How to Avoid Regretting Your First Tattoo

As younger people are becoming more accepting of tattoos, it’s become nearly impossible to escape the never-ending stream of first tattoo posts on my social media feeds. Getting a tattoo is something that I’ve thought about since middle school, and nothing gives the psychological go-ahead like everyone you know getting one! However, it’s incredibly easy to regret a tattoo if you don’t plan properly. Today, I’ll share with you my regretful first-tattoo experience through some dos and don’ts, so hopefully you don’t end up like me.

Do: Have a Passion for Your Tattoo

Now, I’m not the kind of person who believes tattoos need to have meaning. If all you want is a pretty picture on your body, then you should just go for it. Buuuuut I have a sneaking suspicion that if you’re reading a blog on how to avoid regretting your first tattoo, you’re probably not the kind of person who can jump into the commitment of a tattoo without some major thought behind it.

This is one I actually got right. Me and my younger sister had been talking about getting matching tattoos for a while, and since I moved over a thousand miles away from her, the idea of getting something permanent to connect us seemed like a better idea each day. Our childhood pups are also now becoming old-man dogs, and we wanted to commemorate them before having to read that terribly, TERRIBLY sad (like crying so hard you have to throw up sad) rainbow bridge poem. So we planned to get our dogs silhouettes tatooed.

A pup example, for your consideration

Do: Your Research

You’re going to hear this advice from everyone but what a lot of people forget to mention is the in-person research that is just as important as the research you’ll be doing on the shop itself.

Of course the people who do tattoos are first and foremost artists. But what I didn’t wholly consider when I booked my appointment (and put down the hefty deposit) is that artists have egos. And some have bigger egos than others. When I met my artist, he was already bashing the kind of artwork I wanted to have done before I even mentioned what I was looking for. Making fun of people who preferred small tattoos, and who got what he called “basic bitch tattoos”. Already I was changing the design I had in my head a million times before I even spoke. What I ultimately described was not at all what I wanted originally, because I was too chicken to disagree with my tattoo artist.

To sum up: find someone who you feel comfortable expressing your ideas and thoughts with. Or least find someone who simply agrees with you.

Don’t: Rush

This seems the most obvious but it’s much easier to get swept up in the excitement of a tattoo than it seems. I was home for Christmas and knew this would be my only chance to get this tattoo for months. But between meeting your artist and coming up with a design you like, my two weeks at home just wasn’t enough. I wish I had a month, just so I could give myself some time to think. If you need less or more time, that’s perfectly fine, just make sure you plan your timeline in advance.

Don’t: Trust Anyone But Yourself

I’m sure you’re getting major 7th grade AIM away message vibes but bear with me.

You need to go with your gut instincts on tattoos. My sister was loving the process the entire time, from the artist, to the design, to the final product. I was feeling uneasy the entire time but I was so sure that if my sister was fine, I would be too once I saw the final product. But that’s definitely not how it works. How you’re feeling during the process is exactly how you’ll feel about the tattoo afterwards as well. It’s best to trust yourself and only go with what feels right.

Ultimately, It’ll Be Okay

My goal with this post isn’t to make you overthink your future tattoo into non-existence. Bad tattoos definitely aren’t the end of the world and the meaning of tattoos can change overtime. What was once a dreaded image you had to cover up can soon become a funny story or a lesson learned. And if all else fails, there’s always laser removal.


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