The first place to go for good tattoo information, as with all things nowadays, is the Internet. Get on Instagram, Tumblr, even Pinterest. Start small. It’s okay to look up “flower tattoo” to begin with. Get scrolling, and soon enough you’ll be able to discern what attracts you the most. Figure out who the artists are, and where you can follow them online—these days, many tattooists have a booming Insta to showcase their work. Some artists specify what kind of techniques they like to work with, like blackwork which uses only black ink), or stippling (a method that creates shading through dots). The more you know, the more you can decide what you like, which will make for a better experience for you and your artist both.
Tattoo artist Miss Jenny, who works at Hunter Gatherer Tattoo Parlor on 45th and Walnut, says that people have misconceptions when it comes to design. “A tiny infinity symbol gets a million likes on Instagram,” she says bluntly. “But it’ll look like crap the next week.”
The best case scenario is finding an artist whose taste you love and trust. Ideally, you’ve found someone in Philly, someone whose every post has you double–tapping in a heartbeat. Some things to keep in mind when looking for a place to get your tattoo done are (obviously) hygiene (the place should have a license, and use single–use needles that are prepared in front of you) and the consultation. Even if you’re getting something small, you want to make sure that the two of you are on the same page first.
Planning out that tattoo doesn't necessarily have to be an extensive process. “I think because of TV, people tend to give too much meaning to a tattoo,” Miss Jenny says. “I’m more spur–of–the–moment myself.” Just don't go in while drunk—thin blood is a disaster for tattooing, because you’ll bleed more easily and dilute the ink.
Tattoos, whether they're your first or your fifth, are inevitably painful. And yes, seeing the needle seconds before it enters your flesh is mildly panic–inducing, much like seeing the approaching drop of a roller coaster seconds after you made the irreversible decision to get on it. Malkia Okech (C' 19), who got her first tattoo last semester, admits that she "kinda screamed during the process. But it was an empowering kind of pain. Like I felt good after, and after that I'd have no problem enduring that pain again."
There are many ways of dealing with pain—stare at a point, bring a friend, use your phone if it doesn’t cause you to move too much. Most importantly, make sure you have a full meal beforehand and have some water ready.
Taking proper care of your new tattoo is just as important. Use fragrance-free soap and moisturizer, avoid the inevitable urge to itch, and keep your ink out of the sun. After a couple of weeks, you'll be all good. Show it off to the world! Be proud!
And then go for it all over again.
Photo credit: Creative Commons