I recently posted a poll over on my Twitter asking what you guys wanted to see here as far as content, and a Tattoo Q&A won without question. I find that particularly interesting because it was definitely not the option I thought was going to win. In fact, I have skipped over posting a few tattoo and hair dye related posts in an effort to not push away too many of my not so alternative readers.
Newsflash: How many times do we have to tell one another to just be ourselves? Classic example…
So, with that being said, I put the call out on social media asking for your tattoo related questions, and I had some great ones come in! I want to start by thanking each of you who that took the time to share your questions – a Q&A only works with your participation! Now that I know that tattoos are an interest as far as blogging topics go, you can expect to see them come up more often!
Without further adieu…
1. Why are tats so expensive?
Right off the bat let’s address the common statement – ‘but I can get that same tattoo for x’… Tattoo artists take a number of things into consideration when they are pricing their work… Their skills as an artist, the quality of the work and products they are using and their experience. You get what you pay for, and this isn’t a piece of artwork you can easily take off the wall when you grow tired of it! There are a number of ‘scratchers’ as they are referred to that will happily take your money at a lower price, but the work you will be left with will reflect the fact you chose to go that route – they generally don’t look near as professional, and you are at a bigger risk of potential complications and health issues when your tattoo doesn’t heal up properly.
Don’t forget that this person is running (or working for) a legitimate business! There are costs that need to be covered – the receptionist who booked your appointment, rent of a quality tattoo studio, taxes, insurance, bills and, definitely not the least important of the list, the high costs in ensuring that the studio remains clean and sterile. A quality tattoo artist is going to take all necessary precautions at this stage, and it adds up – disposable needles, ink cups, ink, tubes, etc.
So, when you think about it, you are paying for them to design and create the actual artwork PLUS all the health considerations that go along with it… is that really something you’re willing to skimp on to save a buck? This is going to be with you for the rest of your life (unless you’re prepared for expensive, and I’ve heard painful, treatments to remove it down the road) …
2. Do you tip an artist?
The answer to this question is largely contingent on the situation in which you are getting inked in my opinion. If a tattoo artist is working in a tattoo salon, and therefore only getting a portion of the overall cost of the tattoo I will tip higher, making sure that more funds land in their pocket. If they own the tattoo salon and you are rolling with a set rate, I’ll tip on top of that. However, if I am negotiating a rate with someone where it is literally a conversation between the two of us regarding what we are both happy with on the final cost, I will increase the total to cover the cost of tipping and everything else. This also, like in any other tipping situation, depends on the service and quality of the final product. If they were extremely rude or did a poor job, I’m not going to shell my hard-earned money out to thank them for it! Play it by ear, see how your appointment goes, and if you are happy with the experience, a nice tip goes a long way to express your appreciation!
3. What’s the best time of year? (Swimming… uncovered?)
You may get a few different answers for this one depending on who you talk to, so I’m going to answer the question, and then explain why…
Sure, you want to sport your ink as soon as you can get it so that everyone can see, but let’s be honest, its less than attractive during the initial scabbing period anyway! During the early stages of the healing process, your tattoo is extremely susceptible to damage and infection… You should be keeping it out of direct sunlight whenever possible, as well as protecting it from situations in which it may come in contact with bacteria and harsh chemicals… think lakes, pools, camping, backyard living… it’s all just asking for trouble! You will spend more of your summer going out of your way to protect your new tattoo than you will be showing it off, so why bother? Instead, get your tattoo during the winter months. You’re already bundled up for warmth, so keeping it covered from the sun and safe is easy, and by the time summer rolls around it will be healed and ready to show off!
I know this isn’t always going to work out as planned – while I was a good girl and got my shoulder done during the winter, I not only had my wrist inked during the summer but also while I was up north in the Muskoka area camping… on a waterfront site… where I planned on swimming, canoeing, and kayaking for the week… Even those of us who know better will sometimes make it difficult for ourselves (I went as far as using plastic wrap and duct tape to seal off my wrist while boating in order to protect it… Much more of a hassle than it needed to be if I had just done it at a different time…).
4. Did you know what tattoo you wanted at the start of this process?
I am not one to walk in and choose a design off the wall, that has never been my style. I’m not knocking it, if that works for you then go for it! Personally, if something is going to be on my body for the rest of my life I want it to have some sort of meaning. I’m not saying that every tattoo I get has to have some long, elaborate story of how it came to be – but it has to be something that represents me or some aspect of my life in some way. I want something that I can look at over the coming decades and smile, happy to still have it. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to deciding exactly what I want, after all, I only have so much skin and I can’t change it afterward, so I tend to stew on what I want for weeks, sometimes months, tweaking and changing my idea before I act on it.
5. Where is the next place you would get a tattoo?
I have a few currently designed and ready to go, just waiting on the right time to go through with them. This includes a half sleeve, one on the top of my foot and a pelvic tattoo.
6. Was getting the actual tattoo painful?
I personally have a very high pain tolerance I have been told. When I was getting my last tattoo, my shoulder piece, I was laughing throughout most of the process. Why laughing? Because every time the tattoo reached my collarbone I could feel it vibrate across my chest and I thought that was hilarious. That being said, there were a couple areas that I do remember being more painful than others.
When I had my wrist done, the bottom of the dragonfly actually rests right on the pressure point on my wrist. The tattoo artist was good at his job and knew what to expect so as we drew close to that spot he actually placed his arm in my hand, pinning it down. This was a good thing, the second the needle hit that pressure point I jumped! The first and only time I have jumped getting a tattoo or piercing. I can honestly say if you have issues with pain, or are concerned about avoiding painful spots, move any wrist work up above the pressure point to avoid that specific spot!
I don’t remember my back being painful at all, however, it has been quite awhile since I had that one done so there is the chance that I am forgetting part of the experience by this point. I do remember the weird feeling in the spine, almost like the needle vibrated down the length of my spine each time it hit, but that was more like the hilarious feeling I described above than anything, not really a pain consideration.
My most recent piece, my shoulder piece, had a couple spots that stood out. There is one little line coming off the background near the tiger’s foot that circles into the edge of my armpit. That has to be, hands down, the most pain I have ever felt from a tattoo. It was just a line going into the armpit area, so I can imagine if you continued to do more work in that area! There was also a spot further up my shoulder, at the base of my neck that was more painful but I’m not sure whether it was legitimately painful because of the location, or because it was the final touches of a 4 ½ hour tattoo and I was coming off the tattoo high of adrenaline and endorphins. Regardless, I do remember it hurting more than the rest of the piece…
That being said, there is a group of people who legitimately LIKE the feeling of being tattooed and the high that they get from the body’s reaction to it. I will fully admit that I am one of them!
7. Most/least painful places to have inked?
Rather than trying to look up and list all of this information, because I honestly don’t have enough tattoos to go about listing them myself, I instead found a great graphic posted by Inked Magazine. Using a colour spectrum, you can see here what the different areas of your body will rank as far as the pain scale…
8. Any advice for someone thinking about getting one?
The biggest thing I will say is to take the time to do your research. There are so many horror stories out there about how this can go badly, from tattoo salons from hell through to people who just massively regret their decision to get a specific tattoo regardless of the quality. If you are new to the whole experience and questioning your choice at all, don’t push yourself to rush in. Instead, take the time to do some reading, browse tattoos on Pinterest, ask questions of your potential artist(s) and ask questions of your tattooed friends. I don’t know anyone with a tattoo that wouldn’t entertain an honest question from someone considering getting inked! Go at your pace, and allow yourself to be comfortable and enjoy the process. For some people, that may mean moving faster, for others that may take months from first debating to actually going through with it. This is a very individual and personal experience – don’t let anyone determine your pace for you.
9. What was your process for choosing an artist?
There are a number of important factors to consider when choosing your artist, from their own personal artistic expertise to the cleanliness of their workspace. One of the early posts that I did on this blog was called ‘8 Tips for Your First Tattoo Experience.’ In this post, I addressed a number of important things to consider regarding a tattoo artist from researching the options available and viewing their portfolios through to visiting the studio and what to look for. Rather than writing it all out here, I am going to direct you over to that post!
10. Do you have a length of time between deciding on a tattoo you want and actually getting the tattoo? In the sense of making sure you want the tattoo?
I don’t personally have a set length of time that I adhere to, however as I mentioned above I tend to over analyze and debate for weeks, even months, before settling on what I want to get done so I think I am just an over thinker by nature. The decision of whether or not to set a personal timeline is going to be a very personal choice. I think you need to stop and take a moment to consider your own personality at length. Are you known for jumping into things without fully considering the consequences of your actions? Do you often find yourself regretting decisions, or changing your mind frequently? If so, I would suggest that you set some sort of personal rule, holding yourself to a timeline before pulling the trigger on any permanent decisions like tattoos. If instead, you are more of a perfectionist like me then it’s likely not necessary as by the time you’re ready to pull the trigger you’ve thought it over at great lengths making sure that it’s exactly what you want.
11. What’s the story behind your favourite tattoo?
My favourite tattoo always has been, and likely always will be, the one on my back. Less because of the tattoo itself (I actually want to talk with an artist about expanding upon it and making it into a larger piece, but not a cover-up because I want to keep the original image), but because of the meaning of the pieces. When I was in University my best friend and I went to get tattoos. I had been talking about getting this piece for a couple years, and she and I decided that it was time to go through with it. It is an ornate cross with a red rose wrapped around it. It’s looking a little aged in this photo, but it was 9 years ago that I had this done, and I just took the picture for all of you today. When I was 15 years old my father passed away. I placed a red rose in his casket and would go out of my way to go place a red rose on his grave sight to mark special holidays or events. When I moved away I couldn’t just go there to do so, which sparked the idea to have a red rose with me everywhere I went in memory of him. The significance of the red rose in my life has carried through since that point, with my husband and I including red roses as a theme for our engagement photos and at our wedding as another way for him to symbolically be there.
Do you have any tattoos? If so, what ink do you have? Have you learned anything from your experience? Are you currently planning any work? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!