It doesn’t matter how old you are or where you come from; getting your first tattoo is and always will be a rite of passage. From teenagers to seniors and everyone in between, the experience of your first tattoo can shape how you feel about any future body modifications. But instead of flying by the seat of your pants, take into account a few important pieces:

-Choosing Your Design-

It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that most first-timers to the tattooed world will end up disliking or regretting their first tattoo design. This is generally because the choice was made quickly or without a decent amount of thought to the permanency of the tattoo.

This should not be shocking news, but TATTOOS ARE PERMANENT. Unless you choose to have expensive and painful laser removal surgery, what you choose to have inked into your skin will be there for the rest of your life. This is why design choice is so important—do you really want to be 70 years old, staring down at the misshapen butterfly flying over a moon on your replaced hip?

The design you choose should not only mean something to you now but should be something that will carry meaning with it as you age. That band you are so in love with now may not be a band you love in twenty (or even five or ten) years.

-Design Placement-

Now that you’ve chosen your design, you need to decide where you want to put it. Most of the time this choice is made hand in hand with the design choice, but anatomy is important when choosing your placement.

For example, a lot of women were getting their belly buttons tattooed in the early and mid-1990s. This led to a lot of dolphins becoming whales when those same women got pregnant ten years later. Skin can and will stretch, whether there is a tattoo there or not.

You want your tattoo to flow well with your body, and a reputable artist can help with this. Different areas of the body are better or worse for tattoos as well; an area with a lot of stretchmarks or sag will be more difficult to tattoo (and, therefore, possibly leave you with a poor piece of art) than say, an area with a smoother surface.

-The Night Before-

Not much thought is given to the night before a new tattoo, except for a bundle of nerves, perhaps. But did you know that what you eat and drink the night before getting tattooed can have a profound effect on your experience?

Tattooing will cause trauma to your body; in order to promote fast and efficient healing it is important to come to the session prepared physically. This means eating healthy and drinking plenty of water (avoiding things heavy in sodium and other sugary or processed foods as they can cause inflammation/swelling). Also reducing or completely removing alcohol from your diet the day and night before—alcohol thins the blood and will increase bleeding during the process.


In the end, you are about to embark on one of the most exciting rites of passage in life. Getting your first tattoo is an experience, and with the proper preparation and a great artist, you will end up with a piece of art on your body to last a lifetime!