You might have thought about it before. More and more people are doing it. Your mum or dad or even your grandma might have one. What am I talking about? Well, the nation’s favourite form of body decoration: the humble tattoo.

Even though I’ve been a body modification enthusiast from the tender age of 13, when I had to battle with secondary school to keep my industrial piercing and teeny weeny stretched lobes covered with my long hair, I only got my first tattoo when I was 20. This is due to a number of things – money being the main issue. I didn’t have a stable source of income until I was working one of my first jobs, and even then, piercings seemed cheaper and more disposable. I raced through half of my face being a fashionable pincushion: my nostril, heavy thick septum jewellery, labret, eyebrow, medusa, an excruciatingly painful conch flesh punch, my 22 millimetre lobes, my genitalia… I had all of these at one time or another. I never thought I would be clean, be ‘mainstream’. Now, I only have a tongue piercing in, and the bare holes in my ears the remnants of adolescence. But I’ve been building up a bank of what I’d like to have inked on my skin for a while. My past trauma is on my chest, a simple quote from Harry Potter that’s enigmatic enough to mean a lot of things, but for me carries one specific personal meaning. Now, this week, it’s time for my next tattoo to signify moving onwards with my life in my new job: the Slytherin crest on my arm.

So thinking about your new tattoo? Here’s some points you might want to consider before you launch into it.

1)   Your reasons. I’m not going to tell you to think about it, because if you’re deeply considering a tattoo, you’d have thought long and hard about what you want and why. But consider the deeper meaning behind it: is it something you should have inked on your skin? What would people think if they saw it? Will it still mean something when your life has moved on, or is it easily adaptable for a new phase in your timeline? Remembrance tattoos are popular, and I feel they’re a therapeutic and often necessary way of dealing with life upheavals. But contemplate the intricacies of having them done and the legacy they’ll leave on you.

2)   Your design. Tattoo artists are creative people. They like coming up with modifications and new ideas – so if you’re coming to them with a custom tattoo, see what they recommend. I’m no artist, so I take tattoo artists’ word on what they feel will work with my body. Listen to them and work with them to come up with a design you both are happy with.

3)   Placement. Placements are almost as vital as the design of your tattoo. A lot of places of work are becoming more accepting to people with tattoos, but having facial, neck, or hand tattoos as your first might not be the best idea; in fact, many tattoo artists will refuse to tattoo on people who haven’t got tattoos already if they request a very visible placement. Consider the growth of hair on the area, how frequently you want it to be seen, and if there’s enough room for embellishments or additions if they take your fancy.

4)   Price. Price is always a factor when getting tattoos. For a good, reputable place in London, you’ll easily have tattooists charging over £100 per hour of work as standard. If you want a good-looking piece, don’t be surprised that you’ll get charged for it. Budget for it and put money aside as a treat for yourself.

5)   Relationships. Build a relationship with your artist and make sure you feel comfortable with them. You will be in a vulnerable mental and physical condition perhaps before and after your tattoo, so take a step to ensure you’re in good hands and see how you feel. Are they talkative, positive, calm, motivated? Do they understand what they’re tattooing on you? Some people just want to get inked and go, but for others, the long-lasting relationship is a benefit, especially if you want them to tattoo on you again and again.

6)   Brace for the drop. For some people, tattooing can be an emotional experience. Be prepared to experience unexpected emotions and get someone to be there for you afterwards. It’s going to hurt, so your body will be reacting to pain. You might have sat for a long time, so you’ll be sore. You might be feeling sad, euphoric, kinda weird. Acknowledge those emotions and embrace them.

I hope that you’ll find the above points useful in considering your next tattoo. There are so many people who tell others not to ink, but in reality, once a person’s mind is made up, an informed and considered choice has to be made about the next steps. So be free – get a billion stars tattooed on your face if you want! Just make sure it means something to you.


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