What should I expect on my first tattoo?

So you're about to get your first tattoo, but you don't know what to do or expect? Well you're not alone, there are a lot of people out there getting prepared for their first tattoo, and we're here to help. This article will walk you through the process from start to finish; everything from finding an artist and studio to how to care for your new ink while it's healing.

Finding an Artist and/or Studio

The first thing you will want to do is determine who exactly you would like to do your tattoo. Depending on the difficulty and style this can make a big difference. You should spend a little bit of time going through some portfolios on our web site as well as stopping in to see the artist's portfolios in the studio.

Discussing the Design

It is important to be able to communicate clearly exactly what you would like to the artist. The more information about what you like, and believe it or not, what you don't like will help this process along. Bringing in references such as graphics you find online or magazine clippings can also be very helpful during this process. Most artists will take note of all of this information and will create a custom drawing of what they envision the tattoo to be. This will be your opportunity to preview what your tattoo will look like giving you a chance to make any final adjustments that are needed. The artist will make a stencil that they will let you test the placement on your body the day of getting the tattoo. You should also discuss how long the design will take and how much it will cost. It is highly recommended to discuss your budget with the artist rather than trying to find out what you can get for the minimum.

Setting an Appointment

Most studios don't require appointments, but they are definitely recommended, especially if the tattoo is going to take more than a couple hours to do. You don't want to be in a rush to get somewhere afterwards, and you definitely don't want an artist to be in a rush to finish a piece of art that is going to permanently be on your body.

Day of Your Tattoo

The day of your first tattoo you will have a lot on your mind. What should I do, what should I not do. Some things are more obvious than others, but we will try to lay this all out to make your first tattoo experience a good one. We'll start with the don'ts and then move on the do's, and then after give you a cheat sheet list of the do's and don'ts.

For the don't, you do not want to take or ingest anything that will thin your blood. This will make the job for your artist that much more difficult because of the excessive bleeding that will be taking place. It may be tempting to take Aspirin or have a few drinks before heading in to the studio, but it is highly discouraged. In fact an artist using their best judgment would postpone the appointment altogether to avoid the potential problems this may cause.

Now for the Do's. The first is pretty obvious, show up on time if you have an appointment. If you don't you can be bumped or rescheduled entirely depending on the artist's availability. Next be sure to be as clean as possible before going into the studio. Take a shower just before and try to take it easy on the deodorant and cologne. The artist will be right on top of you, and you don't want the artist to be uncomfortable if he or she is not feeling your fragrance. Make sure to eat a good meal before going into the studio. This is a fairly obvious one, but often looked over. Keep in mind you may be sitting in a chair for 2, 3, or more hours and you don't want to have to stop the session just because you're a bit hungry. This is also very important because it take a lot of energy for your body to attempt to block out the pain that it is going through. A majority of the cases where people pass out during a tattoo is because the person did not have a good meal, and their body gets completely drained of energy. It is also highly recommended to wear comfortable clothing that you don't mind getting a little blood and/or ink on. Guys usually don't have a problem walking around with their shirt off, but ladies plan accordingly. If you are not comfortable being topless in a tattoo studio and you're getting a tattoo on the top half of your body wear something that can easily be removed from that area. Shirts like tank tops work well for a lot of placements, and if you're getting a tattoo on your back, a shirt that buttons down the back will be the best because you can keep it on.

Last but not least, bring a friend or family member for moral support. Most of the time the artist will allow one person to come be close to the person getting tattooed. So if you are unsure of yourself, and feel you may need a little support, than by all means bring somebody with you to give you that support.

  • Take medication such as Aspirin.
  • Drink beverages containing alcohol.
  • Drink caffeinated beverages.
  • Wear excessive deodorant or cologne.
  • Bring ID and form of payment.
  • Show up early, or at least on time.
  • Eat a full meal.
  • Take a shower, and keep the area to be tattooed clean.
  • Bring a distraction, like a mp3 player, book, or magazine.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • Bring a friend for moral support.
  • Shave the area to be tattooed if it is a hairy placement.

Actually getting the tattoo is the most painful part of the process. You will experience a little discomfort for a day or two after the tattoo is finished, but most people equate this to a very minor sunburn.


When the tattoo was finished the artist most likely wrapped the area in a protective bandage to ensure inks and/or blood do not get onto clothing, and help keep the area from getting infected. You will want to keep this bandage on for at least 3 to 4 hours to ensure that the area gets a good start on getting healed. Be sure to keep hydrated, and if you can drink plenty of orange juice which is great for keeping your immune system functioning its best.

Once you've removed the bandage to you will want to keep this area clean and apply a good moisturizing lotion to make sure your tattoo looks its best. We recommend using a product such as H2Ocean as it is all natural and does not contain alcohol or fragrances. If you do not use H2Ocean you will want to find a moisturizer that does not contain alcohol or fragrances. Apply lotion 3 to 5 times a day and make sure to get at least one good shower in everyday to keep the area clean.

If your tattoo was on the top half of your arm (the bicep area) you will want to avoid using deodorant on that arm until the tattoo is healed because this can turn out to be quite a painful problem.


If you've read through this whole article, thank you and surely your body will thank you. These are just a few precautions to take that will go a long way towards a good tattoo experience. Everybody knows that tattoos definitely don't tickle, but if you are prepared, you will be done in no time, and you will have a piece of art with you that will last a lifetime.

Have feedback about this article, or would you like to contact us about your first tattoo experience? Contact us by using the form below and we'll get to you as soon as possible.

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