SOUTH SOUND SIDEKICK: First tattoo advice

By Volcano Staff on November 9, 2012

South Sound Sidekick series offers advice from experts living in the, well, South Sound. It posts every Friday. Today, tattoo artist Wizard Garrett has advice to those seeking their first tattoo. Garrett has been tattooing since 2001 and has worked in comics since 2006. The focus of his work is on the aggressive and rapacious approach in the dark side of human nature, the magic and phantasmagoria that dominates the fantasy, horror and Gothic themes of the late 1800s.

Wizard Garrett writes,

When getting your first tattoo there are usually lots of roadblocks, hurdles or unseen complications that make it hard for a client to get into the chair with a design that makes them and the artist happy. Imagine bringing your own recipe printed off the Internet to a restaurant requesting the chef to prepare that particular meal instead of what he was trained to do or even knows how to do.

Now, most of the time artists tell their clients to go through portfolios to find the perfect tattoo artist for them. In theory this makes sense. In reality, in most cases, clients don't know exactly what they want. They find themselves searching for subject matter that comes closest to what they want tattooed on them - not quality of lines, blends, values of shading, saturation of colors, composition and flow of design.

Why would anyone coming in for a first tattoo look for these things?

I will tell you, it's because it's not their job, just like I have no idea what seasonings to use when cooking certain main course meals.

So, what does a first time client need to do when getting their first tattoo? Trust, faith and good intuition. Let the professionals worry about the technical blueprints of creating the perfect design for you. Most trained artists understand the importance of the body's anatomy and why it's relevant to designing your tattoo.

Quick don'ts for any new tattoo client: Don't bring your child and/or big group of friends with you for consultations or procedures.

Don't speculate that just ANYone can do your simple (lettering, logos or single lined) tattoo, the simpler they look the easier they are for someone with little experience to mess up.

Don't price shop for your tattoo. Make the investment the first time so you don't have to spend more to have a different studio cover or fix it. Rome wasn't built in day; we understand the importance of forever just as much as client is concerned. Most studios will try their best to accommodate their client's budget.

Don't listen to your friends, co-workers, family members, the Internet or other tattoo studios when it comes to the aftercare of your fresh tattoo. Listen to whatever aftercare instructions your particular artist gives you and follow them. Most artists guarantee their work and will do a touch-up if its necessary, but if you start playing mad scientist with the healing of your new tattoo then you might not get that understanding artist with your she said he said story.

Do eat an hour or so before you come in. Might be a good idea to bring a sucker or two, that way if you get light headed you can help level out your sugar levels to prevent from passing out. (Also, it can be nice to have something to bite on.)

Do dress appropriately for where ever the tattoo may go. For example if your getting tattooed on your back you should bring a zip up hoodie to wear backwards exposing the back for the artist to work but still providing a professional and comfortable atmosphere.