So You Think You Want to Get Your First Tattoo?
Oh I remember what it felt like to be you. Curious about tattoos, thinking it would fun/cool to have a tattoo. Imagining drawing up a really nice image or maybe asking a friend to do one. Maybe finding something on Pinterest. Not really too worried about who would do the actual tattooing – I mean the real work is the drawing, right? Curious about how much it would cost. $100? $200? Five hundred dollars?! Ahhh innocence. When it comes to getting tattooed, ignorance really can be bliss. Getting your first tattoo is exhilarating, nerve-wracking, frequently confusing, and a unique experience to be savored and treasured. You will carry a permanent reminder of it for the rest of your life (until you realize your first tattoo is garbage and have it covered not once but twice) so take some time to really think about that first tattoo so you can make it a good one.
I am a proud
survivor client of Teresa Sharpe – not my first tattoo artist and probably not my last but definitely my most involved. Teresa has spent more time staring at my up under lady regions than most people I have dated – and yet she continues to smile.
Teresa was the tattoo artist I worked up to. Over time I developed a deeper appreciation for the art of tattooing as well as a willingness to yield control (and potentially a good deal of my common sense) to an incredible artist with the kind of charm and charisma that makes having your foot and ass tattooed seem like a great idea. I can’t prove Teresa is a witch but her talent is bewitching in every conceivable way. Pro tip – if you are getting tattooed by Teresa DO NOT expose skin you don’t want to be tattooed. I removed my sock and ended up with a tattooed foot. I wore a thong and well – ass pictures will eventually follow. Of course, I LOVE every single millimeter of my leg sleeve. But before you get your first tattoo you should know – you will want to talk about it, show it to people, stare at it, hell you might even start a blog so you can write entire articles about it. Tattoos. Are. Addicting.
victims’ clients occasionally befriend each other and trade war stories and hopeless plans to turn our crushes into reality. One such gentleman is my comrade in arms – Stephen Williams. Stephen has only been getting tattooed for a couple of years and he started with Kelly Doty, followed by Eric Chance and now Teresa. I don’t even know why I like him, really. Probably just raw envy. Oh and he is a writer, and funny, and likes creepy dead stuff. Here is Stephen’s first tattoo story in his own words;
I’ve always wanted to be covered in tattoos, but I didn’t take the plunge until 2016. I needed to be ready. After all, you only have so much skin to work with—and I don’t do casual very well. After extensive research and crafting the perfect email, I chose The Queen of the Damned, er, I mean The Queen of New School Tattoos, Kelly Doty.
Once that decision was made, I had a slew of other logistics to sift through. What was my budget? Where would I stay? Did I trust my pain tolerance for multiple sittings, or would a one-shot piece be better? Of course, getting tattooed by Kelly also meant that I’d have to leave my tiny desert town and fly to her shop in Salem, Massachusetts—in February—during a blizzard.
I got lucky. My request for an appointment went through in that sweet spot just after she’d opened Helheim Gallery and just before she disappeared into the Ink Master void. And while flexibility and the strength of your idea ultimately determine whether or not you’re able to get in, trying to book with an artist who is literally the best in their field is still going to require crossed fingers and toes. Anyone reading this who is thinking about getting their first tattoo, know that this chain of events is not typical. I said it once and I’ll say it again, I got lucky.
When the day finally arrived, we were the only two who braved the elements—we had the shop all to ourselves. She answered every question I could come up with, from what goes into designing a tattoo to how she chooses her color palette. The atmosphere was relaxing, like a massage parlor built inside the guts of a crypt, and she’s so funny that I almost didn’t notice as she punched needles into my calf for nine hours.
The whole experience sounds crazy, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it (even walking back to my hotel, at midnight, in a foot of snow). I guess someone should have warned me I was falling in love with the most expensive hobby you can have—but would that have stopped me? Now that I’m so deep it’s impossible to imagine it working out any other way. Tattoo collecting is my destiny.
Lately, Stephen has been letting Teresa murder his back with incredible results.
We were chatting through Instagram and shared this exchange;
So what have we learned? Stephen and I need to charge our phones ASAP, getting a first tattoo is exciting and potentially crazy. Some people are just lucky
Thanks, Stephen. One day when we meet in real life I will buy you a drink at GWAR Bar and we can show each other our asses. You should buy Stephen’s book, too.
I have another friend – that I have met in real life – who has no tattoos but thinks he has arrived at the place where he will actually begin. Let’s call him Mr. Bowles (he knows why). Like most first-timers he wants to know where he should get tattooed, who is a good artist to work with, how big should he go for the first tattoo, how much control he can have over the process? These are all important questions.
He doesn’t know exactly what he wants or where. Has some general ideas. Those are good things. The less specific you are the more likely the chance to work with a top artist. Top artists are very hard to pin down. Stephen isn’t kidding – he really did get lucky. Kelly’s books are now closed. But back to Mr. Bowles. How does someone with no tattoos or tattoo knowledge locate excellent artists that they might want to work with and then contact them and actually get a response? The answer? Carefully and with great patience.
Tattoo artists are kind of notorious for not returning emails. Successful artists have their pick of clients. To get that coveted spot you have to have the perefect blend of concept, size (the better the artist the bigger they are going to want to make that tattoo) and flexibility. Want to micromanage every little detail? Go to your local shop and give a hard-working artist your money. Not every tattoo has to be a unique piece of art – but if you want your tattoo to be extra unique then you have to let your tattoo artist be an artist – not merely a technician.
My friend knows my thoughts on this matter. By now he has gleaned that asking tattooed people about tattoos and tattoo related subjects will likely result in an extensive soliloquy that can leave your eyes glazed and mind wandering. Talking about your tattoos and tattoos, in general, comes with the territory Mr. Bowles – you should know what you are getting yourself into. Based on his general concept ideas, his desire for an excellent tattoo and a willingness to pay for it, and some other considerations I am suggesting trying to book with either Jeff Gogue, or Roxx from 2Spirit. I am trying to get his expectations into line and prepare him for a long, frustrating wait. Watch. He will land a spot with Gogue right out of the gate or some Stephen Williams style bullshit.
And that is the way the tattoo world works a lot of times. There is alchemy in connecting with the right artist at the right moment and viola – your journey has begun. All you first-timers out there – do your homework, save your money, read up on how to not be a dick at a tattoo shop and why you should tip your artist and go out and make a memory and an impression with your very first tattoo. I will be rooting for you.