Tattooed People Share Their Best Tips And Tricks For Any First Timers

Getting your first tattoo is really scary! I was so nervous about my first tattoo that I agreed on a design I didn’t really like. I had a drink before I went in to calm my nerves, only to find out that drinking alcohol makes the pain way worse. I wish I would have had someone warn me and keep me calm so I didn’t end up with something I don’t really like. 

People on Reddit are sharing all their best tattoo tips so you end up with something you love. 


The best advice I got from a friend who is covered:

1. If the artist doesn’t have a waiting list… You don’t want it.

2. Make sure they specialize in your artistic style.

3. It’s on you for the rest of your life, there’s no such thing as a discount tattoo.



Good tattoos are never cheap and cheap tattoos are never good.

You should be paying at least 100 dollars an hour for your tattoo.



Pro tip: If you find a design you like, set it as the lock-screen or wallpaper on your phone/tablet/computer/etc and if you still like it in a year, then that is a good indication that you’ll be happy with it on a more permanent basis.

As another user mentioned, trends come and go but tattoos are forever.



$100/hr should be the artist’s base price at least. My local shop (which has done almost all of mine) asks $150/hr BUT is subject to reduce prices or change them depending on the effort, how well you sit, etc.

They’re artists not engineers, and their medium is a lot more fluid.

If you have good chemistry and like their work, then you’re in good hands.



Just keep breathing, your body builds up an [bunch] of tension when you get shocked by the feeling and stop breathing. If you continue breathing the tension releases and well… it’s way easier to endure it.



Placement placement placement. Sometimes I regret getting my tattoos in certain places because it makes it hard to find work. Although this is on its way out as more companies are starting to care less, it’s still a pain.



First the Don’ts:

Don’t move while getting it done.

Don’t let anyone “set the ink” by slapping it.

Don’t sleep on it until it’s healed.

Don’t scratch it until it’s healed.

Don’t cover it until it’s healed.

Don’t expose it to direct sunlight until it’s healed.

Now the Do’s:

Keep it clean.



Nobody can accurately tell you what a tattoo is going to feel like for you. I watched a handful of friends all get tattoos before me, all saying that their experience wasn’t as nearly as bad as they thought it would be. Then when I got mine it was horrible. It was the most grueling experience in my life thus far.

That said I would totally get another one. Part of my bad experience was placement, but I can still see that it comes down to each person’s pain tolerance, body type, etc.



Many artists/shops now have Instagram pages. A good place to look through their portfolio. Some artists are good at certain styles depending on what you want you might wanna choose your artist by one skilled in a style. Also tip well, if you wanna visit them again do you really want someone permanently marking you after you have a lousy tip? I always give my artist 30% tip, and she always does an amazing job.



I was told to eat some jello beforehand. I’m not sure the reasoning, I think it had something to do with the collagen helping to reduce bleeding. I’m not sure, but I trust my artist so that’s what I did.



For sure:

You get what you paid for.

Start with the incognito areas first. Not to easily hide them, but because your tastes will mature, and you’ll want your most beautiful pieces showing.

You get what you paid for.

The back of the calf is the most painful area, while the side of the neck feels like a massage.

And umm, you get what you pay for.



You’re going to go through phases with your tattoo. Sometimes you’ll love it. Some days you’ll wonder why you did this. I figure it’s like marriage> lol!



  • Check the artist’s portfolio.

  • Make sure your artist KNOWS what you want, this means to actually sit down and discuss in detail what you expect.

  • If you’re not happy with the design your artist comes up with, redo it.

  • If your artist isn’t happy about point 3, find a new artist.

  • [It’s] gon hurt, so pick a spot that’s not directly on bone or overly sensitive for your first tattoo.

  • Swelling and peeling will make it look like [crap], but once it’s healed, it (should) revert back to just about what it was when you got it done.

  • Bepanthem is your friend, don’t be shy, but don’t flood the area.

  • If you’re not sure about a design, see if your artist does print temporary tatts and wear it for at least a few days to get a feel of how it will look.

  • If you start to feel ill, stop, get a drink of water and some fresh air, and wait, but remember that you’re still paying for your artist. It’s better to come back when you’re feeling healthier than to go through the process feeling like shit.

I could go on and on, but there’s a few pointers I’ve got from having my tatts done (3 down so far). Also, don’t be embarrassed about anything, appearance, design, vomiting, they’ve seen it all. They may have a chuckle, but they’re still there to do a job and to make sure you’re comfortable and happy with the final product. If they’re not willing to help you out, time to find another artist.



Eat breakfast and have some sugar in your system before you go. In my second session, I ate breakfast but did not have any sugar in me and went into glucose shock. It’s not fun at all but if you are going to a reputable shop, they will most likely have glucose tablets in case the worst happens.



Be sure that the artist you are getting it with is legit – both skills and hygiene wise by looking at reviews recommendations etc.

Learn as much as you can about aftercare and take into consideration your sleeping habits, work etc. Will you be able to protect the tattoo in the place you get it for long enough for it to heal and what you need to do. Buy good aftercare products beforehand.

Be absolutely sure you want it – I had the idea for my first tattoo in my head for 2 years before I was sure it wasn’t a whim and I ended up designing it myself to ensure it is meaningful enough to me.

Depending on where on your body you are getting it, consider if it will affect your employability. Sadly there are plenty of people and companies that still look down on tattoos.


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Hannah Riley

Hannah Riley a comedy writer and content editor with ADHD living in Seattle, Washington.