Here’s What Tattoo Artists Really Want You To Stop Doing

Although there is evidence that humans have been performing tattoo work on skin as far back as about 2000 B.C., according to Smithsonian Magazine, they didn’t become popular in the United States until the Civil War. That’s when, as TIME noted, that the modern tattoo was born. The country’s first professional tattoo artist, Martin Hildebrandt, opened a tattoo shop in New York City to tattoo soldiers in order to identify them.

As of 2019, 30% of Americans had at least one tattoo, up 9% since 2012, according to an Ipsos poll. In addition, 33% of Americans had two tattoos at the time of the survey, showing how their popularity has risen even over the last decade. In fact, the Ipsos poll found that 92% of Americans were happy with their tattoos.

Getting a tattoo can be a nerve-wracking and exhilarating experience, and it takes a lot of consideration, but professional tattoo artists want to make sure their clients stop doing things that cause complications when getting inked.

Here's what to do and not do when getting your tattoo

Be ready for your tattoo and be present while you are there. The first thing you need to do is arrive for your tattoo on time out of respect for your artist, and certainly don’t arrive with a pack for friends that can cause distractions. Also, and this goes without saying, but tattoo artists also want you to remember to breathe while getting your tattoo (via Insider).

“During the tattoo process, sometimes clients hold their breath in hopes to not move. This is not good! We need our clients to continue breathing as normal,” artist Beatrice Kern said. “Holding your breath will lead to you passing out.” No one wants that. 

You should also remember to stay still and pay attention to the what is happening to your body. Tattoo artist Cuda Vendetta said that the trick is to stay still and focused during the work. “Stop checking your phone and if you have a friend with you, don’t talk with your hands,” Vendetta said. 

Finally, never get a tattoo while you’re drunk. Your artist might not appreciate your drunk attitude, and as noted by Bustle, you might bleed more than a sober person during the process as alcohol works as a blood thinner.

Be careful with your tattoo design decisions

Tattoo artists are professionals and understand how tattoos age over time, that’s why they advise you not to get something too complicated that will have small lettering that you won’t be able to read years later. Furthermore, choose a tattoo you know you will love and don’t take a friend’s advice. A tattoo is supposed to be for life, so it’s your choice and not someone else’s (via Insider).

If you see a specific tattoo you love on someone, find out who did it and go to that artist, as it avoids stealing another person’s work. “If there’s a tattoo you love, you should get tattooed by the artist who did the tattoo, out of respect for what they do for a living,” Chicago-based tattoo artist Max Brown told Insider. “We can reference subject matter you like, but if you don’t like our style, please go to an artist you like. Everyone wins.”

Taking care of your tattoo is extremely important

Your tattoo artist did the work and you love the results. Now they want you to do your part by taking care of your tattoo the right way when you leave their shop. One way to do that is to go home and rest. The body goes through quite a lot when getting tattooed, so it’s important to take a breather. 

“A tattoo is an invasive cosmetic procedure, and your immune and lymphatic system will be working hard on healing a fresh tattoo, so partying and anything excessive is not recommended,” artist Anka Lavriv told Byrdie. 

Also, if you’re getting a tattoo during the warmer weather, do not make beach plans soon after for your own health and safety. “Give yourself a good two weeks for healing before dipping it in public water, which contains a veritable surprise party of bacteria,” Max Brown told Insider. “After your pool or beach session, make sure you dry your work off well so it doesn’t fester in that bacteria.”

Finally, don’t forget to tip your tattoo artist and show your appreciation for their hard work. Give the artists about 15 to 20% of the cost of the tattoo, as you would do for a server in a restaurant (via Insider).

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