Everyone who has been tattooed or plans on getting tattooed has heard it before, “You know that’s permanent, right?” as if the very concept of what a tattoo is isn’t universally understood. It’s one of those ridiculous rhetorical questions that critical friends and family think will deter you from finally getting inked up. Yes, tattoos are more or less permanent. A fact that everyone is aware of, yet many feel the need to continually remind people planning to get inked as if future regret is assured. However, while speaking with others, I’ve found that regrets only lie in the permanence of a tattoo when the final result does not conform with initial plans. Many people make the mistake of falling for the latest tattoo trend or failing to research their tattoo artist. While trendy tattoos and spur of the moment decisions aren’t necessarily bad things, they often lack the creativity, meaning, and thoughtfulness that can cause the enormous divide between a fantastic tattoo and an embarrassing mistake.
When planning my first tattoo, I spent months debating what I wanted; I would think of a design only to second guess and scare myself out of booking the appointment. Things got easier after talking to a friend whose father is a tattoo artist. She was a phenomenal guide in the dos and don’ts of tattooing. Her advice was to find something with meaning to you, something that you’ll always look fondly on and associate with good memories or times of self-transformation. If you’re going for a common design, tell the artist more about yourself and what the tattoo means to you. Any small quirks that the artist can incorporate into the piece can elevate the tattoo into something unique. A tattoo artist is precisely what the name implies, an artist. Leave some room for creative freedom, see what designs the artist comes up with, their ideas may surprise you. With this, it’s best to have a solid idea of who your tattoo artist is before booking your appointment. Look at pictures of their work on Instagram or the tattoo shop’s website, make sure their tattooing style meshes with your vision of your tattoo.
Julia Mathison is an English Undergraduate working towards a specialization in creative writing at the University Massachusetts Amherst. She currently resides in New York where she spends her free time reading, writing, and painting.