Getting Inked? Here's What You Should Remember Before Your First Tattoo

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I can still remember the time I had my first tattoo like it was yesterday. I decided to have my zodiac sign, a small Libra symbol, inked on my back by The Wuds bassist and then PHILTAG (Philippine Tattoo Artist Guild Inc.) president Alfred Guevarra. I remember being so afraid to tell my mother about it who was, at that time, against me having a tattoo but eventually, I got over my fear and showed it to her. It took her a while to get used to me having one, let alone more, but she grew accustomed to it. Whenever I arrive home with a wrap on a part of my body, it’s not because I got into an accident. It’s because I got new ink...again.

I currently have fifteen tattoos all over my body.

Do I want more? I think so.

Libra tattoo by Alfred Guevarra and Indian textile pattern by Ricky Sta. Ana from Skinworkz

I’m not addicted to it, but it’s somehow been something that I don’t consume my time thinking of. Whenever I get the “itch” to have a new ink done, I contact my go-to tattoo artist and book a schedule. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t think so much of it too, especially if you’re having one done for the very first time. Remember, it’s permanent art that you’re having someone put on you, so here are a few things that you should consider before having your very first tattoo.

The Design

I had my reasons why my first tattoo was a Libra symbol. Aside from it being my zodiac sign, I embody the characteristics of being a Libra so much that I wanted the symbol etched on me. It was also a perfect figure to be placed where I want it on my body, which was below my nape. Find a design that you know that you can live with because you’ll be seeing it every day on yourself. You’ll have your reasons for your design, but make sure that you won’t regret having those whys and wherefores after a day or two. Should you decide to have a language, text, or symbol that you’re not a 100% familiar with, do your research and verify that these are correct. I also suggest to get a small ink first to prime you for bigger ones soon.

Tattoo by Dyun Depasupil

The Tattoo Artist

We have a lot of talented tattoo artists here in the Philippines that I know can work on your first tattoo impeccably. Don’t be afraid to ask around about them; check out their works online via their website or Instagram feed. Also, it’s not bad to ask how much they charge so you can prepare your money or assess how much time you need to give yourself to save up for it. I will suggest a few local tattoo artists and show you their style specialties below.

Starfish ink by Mia Claravall-Reyes from Chronic Tattoo

Consider the Placement

Having a tattoo is painful, I’m not going to sugarcoat that. If you have a low tolerance in pain, I suggest that you don’t consider having it on your feet, hand, palm, back of your upper arm, and waist. The thinner the skin and closer to the bone, the sensation of discomfort is more intense. Try having it on your shoulder, outer thigh, or upper/lower back since these places have thicker skin and fewer nerve endings so it’s less painful. Even though having a tattoo is more acceptable today as compared in the past, unfortunately some companies and establishments still use them as basis for employment. If you’re concerned about this, find an area in your body that can easily be unseen underneath your clothing during office hours.  

Rest, Hydrate, and Eat

Make sure you get plenty of rest and drink lots of water the day before your tattoo session because you will be on that chair for hours. Also, eat a good meal before you head on to the studio. Do not drink alcohol the night before since it will make your blood thinner that might cause excessive bleeding during the tattooing process. And who wants to get a tattoo while hungover, anyway? You have to be present: sound, body, and mind, while having your session.  

Tattoo by Wiji Lacsamana

Aftercare is Essential

Make sure that you listen to your tattoo artist regarding aftercare. Usually they give out printed aftercare guidelines or ask them for it. It’s very important that you take good care of your new ink by sanitizing it. Remember, it’s an open wound so it needs to be washed to prevent infection. Avoid being under the sun because the UV rays can cause rashes and it will fade the ink.

Below are a few local tattoo artists (and their works) that I recommend you check out. Good luck, and enjoy having your new ink!

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