1. Planning is Half of the Fun!!
I love the process where a tattoo goes from a fleeting thought, to a steady idea, to a concept doodle, to the artists rendition, to a fantastic piece of body art. I had the idea for my arrow floating around for months, and the process of taking it from an idea, to some silly doodles of what I thought it could be, to the finished article was so much fun! Take your time planning it, enjoy the process, make sure it's perfect. It's gonna be on you forever, remember...
2. Drinking Before or After is a Very Bad Idea!!
I know how many stories you hear about people getting a tattoo in Ibiza, after a night of drunken debauchery. I can't say "Nope" enough. Do not drink for 24hrs before or after a tattoo appointment. Drinking can thin your blood and it's just a bad idea all across the board! I cannot imagine how crap it is to get tattooed with a wine hangover, much less how crap it would be to get turned away with the smell of Heineken on you.
3. It Hurts, But You Knew That!
Tattoos hurt; They're not licked on by baby bunnies when you're asleep. The pain is something akin (at least to me) to sunburn being scraped by a cat. It's not excruciating. I find it cathartic, to be honest. It's a pain I can sit through for hours and hours on end, so it can't be that bad. I would personally choose getting tattooed over being pierced any day!
4. You Don't Have to Have a Reason.
Shows like Miami Ink and Ink Wars always go on about having some deep meaning behind your tattoos. That's great if you do, or you have reasons behind the colours in a piece. However, you don't have to. Sometimes people just get tattoos because they like the way they look. I try to have a meaning for each of my pieces, but it's not necessary. And if people ask you about the meanings? You don't have to tell them. I don't mind telling people about the big piece I have on my leg in passing, but I don't want to have to get into the heavy meanings.
5. Like It or Not, You're Gonna Be Judged
I work in a customer facing job, and 90% of the time I have my sleeves rolled up. I forget that I'm tattooed until someone brings attention to my colourful forearm. It honestly never occurs to me that other people notice them. Sometimes though, people do notice - and they're not always nice. Mostly I get compliments or nice questions but you must be prepared for the "Oh you've ruined yourself!!", "Why do you have those things? They're so awful looking" etc, etc. Those people are out there and they will make their presence known.