That is the question. I recently got my second tattoo, and had to go through a bit of thinking to make the decision. Factor in these things before you get inked up, you'll thank me.
Things to Think About:
1. What do you want?
It's easy to say, "i want a tattoo!" but you have to know exactly what you want before you go into the shop. They'll ask you for specifics like, what size, colors, font, etc. And if you don't have an idea the artist will help you figure it out, but you may end up getting something you don't really want, so just be prepared.
2. Where do you want it?
Again, be specific. It's easy to say "I want a song lyric tattoo," but where do you want it? Have an idea before you commit to the ink.
3. What shop will you go to?
Try to do some research on an artist that is trustworthy and works for a clean and efficient business. Needles are risky business, and if you don't go to a place that is up to safety and medical codes, bad things can happen.
4. How much do you want to spend?
Don't skimp on price, anywhere that seems to low to be true is probably lacking in the safety department. Do not take a risk on this. Get something small to start to see if you like the look of ink on your skin, simple tattoos without color are usually under 100 dollars. Both of my small tattoos were 50 dollars each.
5. What does it represent?
Tattoos can hold a lot of meaning or none at all. Really think about this. Do you want this tattoo because it's art? Or are you representing a milestone? I got my first tattoo (a black star with red filler) when I moved into my first apartment on my own in college. I had been drawing it on myself since I was 13 and decided once and for all to make the commitment. Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day has a smaller, similar one on his right hand and that band has been a constant positive influence on my life. It also was the symbol of my first rock band. So it holds a lot of meaning. My second tattoo was written in my own handwriting and is just one word, "Libertine". It's just a reminder to be myself. More simple, same thing. Also it's a little reward for securing a job in New York City this July.
Pros of Getting a Tattoo:
1. You'll always have it with you.
If you commit to a tattoo it will stay with you forever. You'll always have it as a reminder of a time or place, person or thing. It creates a lasting memory unlike a lot of uncertain things in life. Tattoos can remind you of how to be yourself, commemorate someone's memory, or just be for fun. Regardless, tattoos are for you and you only, and that's pretty empowering.
A photo of my first tattoo right after it was done. Ouch!
2. You become a work of art.
t's pretty cool to have a piece of art on your body, no matter how small.
3. It can be a bonding experience.
My friend Emily and I got tattoos together. She got a puzzle piece to commemorate her sister and Autism awareness (a pretty awesome thing) and I got a word that means a lot to me. We bonded, had lunch and made a day around it. It also doesn't matter if the the tattoos match or not. Just go with someone!
4. There's definitely a cool factor.
Tattoos are rad, that's just the way it is.
5. Tattoos can spark conversation.
People will ask you what the story behind it is, when you got it, etcetera. It can make you new friends and engage you with new people.
Cons of Getting a tattoo:
1. It'll be with you forever.
If you get something you like in the moment, and hate in 5 years, guess what you're stuck with it. So put a lot of thought into it and make sure it's something you want.
2. There's a weird societal stigma:
People who have tattoos are viewed adversely in society, to some extent. But for me, this is not so much a factor. Just an observation for the sake of this article. By all means get weird and go for it.
3. Sometimes there can be complications.
Aftercare is pretty simple for small tattoos, but once you enter sleeves and full size art pieces there can be issues like cracking, peeling and dryness.
4. They hurt.
Pain can be a huge deterrent for people. Mine didn't hurt too badly, but they were uncomfortable. It depends on your threshold of pain to be honest so judge that personally.
Whatever your decision, know that you're doing this for yourself. Nobody else. It doesn't matter whether your friends understand your tattoo or get the meaning. It doesn't matter if your parents love or hate it (if you are above 18 of course). All that matters is you are making a commitment for yourself. So bear these things in mind, be safe and go for it! (or not)