Tat­too tips for first-timers

Wisconsin Gazette - - Opinion - By Mike Hol­loway Staff writer

“You know that’s go­ing to be on your body for the rest of your life, right?” This is a com­mon — and ob­vi­ous — warn­ing given to those plan­ning to get their first tat­too.

When get­ting that first ink, there are these fac­tors to con­sider: Which artist is best suited to cre­ate the tat­too? Where will you place the tat­too? Should the tat­too have a spe­cific mean­ing?

To help en­sure your tat­too is one you won’t re­gret, WiG of­fers these tips:


On In­sta­gram, tat­too artists can reach po­ten­tial clients with their port­fo­lios. So, start fol­low­ing the artists whose work in­ter­ests you to get a good idea of their styles, images and col­ors. Artists also post line draw­ings on In­sta­gram that they’d like to tat­too. So, if you don’t have an im­age in mind but like an artist’s style, you can vol­un­teer some skin can­vas.


When you present an idea for a tat­too, there’s a pos­si­bil­ity that what the artist en­vi­sions is go­ing to con­flict with your orig­i­nal idea. The more cre­ative free­dom you give the artist, the bet­ter the tat­too will turn out. Also, not ev­ery tat­too has mean­ing: While your first tat­too may have some sig­nif­i­cance, you’ll find it gets harder to as­sign mean­ing to each tat­too. Tat­toos can be mean­ing­ful or they can just be dec­o­ra­tive or funny. Don’t let the fact that a tat­too you want has no mean­ing be­hind it pre­vent you from get­ting it.


You should con­sider whether you plan on get­ting more tat­toos when de­cid­ing on the place­ment of your first tat­too. You might want to place a tat­too so it can fit with oth­ers. And, if you don’t think you’ll get more than one tat­too, that might change — tat­toos are ad­dic­tive, and the first is hardly ever the last.


Most tat­too shops have a shop min­i­mum — no mat­ter how small the tat­too, it will never be cheaper than the shop min­i­mum. So, if you’re look­ing to get some­thing around the size of a quar­ter, you should ex­pect to pay $50 to $70. Also, artists typ­i­cally charge by the hour. The av­er­age in the Mil­wau­kee area is $100 per hour, but some can charge $150 or $200 per hour. Don’t out­right ask an artist how much a tat­too will cost af­ter you’ve briefly ex­plained what you want — es­pe­cially if it’s over the phone. It’s not some­thing he or she can cal­cu­late on the spot with no idea of the place­ment, size, de­tails and color go­ing to go into the tat­too. If you’re strapped for cash and can’t be flex­i­ble with the price, then maybe the time isn’t right to get a tat­too.


Walk into any tat­too shop and you might spot a sign on the wall that claims “tip­ping makes it hurt less.” It’s ob­vi­ously a joke, but tip­ping your artist isn’t. Most artists pay rent money to the tat­too shop. So, some artists only get a per­cent­age of the cash you’re pay­ing for your tat­too. Many artists also don’t have health ben­e­fits through their work. So tip­ping helps make ends meet more than you think.

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