Things to Consider Before Getting a Tattoo

Getting inked is a big decision. Or it should be. While a lot of people might fall prey to a (drunken?) spur of the moment decision to commemorate their dead fish Lucy or because they want to look like Angelina Jolie, you can avoid a similar mistake by sitting down now and seriously evaluating whether getting a tattoo is right for you. Here’s a list of six things to consider before you ever set foot in a tattoo shop:

Why Do You Want a Tattoo?

Perhaps your dead fish Lucy was pretty special, but you need to ask yourself if you’ll still feel the same way about her loss in two and 10 and 20 years. Tattoos are relatively permanent; you can have them removed, but the process and likely scar aren’t ideal. Thus, you need to contemplate why you want one and whether that reason will hold the same significance for you throughout all stages of your life.

What Design Would You Choose?

Since you’re going to have to look at your tattoo for the rest of your life, you should make sure it’s a good one. Look at pictures of other people’s tattoos, sketch your own and/or talk to a reputable artist. Your tattoo design should reflect your own personal experiences and not anyone else’s.

Where Would You Put It?

Similarly, you need to think about where you would put a tattoo. If you plan on a career in corporate America, having a visible tattoo might affect your job opportunities, especially if it’s on your face. Do you want people to know you have a tattoo or would you rather keep it private? Furthermore, tattooing some parts of the body (such as your ankle) is more painful than others (such as your bicep), so you need to consider how well you tolerate pain and adjust your plans accordingly.

Who Would You Trust to Do It?

Like companies utilizing the process of market research to gather information before they make big decisions, you, too, should do your research. There are thousands of tattoo artists and shops in the U.S., with each state administering its own licensure laws. In order to find reputable shops with exceptional artists, you will need to get recommendations, read reviews and visit shops yourself. Make sure that any potential tattoo shops and artists you might work with are properly licensed. Also verify that shops are clean with artists using new gloves and sterile needles with each client. Finally, you should review as many artist portfolios as possible to ensure that the artist you choose has the necessary skill to give you the tattoo you want.

When Would You Do It?

You can get a tattoo in the middle of summer, but it’s not recommended. Timing matters. New tattoos should be kept out of direct sunlight, making the spring and summer months (when people wear less clothes) a poor time to get inked. Think about whether your schedule will accommodate the time it takes to get a tattoo in the winter and fall and whether you will be able to properly care for it as it heals.

How Will You Pay for It?

Last, but not least, good tattoos can be expensive. The size, color and detail of the tattoo, along with the artist’s experience and demand, determines how much you will pay for it. For particularly large tattoos, you might be able to pay your bill in installments, but you will still need to figure how you will finance the overall project. You might want a tattoo, but you probably don’t want to go into debt getting it. You also probably don’t want to skimp on the design just to be able to afford one, either. Getting a tattoo is a big decision, but with a little preparation, you can make sure you get what you really want!