What design do I want? Where on my body should I have it done? How big should it be? Which shop and artist should I go to?
After countless hours of asking myself these questions, I discovered all it takes to make them disappear is a meaningful design and the right location-both of which take time to figure out and are integral parts of a tattoo you won’t regret.
The most important part of choosing a tattoo you won’t regret is the design. A design that holds personal meaning will serve as a reminder of what it stands for for a lifetime. This can be something as simple as a word or something much more complex others will not understand without an explanation.
My tattoo is a fully bloomed rose with its stem wrapped around the stem of a dying rose. When I first show or tell people about it, they seem hesitant to tell me what they think until I speak up and tell them its meaning. The fully bloomed rose represents who I am today and the dying rose represents who I was some years ago when life was hard and full of pain. Whenever I look at it I know I can, and will, persevere.
Think twice before having someone’s name tattooed, especially if the person is a love interest. A Harris Poll done in 2003 found 17% of Americans with tattoos regretted them, and the most common reason was because of the name in the tattoo.
Take the time to find a personable design. I could have gotten a tattoo of my favorite flower and been done with it, but I figured out what I wanted it to mean and then came up with a design to represent the meaning.
Choose a location you can cover easily when appropriate and can show off if you want. Tattoos aren’t considered appropriate in certain careers and some companies’ dress code states tattoos cannot be visible on employees, so make sure your work clothes can cover it.
My tattoo is on the side of my hip because I want to choose who sees it and who doesn’t. It isn’t meant to be something for me to show off, although I did plenty of that right after getting it, so this is a great location for me.
Also consider the pain factor when deciding on a location. Pain tolerance varies with each person and first timers tend to worry about this. Sources differ slightly on which areas are more painful than others, but the general consensus is the more fatty tissue the less it will hurt. Parts of the body particularly boney (ribs, spine, and the top of the foot) will hurt worse. If the pain becomes too much, don’t hesitate to ask the artist to give you a break.
Based upon my experience, the part of my tattoo closest to my hipbone was the most painful, while the more fatty part actually tickled a little. My boyfriend allowed me to squeeze his hand the whole time too and I think I handled it better because of it.
The chosen design and size should also be kept in mind. A long, skinny design might look best on the arm, leg, or side. A wider design might look best on the back, stomach, or chest.
The size of the tattoo depends quite a bit on the design and location. If someone wants a tattoo of a shooting star, the size can vary from something just a few square inches on the wrist to something a foot long on the side. For a complex and detailed design, such as a face, the design will need to be larger so the details don’t get lost in a small design.
Originally, I wanted my tattoo to be about three inches tall. My artist quickly sketched the design in the size I wanted and one about two inches bigger to show me the difference. I decided on the bigger size because the rose blooms could be more detailed.
I suggest talking your artist about this. They know what size will look best for the amount of detail you want.
Shop and Artist
Cleanliness should be an important factor when choosing a shop. If you’re going to pay someone to stick a needle in you hundreds of times, you better be sure the needle hasn’t been used before, the artist is wearing gloves, and the artist cleans the area before, during, and after.
This decision came easy for me because my friends who have tattoos all went to the same shop and had positive experiences.
Also check out samples of work done by the artists at your chosen shop. This will help you figure out which artist will do the best with your design. If you want a detailed tattoo, look for an artist who has done similar designs before.
The shop I went to has a website displaying work done by all of their artists. One artist had lots of designs with flowers, this is who I went to for mine.