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6 Important Things to Consider Before Getting a Tattoo

Getting a tattoo isn’t as easy as it sounds. First, you need to brace up for the pain and the perceptions society has of tattoos. To avoid covering your design or ordering for a laser tattoo removal, go through these things to consider before getting yourself a tattoo.

What is a Tattoo?

tattoos of Fela Kuti and a lion on Wizkid's arms

A tattoo is an image made in the skin with ink and a needle. It is a form of modifying the body with images by inserting dyes, ink, and pigments, either permanent or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin. The skin is usually punctured with a sharp instrument, such as a solenoid-driven needle, that carries the inks to lower layers of the skin.

Most tattoos have a story behind them although this isn’t a requirement for getting a tattoo. Some people simply tattoo their names, the names of their loved ones or favourite celebrities on their body. Others simply go with flowers, symbols or whatever comes to mind.

Brief  History of Tattoo

a huge tattoo of the Nigerian coat of arms on a man's back

Tattooing has been practised all over the world for centuries. It was mostly practised among Austronesian people in ancient times. They used hafted skin-puncturing technique to design their bodies. It featured a small mallet and a piercing implement made from citrus thorns, fish bone, and oyster shells.

 Also, in 2018, the oldest figurative tattoos in the world were discovered on two mummies from Egypt. The mummies are dated between 3351 and 3017 BCE. Other people who practised tattooing are the Yoruba, Fulani and Hausa people of Nigeria, Polynesians, Malanesians, Japanese, Native Americans of the Pre-Columbian Americas and the Picts of Scotland.

Styles of Tattoos

tattoo on a shoulder

Tattoos have different styles and meanings. Some of the popular styles are:

  • Realism: This style involves using colour and shading contrast to recreate subjects as they appear in real life.
  • American Traditional: This style commonly incorporates roses and skulls which are characterised by the primary colour palette with clean, black outlines.
  • Illustrative: This features intense colour saturation with bold lines. It is a blend of realism and some aspects of American traditional tattooing.
  • Traditional Japanese: This style takes inspiration from traditional Japanese artwork. It features clean lines and minimal shading to create images such as tigers, koi fish, and flowers.
  • Minimalism: This style focuses on accuracy. It features negative space with sharp black lines to create simple and symbolic images.
  • Neo-traditional: This is a modernised version of the American traditional tattoo style. It features heavy shades and colour to create realistic images.

6 Important Things to Consider Before Getting a Tattoo

getting a tattoo on the arm

Before getting a tattoo, you should take note of the following:

1. Be Ready to Feel Pains

If you’re averse to needles or the sight of blood then you really should think twice about getting a tattoo. Just as they say nothing good comes easily, no tattooing happens without pain. And the worst is, the bigger your tattoo, the more pains you feel. This is because your skin will be punctured with needles to insert ink and inevitably, you’ll bleed. This won’t happen once. It’ll happen multiple times up until the artist is done with you.

2. Decide on the Design You Want

Before going to get some art engraved on your skin, you should do your homework on the type of design you want so you don’t regret it once the artist is done. You can ask the artist to show you some designs or search for some yourself via Google. However, if you want a personal design, such as your name, a Bible verse, a slogan, names of loved ones or symbols, you can discuss this with the designer and they’ll deliver according to your spec.

When deciding on a design, go for something you’ll be proud of and happy you did even if it makes no sense to people. You can always consult the artist for their opinion should you be confused. Just make sure you pick something that won’t make you regret your decision afterwards.

3. Decide on the Style and Colour

Make your choice from the different tattoo styles available and ensure it complements the design you’ve chosen. After deciding on a style, other important things to consider before getting a tattoo are colours. What colour would you prefer it to be? Most times, the colour is determined by the style you choose but the artist can maneuver it to suit your taste.

Furthermore, when choosing colours, you have to consider your skin tone. If you’re fair-skinned, colours like red and purple will look great on you. If you’re dark-skinned, dark colours like royal blue, crimson, etc., will suit you better than lighter colours. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get light colours. You can as well use grey, black or deep green as you choose. Whichever colour you choose, remember that they’ll eventually fade over time.

4. Decide on the Size of the Tattoo and Where You Want it to Be

When you know the design, style and colour you want, other things to consider before getting a tattoo include the size and placement. How visible do you want your tattoo to be? Which part of your body do you want it? When you’ve answered these questions, discuss with your artist to weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

Note that there are some designs that suit specific parts of your body. For example, a design of the map of Africa would be best situated on your back. If you, however, want to hide your tattoo from the prying eyes of people, your best bet is to either go for a small-sized one or place it on the part of your body that’s usually covered with clothes. But if you don’t care about all that and you want the world to see it,  feel free to place it on uncovered parts of your body like your arms, nape, hands or legs.

Furthermore, the location of your tattoo has a lot to do with the pain you’ll feel. If it’s your first time, don’t dare get one on your ribs. It’ll hurt like crazy. Instead, get tattooed in areas with plenty of fat and muscle.

Most importantly, when deciding on a placement, remember that corporate organisations don’t accept people who have tattoos. So if you plan to work in a real estate company or any organisation that’d require you to meet with clients face-to-face, disregard getting a tattoo on conspicuous parts on your body like your face.

5. Consider the Hygiene of the Artist’s Tools

Other things to consider before getting a tattoo are the hygiene and genuineness of the artist. Don’t just get tattooed anywhere. Be sure the artist has your well-being at heart. They have to sanitise their equipment before using them on you. Make sure you see the artist pull out a new needle so you can be sure you won’t be endangered. Also, the gloves should be new. Never let the artist use an already used needle or glove on you.

Furthermore, you should do a bit of research on the artist. Find out if he’s legit. The world is going digital and so are businesses too. Tattoo artists these days will most likely have social media pages. Check them out and weigh their works. Remember that some artists flaunt designs that aren’t theirs and not all of them are good with a particular design. Hence, you should work based on trusted referrals to be on the safer side.  

6. Take Care of Your Skin Afterwards

Your skin will react to being punctured with needles. These reactions could come in the form of swelling, burning, stinging, scratching, irritation, redness, lumps, etc., around the tattooed area. If this happens, you should take care of your skin well after getting inked.  A new tattoo is similar to a wound, if you don’t treat it right, you won’t heal. Therefore, you should avoid exposing it to the sun immediately. Apply healing moisturisers and wash with antibacterial soap to avoid more irritations.

And when the old skin starts peeling off, it’ll feel itchy. However, you should resist the urge to scratch it. Your artist knows better and they’ll definitely tell you what you need as aftercare for your skin to heal fast.

Conclusively, getting a tattoo is expensive and at the same time painful. You have to be ready financially and emotionally and you need to follow these 6 things to consider before getting a tattoo.


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Victoria B. Willie

Writing has always been a part of me. From writing stories as a young child to studying Communication Arts in the university, it has always been more than a medium of expression to me.

And then one day, I found myself toeing the path of an entrepreneur and becoming a fashion enthusiast. This made me develop an interest in content marketing and copywriting which I've been chasing alongside my fashion career.

That aside, when I'm not sharing style articles, selling with stories, or creating fashion-forward pieces for Ria Kosher, you'll find me telling wild stories that always come with a twist.

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