• Chas

Getting A Great First Tattoo: Everything You Need to Know Before Your Appointment!

How to Get an Amazing First Tattoo

Getting your first tattoo is such an exhilarating feeling. There's excitement, nerves, and adrenaline and it absolutely is addicting.

There are some tips to making sure your first tattoo is not only clean and looks good, but is also a great experience to encourage you to get more, if you please.

I take my tattoo experiences very seriously. I scout out my artists for months. I check out all of their work, I look at any videos on social media to see them in action, etc. I take it very seriously. I mean, it's permanent!

So, since I have some experience in this area, I'd like to share my tips and information to help make you know all that you need to before getting your first tattoo... Let's do this!

first tattoo tips

tattoo ideas + design

First thing is first, it's important to have an idea of what you want your tattoo to be. Maybe you just want a butterfly but not sure what that looks like, or you have every detail of it in mind. Either way, it's always beneficial to have some examples or inspiration to send to your artist, whoever that may be.

Examples can include color, style, design, size, design elements, etc. Anything that is important. Pinterest is a great source for inspiration. Feel free to search things like "tattoo ideas for men, tattoo ideas for women, tattoo ideas, zodiac tattoos, small tattoos, feminine tattoos, etc. You catch my drift".

Once you have an idea of what you want, it's time to start searching for an artist.

finding a tattoo artist

You can easily just stop at the first tattoo shop you see and get your first tattoo done as a walk-in without researching your artist, but in my opinion, this is an experience worth taking your time with. Don't get me wrong, spontaneous tattoos are amazing, but so are the well thought out ones, especially if you are getting your first tattoo.

When looking for a tattoo artist, there are a few key points to consider:

  • location

  • consistency in their work

  • if the lines are clean! Clean lines are EVERYTHING.

  • what the shop looks like in terms of cleanliness

One of the biggest indicators of a good tattoo artist, in my meager opinion, is how their lines look. Are they wobbly? Do they vary in thickness? Are there blowouts? Etc. Clean lines are key.

Another tip, if the artist has some video footage of them in action on social media, take a peak! You can tell if they are heavy handed or not. If pain is something that you are nervous about, look for a light-handed artist when getting your first tattoo.

Beyond that, you want their style to resonate with you and what you are looking for. Each artist is different, so do a little searching, you'll find the right one.


My favorite tattoo shop, The Dolorosa in Studio City and Echo Park, has a saying in their shop that I love... "Good tattoos aren't cheap, cheap tattoos aren't good" and it's true. If you want a killer first tattoo, you need budget for it. Anticipate spending some money, honey! If you are looking for something small, then obviously it'll be less.

When you find your artist, you most likely will be asked for a deposit when booking an appointment. They will be able to give you a quote so you know how much you're looking at and you can plan accordingly.

Just remember, good tattoos aren't cheap.

Also, please tip your artist. It's not mandatory but it should be. This is their livelihood and their art. It is customary to tip 15-20%.

stay open minded

When it comes to tattoo placement or adjustments, be open minded. You artist does this for a living. Sometimes they may suggest altering the size, placement, or design to meet all of your desires. Stay open minded! They know what they're talking about.

Make sure you communicate the things that are important to you so you both are on the same page. Communication is key, this is not the time to bite your tongue and hold your thoughts and opinions. This is you first tattoo for crying out loud but stay courteous and know that they want you happy.

things to avoid before your tattoo appointment: alcohol + caffeine

It's important to not drink alcohol before your tattoo appointment... this is kinda the law to not tattoo someone under the influence. Just know your artist can choose to not tattoo you if they smell or feel like you have been drinking recently. That would be a complete bust for your first tattoo experience!

Also, avoid drinking caffeine the day of. Caffeine thins your blood which makes it hard to tattoo you! Also, caffeine can increase your jitters and adrenaline which we don't want.

shave the area

The night before you can shave the area but do so with caution! Be sure not to nick the skin, use lots of shaving cream and moisturize after. Your artist can also shave for you, most of the time, but it's not a bad idea to do it yourself unless they say otherwise.

eat a good meal before your tattoo appointment!

Something to know before getting your first tattoo...When you get a tattoo, depending on the size, duration, placement and your pain tolerance, your blood sugar levels go on a little bit of a rollercoaster ride. It's important to eat a proper meal beforehand to help keep you regulated, in addition to packing some snacks!

I pack things like peanut butter filled pretzels, sprite (for the sugar), candy, but also some high-carb and high-protein snacks too. I highly encourage you bring a friend to your tattoo appointment so they can run and grab food if you need. Then after, you can treat them to food as a thank you.

(Jeremiah, I'm sorry those girls thought I was your date, won't happen again 😂 ).

come prepared!

Depending on your tattoo size and design, you could be there for awhile. Pack some items to help you relax. Bring headphones, have a great playlist ready to go like this one or this one or even this one, have your phone charged, and wear something comfy! If you're sitting or laying down for 5 hours, you don't want to be in tight jeans or a restricting top.

Also, make sure you have more than one payment option if you are not sure how your artist receives payment! Bring some cards and cash! FYI, some tattoo artists only take cash.

follow the tattoo aftercare instructions to a T!

Your artist will give you instructions on how to care for your first tattoo and it's super important to follow the directions exactly as is. Your tattoo will only look as good as it is healed, so be sure to treat it like a wound.

Depending on their advice, some items I love to use are:

  • Dove Sensitive Skin bar soap

  • Aquaphor healing ointment

Also, if they tell you to not workout while it's healing, don't workout!

In addition, taking some Advil or Tylenol after getting your tattoo can help with pain and swelling if your first tattoo was on the larger side.

after the aftercare...

Some tattoos require touchups, so be sure to check in with your tattoo artist to see if that is necessary. Also, please make sure to apply sunscreen everyday to your first tattoo, in addition to moisturizing it daily! At the end of the day, your skin is the canvas and your tattoo will only look as good as the skin it is on!

Some great tattoo moisturizers and balms are:

  • Project Woo Revitalizing Body Moisturizer

  • Brooklyn Grooming Tattoo Balm

  • EIR NYC Tattoo Balm

  • Mad Rabbit Tattoo Balm

  • Skinfix Inked+ Tattoo Aftercare Balm

I think that concludes your guide and tips for getting your first tattoo! Woohoo!!!! I'm so excited for you! Come back and share a pic of your first tattoo in the comments below!


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