How to Plan Out Your Next Tattoo

How to Plan Out Your Next Tattoo

Tattoos are immensely popular today. It seems like just about everyone has one, has one planned, or is currently thinking about getting one. However, there are several things you want to keep in mind when you’re planning your next or first tattoo. We’ll make sure you know exactly what you’re doing to help you get the tattoo you’ve dreamed of.

The Tattoo Planning Process

The tattoo planning process may not be insanely complex but it does require work on your part. You want to walk into a tattoo shop ready for your consultation. These next steps can help.

Know Why You’re Getting Your Tattoo

  • Yes, tattoos can look pretty but why do you want one? Not every tattoo needs to have a deeply personal or relevant meaning, and some people DO get them just because they look pretty. However, the relative permanency of the tattoo combined with the cost involved means that you want to be sure why you’re getting a tattoo. Don’t get one just because everyone else has it.

Be Prepared to Get What You Pay For

  • You don’t want a cheap looking tattoo, and in the tattoo world, you really do get what you pay for. Ask your artist how the shop charges. Do they have a fixed cost or do they charge by the hour? Can they give you an estimate of your tattoo? You’ll also usually pay more for color than black and white or grayscale pieces, and larger pieces usually require more than one sitting. Your artist will usually be able to give you an estimate range upfront.

Know Your Placement and Pain Threshold

  • How tolerant you are of pain and your profession typically play large roles in your tattoo’s placement. While everyone is different, bonier parts of your body are usually more painful to tattoo. Also, keep your profession in mind. Do they have dress code rules against visible tattoos or do you want it in a visible spot?


  • Don’t rely on your artist to spellcheck for you, even though most do. Double check your tattoo’s spellings and accuracy as well as any dates you want on your tattoo. You want to write this down for your artist and double check the final stencil for accuracy.

Research a Reputable Shop

  • Do in-depth research of the shops around your area, and this includes the artists. You want to feel comfortable and safe during your tattoo. Also, understanding the shop’s safety and health protocols is essential. Ask tattooed friends for recommendations if you’re not sure. If it’s possible, visit the shop and look around. You want to see a clean shop, artists wearing gloves, and sterile equipment. Most tattoo shop owners are in the shop and are happy to answer any questions you may have.

Talk to the Artists and Compare Their Styles

  • Different artists have completely different styles. You want to match your artist to your wants and needs. Ask to see portfolios or examples of their work and ask questions. If you have a vague idea of what you want for your tattoo, talk about it with the artist. They want you to be comfortable and confident in your choice and they want you to be totally satisfied with the finished work so don’t be afraid to discuss your expectations with them.

Book Your Appointment

  • Once you find an artist and shop that you feel comfortable with, you can book your appointment. Many artists want to see examples of what you want or references so they can make a few sketches for you and get a good idea of what you want. You do want to choose a few elements and avoid going back and forth on what you want when you talk to your artist. This can send a message that you’re not sure about what you want from your tattoo.

The Day Before and Day of the Appointment

Skin Preparation

  • You want to avoid irritating your skin prior to your tattoo appointment. Don’t exfoliate the area, and don’t wax the area for at least seven days before the appointment. Also, keep the area out of the sun and make sure to moisturize it. The last thing you want is to try and get a tattoo on sunburned skin, and many artists will insist that you reschedule.

Be Sober

  • This one seems like common sense but many people come to tattoo appointments not totally sober. This isn’t a good thing. Most artists won’t tattoo someone unless they’re confident that the person they’re tattooing is completely free of alcohol and drugs. Alcohol can also make you bleed more when you get a tattoo, and this can wash your ink out.

Double Check the Design and Placement

  • Your artist will bring you their sketch or sketches and you pick the one that matches what you had in mind. Don’t be afraid to ask for changes. Also, this is where you double check for accuracy. You should be totally satisfied with the sketch and placement before the tattooing process begins.

Wear Comfortable Clothing

  • Depending on where you want to get your tattoo, make sure that you wear comfortable clothing that you can easily remove for the tattooing session. You want it to be loose fitting because it’ll cover your tattoo at the end of the appointment and the area will be tender. For example, if you have a back piece, consider wearing a zip-up sweater backward or a loose tank top that you can lift up while you get the tattoo.

Bring Support or Pain Management Tools

  • While you most likely don’t want a huge crowd watching you getting your tattoo, many people find it helpful to bring a friend or two along for moral support. Also, some shops use numbing spray to help ease you into your tattooing experience. They wear off quickly but it can ease the initial shock. Don’t take blood-thinning medications or pain medications before your tattoo.

Take Breaks

  • If you have a larger piece, or if you simply need a break, tell your artist. They can stop tattooing for a few minutes to give you a break. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout the process if you have them.

Take Care of Your Tattoo

  • Getting a tattoo is only half of the process. It’s essential that you take great care of your tattoo after you get it, and be aware that it takes up to two months to fully heal. You’ll have to wash it daily and keep it as clean as possible to ensure that it heals properly and looks as good as it possibly can at the end of the healing process.

When you get a tattoo, touch base with your artist as it heals to let them know how it’s going. This is also where you can ask questions if you’re concerned about the scabbing or peeling process, and you’ll be able to set up additional appointments if you need more than one sitting to finish the tattoo. You’re now ready to enjoy your new tattoo or set up your tattoo appointment with confidence.


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