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Frequently Asked Questions About Getting a Tattoo

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Are Tattoos Safe? Yes, as long as you go to a reputable artist that is following all recommended safety precautions. Find out what these recommendations are by going through the Safety Checklist.

What should I expect when I go to get my tattoo? I've got it all laid out for you, step by step, with photos at The Tattoo Process.

Does it hurt? Pain is really relative. Everyone has a different tolerance to pain. I'm not going to kid you, though - it does hurt. Just not that much. Some have compared it to a "hot scratching feeling". But, people would not be returning again and again for tattoo after tattoo if it hurt that bad! Most of us are not into pain, but the beauty of the tattoo and the pride associated with wearing it far outweighs a little pin-stick here and there. For more information and how to deal with your fears, read How Much Does It Really Hurt?

Can I use some kind of numbing cream? These kinds of products are really not recommended. Find out why by reading No Pain, No Gain.

How much is it going to cost? When it comes to tattoos, you get what you pay for. Yes, there are plenty of people tattooing out there that will ink you cheap, and you'll be crying to a real artist to have it covered up. Look for quality, and be willing to pay for it. NEVER haggle over the price of a tattoo. It is disrespectful to the artist. If you can't pay for quality, don't bother. This is not a bargain bin. It is a piece of art you will wear for life.

Should I tip my tattoo artist? Tipping is a really nice gesture! But, there are no real solid ground rules for tipping, so follow the suggestions at To Tip or Not To Tip

What should I get? And where? This is all a matter of personal taste. You can get whatever you want, and whatever your artist is willing to do. You can choose a picture off the wall, or you can have them create a custom piece just for you. Your only limit is your own imagination. As far as where you should get it goes, just keep in mind what you do for work and the type of social circles you are in. You might want to consider placing your tattoo where it can be easily covered up with normal clothing.

What is the best time of year to get a tattoo? Although you can get a tattoo any time of the year, your skin gets a lot more abuse during the summer with swimming, tanning and just being exposed to the elements more. Winter time is really the best season to get a tattoo. For more details, see 'Tis the Season to be Tattooed.

Is it OK to get a tattoo if I'm sick? Getting a tattoo when your immune system isn't at 100% isn't a good idea. You're going to need your strength and your white blood cells to heal your tattoo, something your body won't be able to do if it's already doing battle against virus and bacteria. Not to mention the fact that it's very inconsiderate to bring your illness into the tattoo studio and risk passing the germs onto others, particularly your artist. If you have an appointment, call and reschedule for when you're feeling well again.

Where can I find pictures of (skull, teddy bear, lion, etc.) tattoos? If you're getting a tattoo, especially as an expression of your individuality, why would you want a tattoo just like someone else's? Instead, find other pictures of what you're looking for and have your artist draw up a custom design for you. Example: If you are wanting a tattoo of a penguin standing on a glacier, find real photos of penguins and glaciers. If you want a tattoo of a blue rose wrapped around a cross, find pictures of real roses and crosses that you like. If the pictures don't show exactly what you want, just take them to your artist to use them as guidelines and tell them what changes you want made to the original pictures. A real artist will welcome the challenge of a custom piece.

Is it OK to lay out in the sun or go to the tanning bed when you have tattoos? It might be really tempting to get some rays during the summer months, but before you ruin your tattoo, please read this article about Tattoos and Tanning.

I just got a new tattoo on my leg - can I shave? Before you pull out the razor blade, please read this article, When is it Safe to Shave Again?

My friend just bought a tattoo kit and wants to practice on me. Should I let them? NO! Your friend could be putting both of your lives in danger by foolishly trying to learn this at home. Tell them they need to get a proper apprenticeship, and they can start practicing on you when their mentor (master) feels they are ready. If they don't know how to get an apprenticeship, read Apprenticeship: On the Hunt!

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