Getting your First Tattoo
This is a subject that has gotten brought up a few times after telling people about SD-too.com. They see that we feature artists but they also say that someone who finds the site for the first time may have questions about getting their first piece. So, based on my own experiences and similar stories of friends of mine, this is my advice to anyone that is looking to get their first tattoo.
First, some clarification. SD-too.com is dedicated to its artists and looks to feature some of the best, cutting edge artist in the San Diego scene. That being said, if you are looking for an artist for a small heart on your wrist, a cute little butterfly on your ankle, or a barbed-wire arm band, this is probably not the site for you. For as cute as those tattoos may be, any shop on the street can help you with something like that. SD-too.com is for people who are serious and take the time to research and find an artist that fits their tastes and can help you realize your vision for your first tattoo. Remember, tattoos are forever and you will have to live with it - Forever. Take the time and research your artist, talk to them, share with them your ideas and sketches and get a vibe from them. If an artist is into what you are trying to create, you can tell. This is what they do for a living, they create art, and that is what this site is about. Featuring the art of the artists so you can find someone you feel comfortable with.
GET TO KNOW YOUR ARTIST - Getting tattooed is an experience. Your new tattoo should have some meaning to you and your artist should show an interest and make the experience as comfortable as possible. There are hundreds of artists in San Diego to choose from. Your choice of an artist should not be made on a whim, take the time to visit websites, view portfolios, listen to recommendations, and go meet an artist. Remember, you are not obligated to go with an artist if you go to their shop and you don't feel right about it. Say thanks, and say you're going to keep looking for artists. They won't take it personally, they may have a certain style and have many clients who like that style. Thats the thing about art. It is subjective and everybody's opinion of what is good and bad is different. Find an artist that you think is good. You're the one who has to live with the tattoo and be happy with it. So do you're homework.
YES, THEY HURT - Anyone you ask that say they got a tattoo and it didn't hurt is a liar or got a really bad tattoo. The skin is composed of only 3 layers: epidermis (the skin that you can touch and that flakes), the dermis and hypodermis. when you get a tattoo, the needle settles the ink right under the dermis (deep enough so that the ink will not flake) at a depth of about 1/8″! There are certain parts of the body that hurt more than others, ams and legs hurt, armpits and ankles really hurt. If you are new to tattooing, getting a huge pirate ship on your chest is probably not the best idea for a first piece. Start small and learn you your body reacts, pain tolerance, and amount of time you can tolerate the needles. Most artist have a harder time giving you a quality tattoo if you move around a lot, fidget, complain or take a lot of breaks. So learn your body, and what it can handle.
IT IS THERE FOREVER - actually, that is not true. Thanks to modern technology tattoo removal is possible, but from what I hear it is way worse to get them removed that applied. But there are plenty of websites out there to cover this subject, not here. Your tattoo should mean something, for me, if something is going to be with me for the rest of my life it should tell a story, not remind me of a drunken night in Mexico. Tattooing to me should tell the story of my life, remind me of where I was and what I was going through at the time. A physical timeline of experiences. So, tattooing may mean something different to you, and that's OK, it is different for everyone. You should consider this when getting inked, will I still be OK with this art 30 years down the road, or is this just something trendy I saw in a magazine. Trends change, your mind changes, keep that in mind before you emblazon Taz on your arm and think you're a bad ass.
APPRECIATE YOUR ARTIST - Tattoo artists do this for a living because it is what they love to do. They are trying to make a living just like the rest of us. Artist will always tell you a price before they start on a tattoo, or if it is going to take multiple sittings, they should give you a price per session. If you are budget shopping when looking for an artist please remember, you usually get what you pay for. Don't try to bargain with them, it is really not in your favor. Most artists are pretty honest about the time it will take and if they quote you a price and they take a little longer, they will usually stick to their quote. They want you to have the best tattoo they can give you. Remember, you are a walking billboard for their work. If you are happy with what your artist has done, give them a little extra. Also, check out some of the other work your artist has done, most shops have their walls adorned with a lot of art. Artist not only tattoo, they also draw, paint, sculpt. Take the time to appreciate some of this art.
SPREAD THE WORD - If you find an artist you like and they gave you a awesome piece, spread the word about them, tell your friends and help them out. Word of mouth advertising is one of the most powerful ways to help promote this form of artwork. Internet reviews and testimonials are a powerful tool, social networks play a big role in exposing the art and creativity of the artists.
SOCIAL BARRIERS - For as much as society has come in the acceptance of tattooing over the years, there is still a taboo associated with it from some of the older generations. Tattooing is a personal choice, and should be treated as that. Unfortunately there are a lot of bad stereotypes that come along with it, drug use, gang affiliation, etc… These are the barriers that SD-too.com is trying to help break down, by exposing the world to art of the artist and show the beauty in it and try to erase some of the negative aspects. So, if you are planning on getting something tattooed in a very visible location, be aware of some of the hurdles it may pose for you. Most people are open minded enough to look past it, but there are always situations, for as unfair as they are where you will be judged by your appearance. So, if you can look past the negative experiences and find the good in things, rock your ink proudly and show it off to the world.
So, hopefully this has been somewhat helpful for you in choosing the right piece and artist for your tattoo journey. Believe me, they are addictive! Finding a great artist is always a good excuse to go back and get another piece. Wheather you get one tattoo or if you are a collector, choose wisely, you will appreciate it the long run and people will respect you for the awesome art you have. Check out the rest of the site, we put a lot of time and effort into featuring some of San Diego's best artist. These guys love what they do and hopefully we can help you find the right one for you.
Questions or Comments? - Contact Us and let us know what you think.