Once you have decided on your tattoo design and your artist, you will be required to show valid identification for proof of age. You may also be asked for your address and phone number, so your artist can contact you in the future if necessary. In most studios, payment must be made before services are rendered. It is up to each studio to decide which methods of payment they accept.
After the paperwork is sortedout, you will be seated in the tattoo chair. Sometimes this is in an open work area, and sometimes a private room depending on the location of your tattoo. If you are shy and don't want others to watch, you can request a private room, but be sure you have done this in advance. A lot of studios use dentist-style chairs, some use regular table chairs, and some use benches. Your artist will do his or her best to make you comfortable for the tattoo you have chosen.
Now it is time for the preparation. The area of your body you have chosen for your tattoo will be cleaned, usually with rubbing alcohol. Then, any hair will be removed from the area by shaving it with a new disposable razor which will be discarded after being used. It will be cleaned again to make sure it is smooth and ready for the transfer.
Most studios today use a thermal-fax to make their stencils. This saves hours of tracing time by simply inserting your tattoo design into the machine, and it transfers it onto a special thermal paper in seconds. Once your stencil is ready, it's time to create the transfer onto your skin. Some artists will use soap or water to moisten the skin, and some will use stick deodorant. This aids in making the design transfer onto your skin. When the paper is pulled away from your skin, it will leave you with a bluish outline of your future tattoo.
Then your artist will start preparing their tattoo machine. The inks will be placed in little tiny cups called "ink caps", and the needles and tubes will be removed from their sterile pouches and placed in the machine. Clean, distilled water will be poured into a cup for cleaning the needles during the tattoo process and to change from one color to the next. Some A&D ointment or Vaseline will be placed on a clean surface for your use only.
Now it is time to get down to serious business! A little ointment will be placed over your transfer design for a few reasons. One is that it helps keep the transfer on longer without accidentally rubbing it off, and it also helps the needle to slide along the skin more smoothly, which is certainly going to be more comfortable for you. After the ointment is applied, it is time for the first line. If you're nervous, don't hold your breath. Some people have passed out during a tattoo, and trust me - it wasn't the pain, it was the panic! Take a nice, slow, deep breath and try to relax. The first minute or so will be the roughest. After that, your skin will kind of get used to it and the pain will begin to subside.
Once all the line-work is done, it's time to get creative with a little shading and possibly color. Depending on the size of your tattoo, your artist may switch to a different type of needles called magnums (or mags) which are designed for coloring and shading. They may even switch tattoo machines altogether. The shading and coloring can go along quite quickly, and before you know it...you've got a complete tattoo.
Your artist may like a picture of your tattoo for their portfolio. They'll clean it up real good, and sometimes even apply a hot towel to it first. Then they'll take a picture, and this is a good time for you to get a shot, too, if you brought a camera along. Taking a photo after the protective ointment is applied causes a glare, so it is best to do it now. If for any reason you do not want the artist to take a photo, just say so. You are not under obligation to let them.
Now that your tattoo is finished and clean, it needs to be treated just like a wound. A protective layer of ointment will be applied to the tattoo to prevent invasion of airborne bacteria that can cause infection. Then a bandage will be applied, and it will be taped up to make sure it is secure. It is important that you keep this bandage on for the amount of time your artist instructs, which brings us to our last step: aftercare.
Your artist will now give you aftercare instructions. These should be given both verbally, and on a piece of paper for you to take home with you. It is important that you listen and follow the instructions you are given. From this point on, it is your responsibility to make sure your tattoo is well taken care of. The artist cannot be blamed if you get an infection because you didn't follow directions.
THE SUN IS YOUR TATTOO’S WORST ENEMY
It’s no secret that tanning isn't really good for your skin anyway, but it's even harder on your tattoos. Ultraviolet rays, while adding a nice bronze tone to your skin, drain the life out of a tattoo. The more you tan, the more the ink fades and slowly goes from brilliant to boring.
Does that mean your tanning days are over? Well, I guess that depends on how much you love your tattoos and want them to stay bright and looking their best. If you absolutely must go soak up some rays, at least be sensible and use sun block. Find the highest SPF level you can find and re-apply often if you're going to spend a lot of time outside. If you just can't accept having pasty white skin and your goal is to go out and get some color, make sure you at least protect your tattoos with as much sunscreen as possible.
Although moles are usually benign and we go through life ignoring them, there is always the possibility that a mole could serve as an indicator of cancer. This makes the preservation of a mole important. One of the ways a mole can indicate a problem is by changing color. If it has been tattooed over with pigment, it may hinder your ability to spot any color differences. For your safety, it is best that a mole not be tattooed over.
However, a mole can be tattooed around. Sometimes moles are even incorporated purposely into the design to serve an artistic purpose. Be sure to keep an eye on your mole for any changes in size or color, and see a doctor immediately if it does.
Physical activity (non-contact sports) is usually OK to continue when you get a new tattoo as long as you take extra good care of it. If you get sweaty, take a shower and clean it as soon as you can. If you're a body builder, just avoid lifting weights with that particular muscle for a few days so you don't stretch it too much. Keep it covered if it has to come in contact with any tight clothing that may rub during movement, but remove any covering as soon as your workout is completed.
Contact sports like football and wrestling, however, are much more potentially damaging for a new tattoo. In this case, a tattoo would really not be a wise choice unless it was possible to avoid the sport for at least a couple of weeks.
Changing to a different artist that just happens to work in the same studio as your other artist can be really touchy. So, what should you do if you find yourself in this situation?
If you're not happy with the results you are getting, then by all means you should find an artist that you can feel comfortable with. We're talking about ink you will no doubt be wearing for the rest of your life, and you should never settle for less. But if they are a nice person and you are concerned about their feelings, here are some words of wisdom from some experienced forum members:
- "Collectors do just that. Collect, sometimes from one artist, sometimes from many. Besides, why would you give money to someone who you feel isn't doing their best?"
- "This is your body forever; if the artist isn't doing what you want you have every right to switch."
- "A short term regret is much better than a long term one, meaning an unwanted tattoo."