Your First Tattoo?
5 Questions for You...


Baby in a Sailor hat showing his "Look Ma! My first tattoo!"

Time for a little exercise to get a better picture of what will be your first tattoo. If you haven't already, read the short write up Before You Ink to get the right mindset for this discussion.

You'll see several links at the bottom of that page, including the Health Risks of Tattoos page. Make sure you at least look that one over (and yes, you should check out the the other links too).

Then, follow these directions. TAKE YOUR TIME! The more thorough you are with this, the more material you'll have to work with. 


BEFORE your First Tattoo...A QUICK assignment:

To-do list form

Before we get started with questions, I highly recommend that you do this simple (but potentially VERY important) exercise.

Even if you have NO CLUE what you want or where to put it, this will get your creative juices flowing and will be instrumental in moving forward. (Click HERE)


Just FIVE Questions for You...

5Qs4U sign

Using your filled out questionnaire as a reference, ask yourself these FIVE SIMPLE QUESTIONS before you get stuck (pun intended) with that first tattoo: 

1.  “Why do I even want a tattoo?"

Question mark

It seems like a simple enough question, right? But perhaps it is the most important question of all! 

Everyone has a reason, but not everyone admits to themselves and others what is really driving their decision. 

Here is a look at my Top 10 Reasons to Tattoo. Any of that sound familiar?

Is getting this tattoo something you want to do FOR YOURSELF? Be honest, because if this is something that you find yourself doing against your better judgment AND/OR mainly for someone else, then you need to STOP AND THINK! 

A tattoo is a life-long commitment to yourself and until you can look in the mirror and absolutely own it...don't go any further with these questions. You are not ready for your first tattoo!

Maybe someday you'll feel different...what's the rush?

If, on the other hand, you didn't even blink an eye just now, please proceed...


2.  “Why do I want this particular tattoo design?”

Girl with an I Hate You tattoo

If your tattoo is intended to:

  • Serve as a message to someone in your life about how you feel about him/her,
  • Rebel against a parent or other authority figure(s),
  • Hurt someone’s feelings, and/or
  • Show other people proof of your affection, loyalty, support or opposition to their organization, movement or group, then...

STOP! There are much easier ways to let people (or groups of people) know how you feel without making a permanent change to the only body you've got. (Consider calling...or maybe sending an email or text to these folks to tell them how you feel instead.)

If, on the other hand, your tattoo design will effectively:

  • Represent something YOU care deeply about,
  • NOT prevent or limit YOUR professional and/or personal aspirations, 
  • Show something YOU feel is a true reflection of yourself,
  • Remain consistent with YOUR ideals and beliefs (now and in the future), and/or
  • Make YOU feel good when you look in the mirror, then

…MOVE ON to the next question.


3.  “Does this tattoo represent a phase or a trend?

Punk Skull Design

Some tattoos are like fads (remember “Pet Rocks?”) – they become outdated fast. Before you brand yourself with a logo, character, or spiritual symbol, consider these points while answering this question:

  • Most things and many of the people in your life will change…even if you don’t.
  • Beauty trends are just that – think Thick Eyebrows on some Hollywood starlets of the past.
  • Music trends – remember Disco? 'Nuff said...
  • Popular Figures and Celebrities will rise and fade as well…who remembers “The Fridge?” (whether you do or don’t upon reading this, either makes my point).
  • Your politics, interests, affiliations and even religious beliefs may very well change over time…as hard as it is to imagine right now.

So…IF your first tattoo design idea is not a candidate for any of these life phases and passes the “trendy test” to your satisfaction, MOVE ON to the next question.


4. “Why do I want to put a tattoo HERE?

Back of the Head Tattoo

No matter where you get your tat, your body is your billboard…and potentially your business card. Think "location, location, location!" (just like your house or place of business) when choosing ink placement...and think hard on these points:

  • If you chose an area that tends to be exposed (such as your face, neck, hands, forearm etc.) weigh the professional consequences. Are visible tattoos going to have a negative impact on doing your work? On keeping your job? Placement is just as important as the design itself when it comes to perceptions that will effect your life.
  • Discreet placement can give you the freedom to decide (as you dress each day) whether to show or not. Example: Upper arm tats (armbands, etc) can be concealed by short sleeved work-shirts. Want to show your ink today? Wear shorter (or no) sleeves.
  • The pain levels vary greatly for different parts of the body (e.g., the upper arm is much less sensitive than the small of the back). That first tattoo will open your eyes to just how much that hype was total B.S. for most areas of your body.
  • Placement sends a message…almost to the same level as the design itself. You’ve heard the term “Tramp Stamp” (for an example). Be prepared to live with judgment and even criticism on a permanent basis.

Once you've considered this carefully and still feel confident in getting that first tattoo (not just the design or meaning, but also where you're putting it!), then MOVE ON to the next question.


5. “Will it still look good in 10 years? 20? More?

Messy old WW-II era tattoo

To improve the life and vibrancy of your ink, it's important to remember:

  • Moisturize routinely, 
  • Avoid overexposure to sunlight,
  • Use a good sunblock...every time.

The finer the lines and the lighter the colors in the work, the more easily that tattoo can be refreshed, altered or covered.

And, while fading colors and blurring detail work can be periodically refreshed by your tattoo artist, the skin will continue to thin and/or stretch in places – making your tattoo look saggy and distorted.

Not all body parts are created equally!

Some areas (such as the face, neck, and upper chest) are easy targets for wrinkles. Others (such as the breasts, belly and hips) are prone to stretch marks (pregnancy or weight changes).

Tattoos on taut areas of skin (e.g. forearms, ankles) are most likely to withstand the test of time, but FYI, some of those rank higher in the tattoo pain meter (e.g. the ankles). It's good to know before you go for that first tattoo...but if you want my two cents on that, I think it's worth the added temporary hurt to put it somewhere that will look good for a long time. 


"What if I STILL end up hating it?"

(Okay, so that's technically 6 questions...sorry!)

Well, there are always options for a tattoo that you hate – including a “Cover Tattoo” and even “Laser Removal”… but hopefully, with a little planning and foresight, you can avoid all that and just enjoy this tattoo (even if it is your FIRST) for the rest of your life!


Hey Tattoo Fans!

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