Friday, October 5, 2012

My Tattoo Guide! A How-To For Your Appointment

I have wanted to do a post like this for a while but I keep putting it off.  However, now that I am getting tattooed after four years of waiting (October 16th), I find myself inspired!
 This post is a guide that features tips and suggestions for getting tattooed.  Whether you are "taking the plunge" and getting tattooed for the first time or if you are getting a new piece (and several years have past), this post is for you!

After you deciding on a design and researching which artist you want to do your work, you are probably thinking about the tattoo itself (especially if it's your first session!).  Is it going to hurt?  How much is it going to cost?  Can I take a painkiller beforehand? Well, y'all, read on and get informed! Trust me, the more knowledge you have before your appointment, the better the experience will be!

1. 72 hours before your appointment, refrain from alcohol and drink lots of water.  Hydration is very important!  Alcohol thins the blood which can affect your tattoo session and your healing time!

2. If you are getting tattooed in an area you normally shave (legs), do not pre-shave the area before your tattoo!  Your artist will shave the area just before they apply your tattoo transfer.  Shaving beforehand can cause razor burn and this can affect your tattoo and its healing!

 3. Try to reduce if not eliminate caffeine on the day you tattoo.  If you are nervous (like me), the caffeine may make your nerves worse!  Drink plenty of water and maybe herbal, caffeine-free tea.

4. For your tattoo, wear comfortable and loose clothing.  Do not wear anything that can restrict your movement and/or affect your comfort (especially if you are sitting for a long period of time).  Be sure to wear clothing that can be washed.  You are more than likely going to be stained by inks, a small amount of blood plasma, and the ointment the artist uses during and after the tattoo itself.

5. Do not take any painkillers before your tattoo.  Most pain medication contain blood-thinners and like alcohol, this can cause your tattoo to heal poorly.  Some artists suggest only Ibuprofen-based medications (taken and hour before tattoo begins).  However, it is best to ask your artist!

6. Before your tattoo, eat a proper meal with a light protein and complex starch.  Drink plenty of clear fluids.  If you do not eat well, your blood sugar will drop and you can pass out or feel faint during your tattoo!  Sometimes, people can even get sick.  Not good!  So, please prepare your body and eat!

7. Bring a light, portable snack and a drink to the tattoo session.  Most artists allow for this and even encourage clients to do so.  An ideal snack can be: granola bar with water, trail mix with gatorade, protein bar with ginger ale, and so on. Just stay away from junk food and simple sugar! Organic-based, protein-rich food with complex starches helps maintain blood sugar levels.  In the past, I had a Glucerna bar with a Vitamin Water. Glucerna is for diabetics.  The bars taste good and help keep glucose level!

8. Be sure to bring a valid photo ID and your form of payment.  Also bring cash for tips!  In many states, like Colorado, the artist is required to make a photo-copy of your ID before any tattoo work can begin.  Tipping your artist is always important!  It shows appreciation for their work and time.  If a tattoo is $200.00, I tip the artist at least $40.00.

 9. If you are worried about the pain level, then you can do a few things before your tattoo begins. Bring a friend to keep you company and keep you distracted. Also, you can bring an iPod or MP3 player if you are alone and/or prefer music. More often than not, your artist can be a great help to stay focused and give support! I have had many amazing conversations during my tattoo sessions!

10. Speaking of discomfort, tattoos hurt. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise! If this is your first tattoo, do not worry. You can do it! Certain areas of the body like the inner wrists, inside of the biceps, the ribcage, knuckles, underarms, ankles, and the tops of the feet are usually the most tender areas but with some deep breathing, good hydration, and a proper, balanced meal beforehand, you will make the process more tolerable. The pain varies from a mild bee-sting sensation to an intense sensation. I had my inner wrist and both ankles tattooed and it was not fun but I made it!

11. When your tattoo is complete, your artist will coat in ointment and wrap it in a plastic-based bandage. Be sure to follow your artist's after-care instructions to the letter! You will be healing for two-three weeks and during this time it is VITAL that your care properly for your new tattoo. As you care for your tattoo, you may get impatient and feel like getting lazy with after-care! Don't! Think of it this way: two weeks of good after-care equals a lifetime of beauty!

12. Enjoy your new skin art and always keep it covered in a good sunscreen (once you are fully healed)!
If you have any questions or if you think I forgot something, let me know!


  1. Good list, and I 100% agree with you, but I have to laugh because my husband always brings a 6 pack of beer for him and his artist to split! Luckily he has a very talented artist and they have sat together for over 40 hours on my husbands sleeve, so it's not like he just walked in off the street, but still.

    I try to be a little healthier about things, since I didn't know any of what you discussed above when I first got tattooed. I was 18, hungover, and hadn't eaten before the appointment. Guess what happened? I passed out in the middle of the tattoo! Needless to say, I did not exactly feel like a bad-ass afterwards... Over the past 10 years I've gotten much better about all that.

    1. Good to hear from you! I hope all is well and I hope you are enjoying being a momma!

      That is funny about your husband and the artist splitting a six-pack! That is great they have such a good repoire!

      The second tattoo I had done in 2000 was a hot mess. The artist was great but I, however, was not prepared! I did not eat well enough and I held my breath a few times and I, too, almost passed out! I was so embarrassed! The artist was cool about it but I felt like suck a weenie!

      I go for my new piece in 4 days! I am getting nervous! I know I will be fine once I am there but I keep thinking about it!

  2. I'm not sure if that picture is recent, but the blonde hair looks super cute! :D I can't wait until I'm out of college and can actually afford some more tattoos.

  3. I think the tattoo experience depends a lot on a person's threshold of pain. I have 18, and I never took anything to alleviate pain before getting one. The tattoo artists at the shop always teased me because I would sit back, relax and go to sleep during every single session. The first time it happened, they were all standing around laughing when they woke me up. I always found the burning sensation afterward more annoying...kinda like being splattered with hot grease...but then the nurses teased me when I had my daughter and told me I never even said "Ouch." Insane, I know, but I guess all our bodies are different.

    I hope you love your new piece and had fun getting it.

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  5. Hi Tara, I couldn't find another way to contact you so I figured this would be the most appropriate avenue... My name is Jake, I was a friend and client of Kauri Tiyme years ago when she started my first tattoo, a foot tall Willow tree on my side/ribs. I had moved to California in 2006 and when I moved back to Colorado early in 2009 I Heard the devistating news that we lost one of the best artists and most incredible people this world will ever see. It's been years and I think i'm finally ready to start a journey of finding someone worthy to finish the Willow tree outline she began from her pure creativity. When people ask me about it i get to share her story but am left with the internal dilemma of weather it would be right to let anyone else touch it, and hope that if "someday the right person happens to cross my path then I'll know it's meant to be" but I'm realizing that it's my job to make sure that i seek the path that honors her memory best. I re-read the article in Denver Westword News and a google image search, both directed me towards reaching out to you. I'm looking for any information on other artists that have been close to Kauri and have been finishing/working on unfinished pieces? It's important to me that anyone who touches her work has had some sort of connection or relationship with her. I figure it's a shot in the dark but any information you might have regarding my quest would greatly be appreciated! Thank you, take care, and best of luck in all your endeavors!
    my email is

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