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What to know about getting a tattoo

by Karen Martin | January 15, 2023 at 1:49 a.m.
Karen Martin

Thinking about getting a tattoo? We won't try to talk you out of it. Step 1 is research. Here's a start.

Why do people get tattoos? Many reasons: Peer pressure, media influence, personal expression (such as to remember/honor a relative or friend). To celebrate a relationship, to announce an affiliation with a musician or celebrity, a political or social organization, or a country. To illustrate a slogan, motto, or quote that is a life-guiding force. To reject cultural upbringing and make a break from the past. As a fashion statement.

Some find tattoos to be aesthetically appealing. Some say they have higher body appreciation, increased self-esteem, and lower levels of anxiety after getting new tattoos.

Why do people refrain from getting tattoos? Many reasons: Avoiding disapproval from family and friends. Limiting employment opportunities or incurring negative views at work. Expense. Concerns about the permanency of tattoos and a sense that they look unattractive on older people. Possible medical complications. Fear of needles and pain. Overly aggressive attention-getters. Permanent.

What does a tattoo cost? Prices are based on size, color, intricacy of design, and artist experience. A small tattoo will likely cost from $150-$450. A full-sleeve tattoo can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000.

How long does it take to get a tattoo? A three-inch by three-inch tattoo in black ink will take at least an hour. Larger, more detailed multi-colored tattoos require multiple sessions with the artist and can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months or longer. Each session is typically four to six hours.

Are tattoos legal? It is unlawful in Arkansas to either tattoo or pierce anyone under age 18 without the physical presence of the parent or legal guardian. It's illegal to get a tattoo from an artist or studio that isn't registered or licensed. Some tattoos are copyrighted.

Where's the best part of a body to get a tattoo? Somewhere that doesn't get a lot of sun exposure and where the skin is unlikely to stretch with aging, like the outer collarbone. Other sun-resistant locations include inner forearm, back, upper thighs, upper rib cage, back of the neck just below the hairline, calves, shoulders. Worst: abdomen, crease lines, feet (and anywhere that rubs against clothing), fingers and hands, inner ear.

What ink colors are best to use? White or other light colors like pale blue work well on people with fair skin. Red, green, orange, and blues enhance tan or olive-toned skin. Crimson, black, and dark blue are best suited to darker skin tones.

How painful is it to get a tattoo? It depends on an individual's pain tolerance. Those who hate getting shots may not enjoy the experience. The least amount of pain is experienced in the arm and thigh areas, as they have more fat tissue and less nerve density. The most discomfort happens in the ribs, feet, and middle chest, where there's less fat, thin skin, and bone is closer to the surface of the skin, allowing one to feel the sensitivity of the needle more.

What designs/motifs are the most common? Butterflies, flowers, dragons, landscapes, hearts, school spirit logos, pets, infinity and celestial symbols.

How long does a tattoo last? A new tattoo should be cleaned and moisturized twice a day for the first week; stay out of the sun to keep the ink from fading. It takes about two weeks to a month for a tattoo to completely heal. With smart body placement, a tattoo can last around 10 years before needing to be touched up.

What happens to a tattoo if you gain weight? The more pounds you gain, the more the tattoo will be distorted.

What happens to a tattoo if you lose weight? If your skin gets loose during weight loss, your tattoo might shift. If you are losing weight while also toning or building muscle, then your tattoo might sculpt to your body in a different way.

Can a tattoo be removed? Lasers can completely remove tattoos. Lighter colors are harder to remove than darker colors. The discomfort level is similar to that of a sunburn.

How do you find a skilled tattoo artist? Finding an artist is easiest if you know what you want. Any reputable shop can do basic designs. Visit shops to see if the vibe suits you. Ask others whose bodies display work you admire. Low prices may not be the wisest guiding principle when seeking top-quality work.

Indulging in getting a tattoo while under the influence (of anything) is not a good idea. You might regret it. If you're going to get it done, get it done with a clear head.

Karen Martin is senior editor of Perspective.

Print Headline: What to know about getting a tattoo


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