Getting Your First Tattoo

So, you’ve decided that you’re ready to take the plunge and get your first tattoo. You might be wondering where the hell you even start… Well, that’s why we’re here. By the time you’ve finished reading this post you’ll feel like a seasoned tattoo-pro and will be ready to take on your first tattoo!

Step One: Choosing your Tattoo

Obviously, before you get tattooed, you’ll need to decide what design you want. It’s important to keep in mind that this will be on your body F O R E V E R so make sure you spend more than 5 minutes thinking about your choice. We’re not saying that every tattoo needs to have a deeper meaning, but still, take your time with this part of the process. If we could offer one piece of advice, it would be to choose something original and something that is authentically you. Look for inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest, you can search for key words or specific styles of tattoo (e.g., fine-line, blackwork, traditional, etc.) until you find something that sparks your interest. If you find multiple references you like, your artist can help you finesse the design and make it unique to you! Once you’ve decided on a concept or specific design idea, marinate on it for at least a little while and discuss it with your friends/family. If you still like it as much as you did the day you came up with it, you’re ready to move onto step 2!

Step Two: Choosing an Artist

Trying to decide on an artist for your first tattoo can sometimes feel like the most intimidating part of the process (other than getting the actual tattoo of course). If you live in a big city there are likely hundreds of artists (or more!) in your vicinity making this especially difficult. Once again, Instagram is your best friend. Since moving into the digital age, most artists display their body of work on their Instagram, so you’re bound to find something you like. Try searching location specific hashtags, for example, if you live in Brisbane try searching #brisbanetattoo, #brisbanetattooist, or #brisbanetattooartist. If you see something you like, explore their page and see if you like their work as a whole. Check out the shop they work at as well and start googling reviews. You want to make sure your artist is someone you can trust and that they work in a safe and clean environment. If you find an artist you love but they’re super busy or their books are closed, consider waiting. What’s another few months to get a piece you truly love. As tempting as it is, don’t just go for the cheapest artist/shop. As I mentioned before, tattoos are on your body forever. It’s definitely something you shouldn’t skimp out on, money wise. 

Step Three: The Consultation

Once you’ve decided on an artist you like, and know what you want, you’re ready to make first contact. Some artists like to be contacted directly (through email or DM) and some like to be contacted through their shop so check out their social media bios for instructions on booking. Most, if not all artists offer free consultations, so make sure you take advantage of this. It’ll give you a chance to meet your artist in person to see if you ‘vibe’ with them or not. Do you like the way they talk to you? Do you trust them? Does the shop look clean? You’ll also get to discuss your design ideas, size and placement of your tattoo and get a quote estimate for the piece (it’s important to ask your artist if this will vary depending on how long the tattoo will take or if this is a set price). Make sure you listen to the artists’ suggestions, it is ultimately your decision, but the professional knows best. From here you can book in if you’re ready, sleep on it, or keep shopping for the perfect artist!

Step Four: Preparing for your Tattoo

You’re ready! You’ve booked in with your artist and your tattoo date is rapidly approaching. There are a few things to keep in mind during the weeks and days leading up to your tattoo so listen close. 

Medication: Talk to your artist before the day of your tattoo about any medication you are on. Some may interfere with the tattooing/healing process by causing you to bleed excessively. With the guidance of your GP and tattoo artist, you may need to discontinue this medication a couple weeks to a few days before your tattoo. As a rule, no alcohol or drugs at least 24 hours before your booking and no Nurofen or Aspirin 48 hours before. 

Design Changes: If you decide you want to change anything about your design before the date, make sure you contact your artist ASAP. They may want you to come in for another consult, or it may just be something they can change right away. Either way, listen to their advice. 

Pain: Listen, tattoos hurt, and unfortunately there’s really no way around that. Do your best beforehand to prepare yourself for this and do some research on what areas are the most painful (e.g., ribs/ stomach/ feet/etc.) so you know what to expect. If you’re feeling really nervous about this, ask your artist about numbing cream beforehand. This will differ from artist to artist and some may refuse to use it at all. Again, listen to what your artist says, they know best. 

Step Five: Tattoo Day

The day is finally here! I’m sure you’re feeling excited and terrified about getting your tattoo done, so here are some last-minute tips to make sure everything goes smoothly. 

  1. Make sure you’re feeling 100%. Get a good nights sleep the night before and ensure you’re not feeling ill. Check out our other post on why not to get tattooed if you’re sick and contact your shop immediately. 
  2. Have a big, filling meal at least 3 hours before your appointment and make sure you’re very hydrated. Having low blood-sugar or being dehydrated can make your tattoo more uncomfortable and even cause light-headedness and fainting during. It’s a good excuse to eat something hearty and delicious!
  3. Bring a bottle of water and some snacks with you in your bag. Being tattooed can make you feel really run down, so a nice sugary snack can perk you back up and get you through the rest of the tattoo. 
  4. Make sure you bring your ID (you must be at least 18 years of age to be tattooed in Queensland). The admin at the shop will need to take copies of this and have you fill out a waiver before you actually get tattooed. If you forget this, you will not be able to be tattooed. 
  5. If you’re feeling particularly nervous about your tattoo, talk to your artist about the possibility of bringing someone in with you. Never assume that this will be okay as some shops are very strict about bringing people with you. Once again, just check with your artist. 
  6. Wear comfortable clothes that make it easy for your artist to get to the place your getting tattooed. That means no skinny jeans if you’re getting your legs tattooed, unless you’re happy walking around pants-less all day… Hey, no judgement man. 
  7. Arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment time. As mentioned, you’ll need to fill out a consent form when you arrive. This also gives you time to take a few deep breaths and calm down before you get started. 

Extra Tips: During your Tattoo

Once you’re happy with the placement of your stencil and the design (communicate with your artist if you’re not! PLEASE!), your artist will begin the tattoo process. 

  • Prepare yourself mentally and stay hydrated throughout. Tattoos hurt, but your artist will do their best to make you as comfortable as possible. 
  • If you’re struggling with the pain, let your artist know. You can always take breaks if you need to. 
  • Try and sit as still and as consciously as possible! You don’t want wobbly lines throughout your tattoo because you’re shaking so try your best to sit still. 

Step Six: After your Tattoo

You did it! See it wasn’t that bad! After your artist has finished, they will wrap your tattoo in gladwrap, or use a barrier film to keep it covered and protected on your way home. Each artist will give specific aftercare instructions (check out ours here) so make sure you do as they say to ensure your tattoo heals properly. I would recommend purchasing the aftercare your artist recommends, they know what works best so listen to them. If you follow all of their instructions and take good care of your tattoo, we guarantee that you’ll be happy with the results. After 2-3 weeks you’ll be able to enjoy your beautiful tattoo and show it off to everyone you know! See, it was worth all of that work!

Good luck and Godspeed my friends!

The Fox and Moon Tattoo Team