Sorry this took so long to write... drafts would have helped 😏 It took me a year from the time I first decided what tattoo I wanted to get before I got it and haven't stopped since. I'm no expert but I'm always here if you have more questions!
  1. Decide on what you want to get.
    It's best to know what you want- it's going to be on your body forever! If you're doing something original, it's best to search tattoo places to see what the artist specializes in. Some specialize in portraits or traditional, etc. so you want to know that the drawing or image will translate well. It also gives you a good idea of the type of work a tattooer does. Many do a consultation before any needle touches you. If it's up to the tattooer, you're very brave and trusting if it's your first!
  2. Have an idea of what you want it to look like.
    If you're getting words, it's best to think about the font. Script? Traditional? In someone's handwriting?They have you write it out exactly how you want it- meaning they aren't liable for any incorrect spelling. They have you triple check it- after you write it, after they make the sketch and once it's on your body. If it's an image, do you want it in color? black and white? Shading? Just an outline?
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    It's good to think about how big (or small) you'd want that tattoo to be. Smaller tattoos usually take less time. It takes longer for them to set up their station than actually tattooing you. Larger tattoos may require multiple sittings- one to do line work, one to do color, one to do shading- depending on how intricate it is.
  4. Have an idea of where you want it to be placed on your body.
    It's always good to go into a consultation knowing where you want something placed. They know better than you so if you have an idea so they can work with the natural shape of your body (especially if you're looking for it done on your foot, hip, ribs, etc.) I was dead set on getting a finger tattoo until the tattooer told me how quickly it would fade and suggested a different placement. I'm glad I didn't waste money on something that wasn't going to stay.
  5. Know your price range.
    Have an idea of how much you're willing to spend. Some places have a shop minimum (in San Francisco, most are around $60/$80) meaning no matter how small it is, you have to pay that amount and they reserve the right to go up depending on the size. Or other shops require a deposit beforehand. It goes towards the total cost, but they are takin time to draw out an image for you so they want to make sure you're committed to it. Its usually a good idea to call or go in and double check how much.
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    Most places also give a quote for a tattoo so you get an general idea of how much it would cost. Small to medium sized pieces can go up to $200/$250. Larger pieces usually start at $300 and go up from them depending how detailed or multiple sittings it may end up being.
  7. Most importantly- research!
    If it's your first, it's always a good idea to see what shops are in the area - even if you're staying local. Taking a look at their website, Instagram, Facebook, or any social media give you a sense of everyone that works there and the style/quality of work they produce. I have now made friends with three different tattooers at three different shops. I trust them with my body because I wasn't afraid to ask questions or tell them I wanted it bigger or smaller.