Tattoo of Brazilian flowers and national flag

“I want my tattoos to have meaning”, “I ‘d never pay more than one-hundred dollars for a tattoo”, “I think people with neck and face tattoos look ugly”

My tattoo artist says, “if you don’t like what’s on my arm, then don’t shake my hand.” What you get on your body is 100% up to you. if you love tattoos, great! If you don’t, also great! But you don’t have to externalize your personal biases. We all have an opinion on, well, everything, but that shouldn’t mean hurting someone’s feeling.

There was a time that I was introduced to a friend of a friend. The first thing that the mutually acquainted stranger said was “wow, you have a lot of tattoos.” My friend replied, “yeah, but she’s not like that. She’s a really sweet person.” Let’s unpack that. In that conversation, was it my friend or her friend who had these preconceived notions of tattoos equating to danger and unpleasantness? My friend assumed that, upon meeting me, people would think that I was strange because of what I use to decorate my body. We should think before we speak because sometimes our personal prejudices may come out to bite. But, regardless of whether you want a (possibly new) tattoo or piercing, here are some of the basics.

Whether it’s your first or your thirtieth tattoo, you want it to be clean, you want it to be inexpensive, and you want it to look beautiful. The first tattoo I ever got was actually before my eighteenth birthday. My mom knew how much it meant to me, so she signed the waiver. Although I have yet to regret any of my tattoos, that remains one of my least favorite art styles. I know what I wanted and where I wanted it. What I didn’t know was that you need to communicate with your artist. I was seventeen and very shy. It wasn’t until after the artist was rubbing Aquafor on my wrist that I realized I should have asked for him to move it over and space it out some. The best advice I can give is don’t be afraid to be specific about what you do, and more importantly do NOT, want on your body.

For those wanting piercings, I recommend Tattooing U and for those wanting ink I recommend Absolute Tattoo. Both of these are less than 10 minutes away from UNCC. The piercing minimum at Tattooing U is $30 and the tattoo minimum at Absolute is $50. Whichever you choose, make sure to call first. Not only will this save you from a potentially long wait, but most tattoo parlors now are appointment only.

If you’re looking for a big or complicated tattoo, schedule a consultation. This is when you talk things out with your artist or piercer. You two can brainstorm fonts, colors, placement, etc. But, there are plenty of people (myself included) who get tattoos off of a flash sheet. These are the prepared drawings of smiley faces or dolphins or stars. Along that thread, one really unique thing at Absolute Tattoo is their gumball machine. They charge $50 instead of 50 cents, but whatever you get is what you get. You either put that tattoo on you or you let those $50 go to waste. I have yet to get a “blind tattoo” done, but I think it sounds like it would make for an interesting story at the very least.

Meaningful tattoos are awesome. I have several that hold a personal tidbit of myself within them. If this is something you want but can’t seem to decide on, think back. Think of the things that have brought you constant joy over the past few years. This can be a tv show, it can be a book, a favorite plant or favorite food. You could also get a tattoo in memory of someone close to you. Pets always make for a good memory as well as adorable tattoos. The more significance, the more perfect you’ll want it to look. This is one of those times that you want to do your research. Look up different art styles, think about whether you want fine black lines or thick colorful patches. If you’re getting words or numbers, make sure that they’re big enough that they won’t bleed together over time.

Whatever you decide, decide for yourself. Remember: what you put on yourself is completely up to you. Remember also: it is not your place to judge what others put on themselves because that, too, is completely up to them.

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