concerned with stretching out the skin not just reaching it. Be careful if you find yourself straining to hold a position because it may make you shake or twitch. You’ll have to try your absolute best to stay completely still in the position they choose. If your leg or arm falls asleep or if you feel like you can’t maintain a position much longer, let the artist know before it becomes a struggle for you! There are often alternative positions the artists will have you try to make it easier for you.
Needless to say, if you ask to take frequent breaks or feel the need to constantly adjust your position to see the artist’s progress, it’s going to take longer. The artist will work as fast as they feel comfortable working, but you should be aware that regular stops tend to break up their rhythm and could make it take much longer. Think of it as, “Are we there yet?” syndrome.
If you’re familiar with other kinds of artists, you won’t be surprised to find that sometimes tattoo artists can be very introverted. They may prefer not holding a conversation while they’re tattooing. It wouldn’t hurt to ask them beforehand if they’ll mind conversation. If they don’t and you feel you’ll need to talk to someone to help you cope, bring a friend. Wearing headphones and listening to music or audio books might also help you relax.
During the entire procedure you’ll need to pay attention to any instructions the artist might give you. They might need you to remove your belt, lower a sock, turn an elbow, take a breath, sit up straight, slouch over, or whatever, but you’ll need to be paying attention for when they do ask. If you feel uncomfortable you can always let the artist know.
During longer sessions, ask to take breaks if you need them. Usually a tattoo artist will allow a break every hour or so. Much more than that can interrupt the progress. When you do get a break make sure to use it wisely; use the bathroom, smoke a cigarette, drink water and munch on your snacks. You’ll probably notice that after a break the tattoo hurts pretty badly. Consider this another reason to limit the number of breaks you request.
Hold still! If you find yourself needing to cough, readjust your position, stretch your leg, wiggle, laugh, or flinch; you have to give the artist warning first. You should also not assume that because you don’t hear the machine running, they don’t still need you to be motionless.
What to do after getting a tattoo
Please wait until after the artist has removed their gloves and washed their hands to offer them money…and please don’t set any money on their furniture or equipment! You can usually take care of the bill with them at the front counter as they go over your aftercare.
It’s a service industry, an incredibly intimate one in fact, so yes you should tip your artist. The normal tipping percentage is around the same amount expected for other service industries, which are again, less intimate.
The aftercare for your tattoo will be given to you both verbally and in writing to take home with you. Even if you’re feeling kind of out of it or are tired, it’s still very important to listen to and pay close attention to your aftercare instructions.
Ask about our aftercare products to aid in the healing of your tattoo. Our studio conveniently offers a variety of products for sale at the front counter.
Ask about touch-ups for your tattoo. Our artists usually offer a free touch-up if necessary, but there are sometimes rules about when and how you may obtain these follow-up sessions. Be aware that if you don’t follow the aftercare instructions and choose to do something detrimental to your tattoo, your artist might not only be disappointed with you, they might not do touch-ups for free.
As with any healing, the better you take care of yourself the better your body will heal. In the days preceding your new tattoo please take good care of yourself. Drink lots of water, get plenty of rest, and try and keep your body fed and nourished.
Excessive drinking will inhibit your healing processes, particularly the first night after getting a new tattoo. Take it easy and your tattoo should thank you with a quick, trouble free heal.
If you had a good experience, tell others about it. We would love it if you tagged us in pictures and posts where you write about how happy you are with your new tattoo, and how awesome we all are! Word-of-mouth is an artist’s best form of advertising.
If you had a bad experience, feel free to let the artist know by directly contacting them. If you’re still unhappy you can always email, call or come into the studio to talk with the Artist. Unfortunately, because our tattoo artists are all independent contractors, we only have so much we’ll be able to do, but we’ll still try our best to make you reasonably happy. Understand too that artists are human. They can make mistakes or sometimes have a bad day, but they’re usually willing to help if you were displeased with your experience. Most will be glad to hear your feedback to help them do better in the future, but you’ll have to tell us for us to improve, so please do.
Don’t be afraid to call your artist or the studio with questions about the tattoo. Our artists and staff are more than willing to explain aftercare, do follow-up check-ins, or just give you any information you may need.
The only silly question is the one you don’t ask.