Five tips on getting your first tattoo

A tattoo by Mo Naga
A tattoo by Mo Naga

Getting the first tattoo of your life not only makes you feel overwhelmed but also a bit panicky. While one hand a tattoo can be a beautiful reflection of you, and on the other it can turn into a hideous and embarrassing mistake that you might have to regret for the rest of your life.

A tattoo is a decision you will live with forever, so learning some tips for your first tattoo is definitely something you need to do before you get the needle running!

Research and selecting a design:

Do your research and choose your designs carefully and take ample time to decide. Remember- Unlike your clothes and other accessories, tattoos are permanent. Unless you go for the extremely expensive laser technique for tattoo removal, you will have to carry your tattoo to your grave. A tattoo tells your story, what kind of person you are, your beliefs, your style etc. and it can build or break  your personality.

While choosing your design keep your lifestyle and profession in consideration too. For example, you may be a music fan but if you work in a corporate office and attend formal meetings, you should avoid getting tattooed on the easily visible body parts like the neck, hand etc.  This is because studies show that such a person with visible tattoos is less likely to be taken seriously for demanding jobs. Unless you are a rock star, a chief, artist etc., get tattooed on body parts like the bicep, chest etc. which you can hide and show at the right place.

Research the artist and inspect the studio:

These days every tattoo artist has a Facebook page or a website to showcase their skills. Before choosing your nearest tattoo artist/studio you must do your research on his style, skills and approach of tattooing. If you find an artist you can trust, but his studio is not the closest one, don’t hesitate to spend that extra money and time to go to him because tattoos are permanent and you don’t want to take chances and compromise on your health, art and your skin. People travel across countries to get tattooed by their favourite artist/studio for the very reason.


It is important to crosscheck their work on their pages and websites because some artists are fake and will upload other’s work shamelessly to lure potential clients. Therefore it becomes very important to do a study on all the local artists before deciding on the one. Interact with them over the phone or mail, this will give you a clearer picture of what you can expect from them. The artist’s skills and reputation is not enough, it is very important to have a connection, good vibe between the artist and the client. Who wants to carry the art of a disrespectful artist? The tattoo will only remind you of him and the unpleasantness of the whole tattooing process – everyday for the rest of your life!

Once the artist has been chosen visit the studio personally to book an appointment. Visit it and make sure that the studio is clean and hygienic. Do not hesitate to share your ideas and clear all your doubts before fixing the appointment. Talk to the artist. Remember that the tattoo art on a body is a combined effort of both the client and the artist. Both get equal credit, whether the result is good and bad.

You choose the artist for his skills and other qualities, you choose him because you have faith in him, so listen to him and be open to ideas and suggestions. A true artist will always try to do something new to suit your taste and style. He understands that every tattoo is unique just like every individual is. Stay away from tattooist who is not open to suggestions and ideas.

  Needles, inks and hygiene :

Your designs have been finalized and your appointment has been fixed. Now, it is time to get inked. In the studio see that:

1.        the new packaged needles are opened in front of you, they are one time use only and check the expiry date

A tattoo by Mo Naga
A tattoo by Mo Naga

2.       the plastic needle tips and grips are new like the needle ( again one time use only ), if they are made of steel make sure that they are sterilised

3.       check that the inks have not expired

4.       the artist must always use a new disposable glove in every sessions

D.      After Care:

After you have got inked you will find your friends, neighbour, parents, and everyone advising you how to take care of your new tattoo. Some of them will have tattoo some will not, but do not listen to any of them. Just follow the instructions given to you by your artist. He created your tattoo and he knows best.

The job of the artist is done once you walk out of the studio with your finished tattoo. His responsibility ends inside the studio. Both you and the artist will benefit if the tattoo heals well.

If the tattoo gets infected or healed bad due to your negligence, the artist will be more pissed then you. It was his hard work and now his reputation is at stake because of the bad tattoo. The point here is that, the tattoo artist and you care the most for the tattoo to heal well. So listen to him, you have got only to gain from it.

Lady with Tattoos /pixabay
Lady with Tattoos /pixabay

Enjoy your tattoo:

After going through the entire struggle, last thing to do is to enjoy it, flaunt it! Be proud of your tattoo!

Do not compare with other tattoos; remember your tattoo is unique just like you. Just like an original denims every tattoo on skin are unique- all depends on how you took care of it. Do not expect your tattoo to be a replica of the printout on a paper or on the computer screen. The skin is a living organism; it heals differently for different people. Some skins are darker than others and some are thicker.

If your tattoo hasn’t gone horribly wrong, try to find beauty in that little imperfection and move on. Shapes may change a little and colours may fade a little with time, your tattoo will age with you beautifully. Express yourself and enjoy you!

By Founder, Headhunters’ Ink, Moranngam Khaling (Popularly known as Mo Naga)

The 28-year-old Mo Naga is the founder and artist of the Guwahati’s most popular professional tattoo studio and school–Headhunters’ Ink. A fashion designer from NIFT Hyderabd and a self taught tattoo artist, Manipur’s Mo has been on the forefront to uphold the dying tribal tattoo art from different regions of India.