What to expect when getting your first tattoo:
You should be well-rested and fed. If you are tired, if your blood sugar is low, and you may experience a higher level of discomfort than you normally would. Get something eat about an hour or two before you go in for your session. Having sweets, chocolate or some juice to have during the session is also recommended
Do not drink alcohol before getting tattooed or drink heavily the day beforehand. Not only do you become dehydrated, it will also cause you to bleed more and consequently may have a negative effect on your new tattoo.
Once you’re in the chair the artist will begin preparing for your work. First the design will have to be worked on. Most artists will play around with the design on paper first, although some artists will do it freehand. “Freehand” means the artist takes an ink pen to hand and begins drawing a design on your skin without the use of a stencil
The artist will ask you to check the design & placement of the tattoo (possibly in the mirror) to make sure you are happy with them. Once you are happy with these, the artist will begin preparing to tattoo your design onto you (such as dispensing various colours of ink into little disposable wells and rigging a new set of needles into the tattoo machine etc)
There will be blood – the amount varies, but usually it is about the same as you would have after a grazed knee or rug burn.
The level of pain varies from person to person, but most people don’t find it unbearable. Try to stay calm, your anxiety about the anticipated pain may trigger a fainting spell the best thing to do is to relax. Fighting or tensing will only increase your discomfort.
Occasionally if nervous, people may tense up (clench your jaws, grind your teeth or grasp the chair etc. The most painful part will be over in a few minutes. Try to relax and remember to breathe deeply. If you still feel uncomfortable after a few minutes, it may be because you’re sitting in an uncomfortable position. If you need to change position, stretch, go to the bathroom, sneeze or move (even slightly) for any reason, let your artist know beforehand.
Most people can sit through at least an hour of work, but if you get uncomfortable, just ask your artist if you can take a break. If you begin to feel lightheaded or dizzy, tell your artist immediately. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break, your artist will be prepared for this and knows how to deal with it.
Choosing a tattoo
There are two basic types of tattoos: Flash and custom. Flash is the stock designs you see on the walls of the shop. You can choose a design from here, or use one or several designs combination or as inspiration for a custom piece. As you would imagine, custom means a design you bring into the studio with you or that you have an artist draw up for you.
The important thing to remember is that the flash on the studio walls is not the full range of designs done by the artists. All artists will be happy to make changes to the flash or to draw up a custom design for you.
Choose a design you like. You will have to live with your tattoo for the rest of your life. Discuss the size, placement & colour of the tattoo with your artist to make sure you get the tattoo you want. Sometimes it is better to leave the artistic aspects of your tattoo up to the wisdom and experience of your chosen artist, but don’t be afraid to speak up if you have any concerns about the design.
Give the location of your tattoo a lot of thought. It will be there forever. If your concerns are for the sensation and level of discomfort involved your artist should be happy to discuss these aspects with you.
Choosing an Artist
You should find an artist whose work you like, who will work on you safely. Ask people where they got tattooed, especially if you really like their work. Ask to see the artist’s portfolio. (Usually, photos are taken immediately after the tattoo was done. This means there can be redness and swelling – this is usual and you should not be concerned or put off by it.) As well as assessing the style and artistic skills of the artist & making sure that they work in the style you are looking for, you should also check whether the lines in the tattoo are clean & smooth or broken & jagged and whether they meet up.
You should always take the time to do some research – check out several studios and artists before you decide on your artist. This will help ensure that you are happy with your tattoo.
When visiting studios make sure the shop out front is neat and clean. What you see in the front is a pretty good indicator of what you will see in the other areas of the studio. Always feel free to ask about the studio’s safety procedures. The artists and receptionists should be willing and able to answer your questions.
It is not recommended to shop around for a bargain – remember the saying “Pay peanuts and you’ll get monkeys’…. Tattoos are permanent body art. You will be wearing your tattoo for the rest of your life. The rate you pay is for the time & expertise of a professional.
It is difficult to accurately tell how much a tattoo will cost without seeing it and you. If you send us a picture of the design you are considering and give us details of the size you want it and where you want it, we will be able to estimate the cost. The minimum charge covers the sterile set up we require for every customer.
Do tattoos hurt?
Tattoos do hurt when they are being done but the pain is not unbearable or even nearly as bad as you imagine. The pain comes from the cluster of needles on the tattooing machine. These pierce your skin very rapidly. This doesn’t feel at all like the pain of an injection – it’s more like constant vibration. The feeling of being tattooed can be described like being scratched, bad sunburn or a burning sensation. Each persons experience can be different depending on their own pain tolerances. Your body will quickly begin to release endorphins (your own natural pain killers), which dull the pain significantly.
The pain varies depending on where on your body you get worked on. Some places hurt more than others; the Sternum, Ribs, Hands and Feet are very sensitive. Skin right above bones such elbow, collar or ankle bone tends to be more painful than other areas. Other sensitive areas are the Neck, Underarm, Groin area and Head followed by Lower back, arms, forearms, shoulder blade, calves, outer thigh and bottom.
You should also bear in mind that pain tolerances vary from person to person. If you are nervous tell your tattoo artist and they will do their best to make your experience as comfortable as possible.
Always try to eat something sugary before your tattoo as your sugar level may drop.
How long will it take?
First you and the artist need to decide on the size & details of your tattoo, draw it up and discuss your requirements, this can take from a few minutes to several hours depending on the size and complexity of the tattoo. The actual tattooing time will depend on the size of and detail in your tattoo. Kanji or star designs might take ten minutes; a small black tribal could take 45-75 minutes. Larger pieces should as complex back pieces, sleeves, portraits etc will take quite a few hours; Regular sessions are needed until the piece is finished. At each session, you can be tattooed for as long as you and the artist think is OK for you – usually this will be any time up to about four hours.
Positioning of tattoos
It is possible to tattoo just about anywhere on the body, with the obvious exception of the eye. Wildcat Ink artists can do neck, hand & genital area tattoos, however, the studio policy is to urge caution to those considering tattooing commonly visible body areas, as tattoos do still carry stigma and work restrictions. We will need to consult with you on an individual basis if you are considering such a tattoo. We do want you to get tattooed – but we take our responsibility seriously too.
When not to get a tattoo
We do not tattoo minors (those under 18 years of age) under any circumstances. If you appear to be under age we require an I.D. before tattooing you.
If you have any severe chemical sensitivities, allergies, medical conditions please consult your doctor prior to getting any work done.
Do tattoos change with time and body shape?
Pregnancy, weight gain or any form of skin stretching can change the shape of a tattoo. Colours can also fade over time. There are remedies – touch-ups and re-colouring can restore a tattoo to its former glory. It is not a good idea when choosing to pick a tattoo with too much detail in too small a design as over the years slight spreading will occur and detail will be lost.
Can tattoos cover up scars or old tattoos?
This depends on the age & condition of the scar – it may be possible to tattoo over it however, if the scar is still changing or if skin surface is extremely raised or extremely thin, that skin may not accept ink.
Cover-ups of old tattoos are almost always possible. Usually the new tattoo will need to be larger and possibly darker than the existing one. A good cover-up will involve clever use of shading & colour as well as good positioning in order to create a tattoo design you will be happy with and which will properly cover the old, faded or unwanted tattoo underneath.
Tattoo Safety Advice
With the advent of many communicable diseases, some fatal, it has become necessary to institute certain isolation and sterilization procedures in the tattoo process to assure the public of a safe, risk-free tattoo. The following advice has been prepared by professional tattooists working with local, state and national health authorities.
Always insist that you see your tattooist remove a new needle & tube set-up from a sealed envelope immediately prior to your tattoo.
Be certain you see your tattooist pour a new ink supply into a new disposable container.
Make sure your artist puts on a new pair of disposable gloves before setting up tubes, needles and ink supplies.
Satisfy yourself that the shop furnishings & tattooist are clean & orderly in appearance; much like a medical facility.
Feel free to question the tattooist as to any of his sterile procedures & isolation techniques. Take time to observe them at work & do not hesitate to inquire about their experience & qualifications in the tattoo field.
If the tattooist is a professional, they will have no problem complying with standards above & beyond these simple guidelines.
HIV is a very delicate virus and does not survive long outside the human body. Nor is it spread through casual contact. Generally, the virus is only transmitted when sufficient quantities of highly infected blood are introduced into the body of another. The structure of tattoo needles does not lend itself to HIV transmission. The disease to consider when getting tattooed is hepatitis. Hepatitis, unlike HIV, is a very hardy virus that can survive long periods outside the human body and can be transmitted through little more than a scratch with an infected needle. To combat this and any other infectious blood borne pathogen, artists autoclave their single service equipment, use individual portions of ink and lubricant, dispose of used sharps according to OSHA guidelines, use EPA registered virucidals to clean their stations between clients, and use barrier protection. These procedures are called Standard Precautions. Basically, the artist must treat everyone (including themselves) as though they were infectious. That way, everyone is protected and the potential for infection is reduced to next to nothing.
Your artist should be wearing gloves any time they are touching broken skin and should change their gloves regularly. This protects both you and the artist from any blood borne pathogens that may be present.
An autoclave is the only acceptable means of equipment sterilization in the tattoo shop. It is a machine that uses a combination of heat, steam and pressure to kill all pathogenic micro-organisms known to man. If the shop does not use an autoclave, do not get tattooed there. Shops should keep regular records of their autoclave use and testing. Ask to see them if you feel uncertain.
All equipment should be single use. This means that each needle and tube set is individually packaged, dated and sealed and autoclaved. The artist should open a fresh set of needles and tubes in front of you. Any ointments, pigments, needles, gloves, razors, plastic trays or containers used in applying your new tattoo are discarded after use. After the tattoo application, the artist will disinfect the work area with a virucidal that will kill any surface bacteria or viruses.
Wildcat ink are proud members of ABMAI, The association of Body Modification Artists in Ireland. For more information on ABMAI visit www.abmai.org