This post is very different for me but I wanted to share with you all my personal experience of getting my first tattoo. Warning this post is very long and detailed! Please also bear in mind this is all purely my experience and everyone’s experience will be completely different. I am recommending what worked for myself in hope it will help to prepare anyone who is going to get their first tattoo and answer some questions you may not feel comfortable asking your tattooist.
Before getting my tattoo I researched so much and on the lead up to the tattoo I was looking up for blogs where people had posted their own experiences so I could have an idea of what to expect but most of the posts I found were for smaller tattoos that would not take so long so I decided to post my own experience for you all along with some tips I picked up along the way.
Since a very young age I have always been fascinated by tattoos as my brother had some and I also used to watch a lot of tattoo programmes where I would get inspiration for what I wanted myself. I had decided when I was about 13 years old that I wanted aa tattoo but was obviously too you to get one (Legally anyway!) my mother would also never allow me to get one at that age and had said that once I was eighteen I could get one if I still wanted to, I still think she was secretly hoping I would decide not to get one before then!
I spent a lot of time deciding what I wanted to get and had a few designs in mind but they were never quite right for me, as my first tattoo I decided to get something that is very personal to me and would be in memory to my late grandmother so it had to be perfect. I eventually decided I would like to incorporate all of her favourite flowers into one large colourful tattoo. Next I had to decide on placement which was fairly simple for myself as I always had the idea of the tattoo being somewhat close to my heart so I decided to get the tattoo on my left ribcage. Of course I would have to pick one of the more painful places to get my tattoo! As there is a lot of bone there and I am naturally skinny I was prepared for the tattoo to be slightly more painful.
As I came closer and closer to my eighteenth birthday I had to decide where I wanted to get my tattoo done, as I was going to London for my birthday I had looked at a couple of different places there but wasn’t happy with them as I wanted my tattoo to be original and different to the standard pictures on the internet but they were happy to just ‘copy and paste’ one of the designs I had sent as a basic idea that I wanted. Also I was aware this tattoo could not be completed in one sitting so would involve travelling back and forth for every sitting. I asked my brother for some advice on where he would recommend which was a local studio called ‘Inkredible Kreations’ they have a brilliant reputation locally and have completed some amazing tattoos, one of my brothers friends had recommended I went to the artist Isla as she is a brilliant artist and could really help me make my design unique and exactly how I wanted it to look. Isla is also great wirth floral work and colour so I called straight in and booked a consultation.
In my first consultation I met Isla and discussed what I wanted which was a Daffodil, Rose, Lilly and a Carnation with a butterfly coming out of the flowers. I showed Isla a series of reference pictures that I had gathered over time as I wanted certain things from some of the pictures. From the consultation Isla decided I would probably need about three separate sittings all for about four hours. I had also decided at this point that I wanted a small piece of script on my wrist saying ‘Always Smile’ as this is something that has came up often throughout my life and to me it is important to keep smiling as even if you are not feeling great smiling always seems to make me feel better. At the time of the consultation in September Isla took a copy of my photographic ID which you will need to take along with you if you are planning on getting a tattoo to show you are of legal age and also I paid a deposit for all of my appointments. I had another consultation booked in for the middle of January about 2 weeks before my tattoo to see the final design and make any last changes if I wanted to. We also booked in the appointments at this time so I had the first sitting at the end of January, second at the beginning of March and the final sitting was booked for the beginning of May.
For my second consultation I had got to see the final design. I was honestly shocked at how Isla had managed to take all of my ideas and put them onto paper it looked better than I could have ever imagined myself. Everything I wanted in the tattoo was there and perfect. A unique design that was a brilliant piece of art, I still had to decide on the colours but had left this until after the first sitting before I decided this.
As the day came closer everything started to feel real now I was finally getting the tattoo I had always wanted. I was slightly daunted by the process as some people had expressed how much pain they felt while getting a tattoo and some had said they felt none at all and knowing how rubbish my pain threshold is I thought I would be one of those who found it extremely painful.
I done some more research on what to do before getting a tattoo so on the morning before I made sure I had a large filling breakfast and had a portion of porridge which always keeps me full personally for a long time. I had also pakcked some sugary snacks and juice and plenty of water in my bag to take with me. While you’re getting a tattoo your body uses a lot of adrenaline so it is important to keep your sugar levels up and keeping yourself hydrated as you don’t want to pass out through the tattoo!
Finally the time came for me to head down to the studio, I went by myself as that was easiest for me, some studios do allow you to take along friends or family but I would check first. I went into the studio and Isla done my small wrist tattoo first as this was my first time getting a tattoo we decided it would be best to ease into it.A stencil of the tattoo was placed on my wrist and it worked out being central first time. On my wrist I barely felt a thing just a very light scratching feeling and this one was finished after about 10 minutes.
We then went on to the larger piece on my ribs and this was also stencilled on and some was drawn on first as it could not all fit on the stencil. When we started on my ribs I could not feel any pain it felt much more like a scratching sensation much more irritating that pain. When the outline is done it is usually just one long needle that is used so it is not as painful. The time went by quickly, there is an option to take breaks if you feel the need to but I didn’t bother with this unless I needed to go use the restroom. Before I knew it the outline was finished and the four hours was finished and my tattoo was all wrapped up to keep it clean. After the tattoo was finished I felt very drained as your body has just undergone trauma to the body so I got myself something to eat and had a little nap and also had a super early night.
This part is extremely important as you want your tattoo to heal well, I was advised to keep the cling film on for a couple of hours then to shower once I have taken it off so any excess ink is washed off. You want to use a non fragranced soap for this and it is normal to have some ink wash off. I had Bepanthen to put on the tattoo for the first 3 days of healing and also had been advised to wash the tattoo 3 times per day at this early stage as it is still an open wound so you don’t want to risk anything getting into the tattoo and causing an infection. After the first three days I was advised to use Palmers Cocoa Butter as this will help to moisturise the skin. When I had just got the outline done I didn’t particularly notice any scabbing in the tattoo itself.
For my second sitting the shading was added between the flowers to add some background to tie everything together. The shading was kept as grey and black as there is already so much colour in the piece itself. So this would help the colours pop. The shading took just under 2 hours as it was all free handed on as the leaves of all the different flowers. Now for shading and colour a different kind of needle is used which has lots of smaller needles together there is more discomfort in this part of the process as it is a larger needle and is likely that the same area will need to be gone over multiple times to get the correct depth of colour. I had the needles explained to me by my tattooist so for the script on my wrist that was 5 needles together and for the outline of my ribcage tattoo that was 9 needles used. For the shading and colour the needle is shaped more like a paintbrush would be with 15 needles together.
Then the colour was started from the darkest colour first, I decided to get the butterfly a dark blue fading into a light turquoise shade which was completed first then the rose was completed which is a bright red shade. The rose was quite painful as it was on my waist more on my back and seemed to be the most uncomfortable place so far.
I followed the same aftercare as the first sitting, I got my tattoo on the Thursday and by mid Sunday I had began flaking badly. This is completely normal to happen as it is the skins way of healing, this should not damage the tattoo as long as you do not pick at it!!
The skin will naturally flake off when it is ready but not before. This is crucial as picking at your skin wil ruin the tattoo when it is healed. It is also important not to soak the tattoo so avoid baths or swimming for the first couple of weeks until the tattoo is healed.
I had my third sitting last Friday so I was so excited to get the tattoo finished finally it was a long process but so worth it for me! I was booked in again for four hours again so made sure I had something to eat before beginning the sitting. We first began on the Lilly which was not too painful I seem to find the area’s on the bone are not too painful it is more the area’s on the edge of the bone or fleshy area’s that were more painful for me but this will be different for everyone. This took roughly an hour and was completed, I think this one is my favourite purely because of the detail in the flower itself is stunning and very eyecatching.
We then moved onto the carnation which truthfully was the most painful part and I could not wait for it to be over, I know I was probably moving around a little and trying everything possible to take my mind off the pain. One thing I found that did help was to just focus on my breathing so I am concentrating on something other than the pain. Again this one was finished after around an hour so we were well ahead of schedule!
Finally we moved on to the daffodil which was a breeze for me I could hardly feel a thing and actually felt very relaxed during this part of the tattoo. Also the butterfly had some white added to the very edge of the wings to help fade out the blue. Before I knew it the tattoo was finished after 3 hours. We took some pictures and it is very hard to get this whole tattoo in one picture! So it did take a while to get the right one. I am so pleased with how the whole piece turned out and how bright the tattoo is, I know colour tattoo’s are not for everyone but I personally love mine being bright and colourful.
Once your tattoo is finished it will be wrapped up in clingfilm and this should be kept on for around 1-2 hours and then go for a shower when it is removed as there will be some excess ink that will need washed off so don’t panic if you see a lot of ink coming out as this is completely normal.
After your shower you want to pat your tattoo dry and then apply bepanthen. For the first couple of days it will feel like sunburn and very tender. I found by Sunday morning my tattoo started to feel slightly tight and try so I switched to Palmers Cocoa butter at this point as the bepanthen is not very moisturising. By today (Monday) the scabbing has started but is not too bad yet, I have added in a picture of what it looks like on the Lilly just now.
Thank you so much for reading this post (If you made it to the end!) I will add in a picture once it is fully healed. In about 6 weeks time I will check how the healing has gone and may need a touch up but the last sitting did heal up nicely. Also if you have any questions at all please feel free to leave them below and I will try my best to answer them.