So, at the weekend I had my first tattoo. I did it to raise money for the Make A Wish charity and if you want to read more about why I did it or donate a couple of quid for a great cause you can do so here. So having popped my tattoo cherry I bring you my top 10 tips just in case you want to pop yours.
1. Take your time to find the right design. I have pondered having a tattoo for years but I changed my mind a few times about what I would have done. Nothing seemed quite right. Anyone who reads my blog knows that narrowing things into top 5 or 10 countdowns is often a challenge. Because I was doing this to raise money I wanted something that would symbolise me and Robyn. When I spotted the heart wearing headphones it was a real eureka moment. Robyn is having heart surgery for the third time soon and for me life and music are so closely entwined. Everyone I showed the design too just said ‘yep, that is the one’. It is a personal and instinctive choice, trust your gut.. and your heart.
2. Ask for recommendations to find the tattoo studio you want to use. My friend Chris made a couple of suggestions, the studios were easy to check out online. Look through the examples of work done there, do they appeal, is it the right style? What are other peoples reviews of the place like?
3. Talk to them before committing yourself. If they talk to you like you are dirt avoid. A couple of years ago I went in to a studio to ask for some advice. I had read an article about tattoo’s on ears and was considering a very small tattoo on or behind my ear. The man I spoke to was dismissive, rude and patronising. He told me not to be so stupid, that he would refuse to do a facial tattoo as a first tattoo (despite never asking me if I had any tattoos and I have a facial piercing) and that I didn’t understand it would be a permanent scar. I was so upset about being spoken too so harshly when I had simply wanted advice from someone in the know that I didn’t tell him I have permanent scars all over my body from child birth and operations.
4. You will be asked to provide the design and then the studio will probably recommend a specific artist based on it’s style. I was also given an idea of how long the tattoo would take. You can’t drink or take drugs before your session, even if you are nervous and it isn’t until later in the day.
5. You can buy numbing cream for less than £5 from the chemist (yeah OK, I do mean Boots) but it is worth checking with your tattooist first. I bought mine and then checked and was told not to use it because some people believe it can interfere with the quality of the finished tattoo.
6. When you get into the studio the tattooist (mine was called Josh) will draw up your design, discuss the position of the tattoo and transfer it onto your skin so you can check you are happy with the size and position. You will also need to complete a form about your medical history, HIV status and provide some form of ID to confirm your age if there is any doubt you may not be over 18.
7. OK, the pain. I had mine is a fleshy place, the top of my arm. The pain was fine. Granted I have a pretty high threshold these days. My brain blew up, I’m not bragging but that kind of thing really does raise the bar of where 10 is on your pain scale. The inside of your arm is more sensitive and places closer to the bone sting a lot more. Apparently feet are painful which is annoying as I have an idea for a foot tattoo…
8. There will be blood (really need to watch that film) but not much and Josh kept cleaning the area. Don’t look if it makes you feel a bit faint.
9. When you are done the tattoo will be covered with cling film. I was told to keep it on for about 3 hours and then start washing the area 3 times a day with mild unscented antibacterial soap, let it air dry and smooth on a thin layer of Bapanthen (nappy) cream. I’ll follow this for the next 14 days while the tattoo heals. Sometimes there can be a scab or the area can itch but so far that’s not been a problem. I have also been told not to soak the tattoo in the bath or pull off anything that may stick to it (like clothes or bedding) and run water over it instead. Also not to pick, scratch, scrub, shave, sunbathe, sunbed, sauna or swim. That is a lot of S words there. Josh added I should drink lots of booze now it was done and sit down a lot. In fairness that was because I asked him too.
10. Enjoy! If you have made a considered choice of both tattoo and tattooist and followed the aftercare advice you will be left with a piece of your own personal art.
Everyone is already asking what the next tattoo will be. I can see how tattoo’s can be addictive and once you know what the pain is actually like the idea of going for another seems far less intimidating. So will I have another? We’ll see……