Got ink? Be careful in choosing what, where for your next tattoo

by Lindsay Taylor

In a recent issue of the Des Moines City View, Skin Kitchen was voted best place for tattoos and body piercing. Seeing as how I find that incredibly relevant (I do go there and six of my tattoos were done by one of their artists), I decided to lecture on the importance of doing research before permanently marking up your body.

Tattoos are permanent. Yes they can be removed but hey, it hurts more than the tattoo did and it costs a heck of a lot more, not to mention that a two by two-inch tattoo takes up to seven sessions to remove and not many people get tattoos that small these days.

The first step is to decide if a tattoo is right for you. Consider the permanency. This will be there forever. Do not consider a design just yet. Just decide if you can handle one thing being on your body for the rest of your life. This will always be there.

Okay. You’ve decided to get a tattoo. Next is the design. How do you decide what to get?

Consider everything about the design. The color scheme and size. I recommend collecting various designs and hanging on to them for a while. Look at an artists’ flash collection. Look in tattoo magazines. Look everywhere. One of mine came off a t-shirt and another was a sticker. If you find a design you like, hang it somewhere you can see it everyday. Wait a while. If you eventually can’t stand to look at it, don’t get it tattooed on your body.

Where are you going to put it? This decision is not an easy one. You have to consider what the tattoo is and the size. Yes, a person can get any tattoo anywhere he wants to. But sometimes that looks awkward and eventually you may not like it.

The main factor to consider is the pain. Tattoos hurt. Depending on where you put them, they can hurt even more. The chest hurts like heck. There is not a lot of flesh to soften the blow. The back doesn’t hurt as much, but if the tattoo is going over the spinal cord, you can feel mystery pains all over your body. The needle hits nerve endings that affect various parts of your body.

The stomach can be a pretty fleshy place, but I would not recommend getting a tattoo there. There is no bone behind the flesh and there are a lot of nerves.

Another common place is the ankle. It does not hurt too bad, but there is not a lot of room to work with.

The final decision is where to go to get the tattoo. The key to this is doing your research. If you see a piece of work that you like, ask the person where the person got it and who did it. Don’t feel shy or embarrassed about asking questions. The person is probably used to the questions about their tattoo. If you can see it, it is because the person wants it to be seen.

Visit tattoo parlors. Most artists have a book of work they have done. Check out their work. Ask questions. Tell them what you want. Ask how they feel about it. If the artist does not like it, go somewhere else. If you are not comfortable with the artist, you will not be comfortable having them dig a needle in you flesh.

After you have picked a tattoo and decided to go ahead with the artist you have chosen there is another important decision. When do you get this tattoo? Take into consideration that you will be sore for a few days. You can’t expose it to the sun and you will want to keep it covered.

Now that you have your own piece of art, you need to take care of it. The best thing you can do is exactly what the tattoo artist told you to do. Most often they tell you to apply bag balm for the first few days and then switch to a lotion that is fragrance free. Keep putting lotion on it for a few months and use sunscreen. You just tortured the crap out of your skin and went through a lot of pain to do it. Take care of it.