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Most Commonly Asked Tattoo Questions

Tuesday, January 20th 2015. | Tattoo basics

Over the course of thousands of years, the art of body modification has been practiced and perfected on a worldwide scale. However, it is still baffling and—honestly, a little scary sometimes—to modern-day patrons who are seeking to receive a tattoo for themselves, especially if they’re new to the art. Throughout my experience in the body art industry, there are several questions that pop up continuously from curious customers. If you’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo, or simply are wondering how the process works, I hope the answers to these questions will help you out!

Q: Do tattoos hurt?

A: This is by far the most common question that I’ve received! Of course tattoos are going to hurt a little bit—after all, a grouping of small needles are piercing your skin at over 1,000 times per minute—but you also have to keep in mind that if tattoos were that painful, would so many people continuing receiving them? The actual amount of pain varies from person to person, and also depends on the tattoo’s location on your body. Most tattoos can be described to feel kind of like a bee sting or a cat scratch. To me, they feel like a laser involving some kind of heat on my skin. Trust me, it’s way easier than getting a cavity filled!

Q: Where is the most painful place to get a tattoo?

A: Generally speaking, areas where the skin is stretched thinner, such as feet, ankles, hands, fingers, the ribcage, and the scalp will be more painful. Also, any skin that is ‘on the inside’ of your body, such as the inner arms and inner thighs will be more sensitive because that skin isn’t as exposed to the elements as often.

Q: What should I keep in mind when designing my tattoo?

A: Sometimes what looks like a great idea on paper doesn’t translate so well as a tattoo. The most common issues when people bring in a design are that they are too small or too detailed for the designs’ size.

Skin is unique as an organ in that its cells migrate over time, which means that the design will spread or shift over the years, no matter how skilled your tattoo artist is. Spaces that are too close together will eventually look like a blur, and you want a tattoo that will stay crisp for a long time! This issue is especially true with lettering and fonts—regardless, make sure your tattoo is large enough to accommodate the complexity of the design! Making sure that the design flows with the part of the body it’s being placed on is also a crucial part of making your tattoo look amazing. Your tattoo artist will advise you on the best placement based on the size and shape of your tattoo design, and they often have good advice.

Q: How much do tattoos cost?

A: It really depends on the individual tattoo artist; most artists are freelance workers who charge on their own terms. The hourly rate can vary anywhere between $75 and $150 per hour, sometimes more depending on what state you live and the shop (L.A. Ink artists charge up to $600 per hour!). Tattoos are permanent, so remember two things: most of the time, you get what you pay for, and you’re making an investment in your body!. If price is the only factor behind your choice in design and artist, you might end up regretting it!

Instead of only considering price, you should also browse the artists’ portfolios to see that they have consistently good work, and also to see if their style matches the type of design you have in mind. Also remember that tattooing is a service industry…you’ll want to tip accordingly when everything’s said and done!

Q: I don’t like my tattoo anymore! What options do I have?

A: So, the butterfly on your shoulder that you got when you were 18 no longer looks good? Is Mark wondering why Tim’s name is on your hip? There are a couple options you can consider if you no longer like one or more of your tattoos. The first and most obvious choice is laser removal, which involves a laser penetrating the skin and essentially zapping apart the pigments so that your body can break them down naturally. However, this option is more painful than the tattoo, and also a good deal more expensive; on the other hand, it is the only practical way to completely remove a tattoo.

Another option is to cover up your tattoo with a different one that you’ll like more. Keep in mind for this that the tattoo will have to be larger than your original one, and will have to be dark enough to cover it as well. Your tattoo artist should be able to help you come up with a design that works with your existing tattoo. Keep in mind that because cover-ups are considered more challenging, that not all artists do them, and not all old tattoos are good candidates for a cover-up.

Q: What are some things I should do before I get my tattoo?

A: Good question! A lot of people don’t look at the tattoo as a medical procedure, which it really, in a way, is. After you do your research and are ready to walk into the shop, make sure that you’ve eaten (within 2 hours recommended) before sitting in the chair. This will not only help ease your nerves, but also make your body more comfortable to sit through the procedure for a longer period of time.

Stay hydrated, but no alcohol! Alcohol is a blood thinner, which makes it more difficult for the artist to work (especially if you factor in the belligerence that comes with -too- much alcohol) and for your tattoo to heal, especially if you drink heavily the night before. For this reason, I would also advise against taking an excessive amount of painkillers. Finally, don’t squeeze the tattoo into your schedule! It can be taxing on the body, and also heightens your adrenaline response if you’re worrying about if you’ll make it to work on time. A tattoo is not the same as getting your hair or nails done, and we won’t simply rush a permanent process so that you don’t end up being late for your next appointment. Would you want us to anyway?

Q: Will my tattoo get infected?

A: At a reputable shop, the tattoo procedure leaves no room for infection; a tattoo shop holds the same sterilization standards as a dentist office would, which includes one-use needles and ink caps, and autoclaved, sterile reusable equipment. Make sure that the shop you have in mind can answer any health concerns that you have prior!

As long as a shop meets the above criteria, then the chance for tattoo infection lies only with the customers themselves. Don’t touch your tattoo with dirty hands, don’t pick or scratch at it as the healing process progresses, and definitely don’t submerge your tattoo in hot tubs, pools, or ANY standing water, and you shouldn’t have any problem with infection! If something does go awry, make sure you contact a physician at the very first signs.

Most Commonly Asked Tattoo Questions

Most Commonly Asked Tattoo Questions

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