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So, You Want To Get A Tattoo

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We don't know about you, but we think properly committing to a tattoo deserves a little more thought and consideration than, say, finally shelling out on those designer shoes you've been eyeing for a couple of weekends. While it's meant to be a fun and exciting move, it's also, you know, permanent, so it isn't a decision to be taken lightly. 

Whether it's choosing the right artist, sleeping on that design you think you maybe want to get, or considering when and where to get inked, there are a lot of things to mull over before even stepping foot inside a parlor. Ahead, we talk to tattoo artist Hector Daniels from Bang Bang Tattoos in New York City to get the lowdown on what to consider before taking the tat plunge. 
Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Deciding On A Design
While we're all for (safe) spontaneous decisions, when it comes to figuring out artwork you're going to permanently add to your body, we're gonna go with not embracing that YOLO mantra. Even though there are procedures (and lots of makeup!) nowadays that can help cover up those regrettable late-night choices, it's a lot easier for both parties (and your wallet) to get it right the first time. And, as with all good things, that can take time.

"I think that the more time a client can take for themselves, by themselves and with friends, to discuss and formulate ideas as to what they want...the greater the piece," says Daniels. "Your skin isn’t going anywhere; you have all the time in the world." He adds that if you're feeling stressed out about what design to get, you should probably hold off — tattoos should come organically. 

Placement Is Key
Do you want something that's front and center, or are you looking for ink that's a little easier to hide from the parentals or, say, your boss? Daniels says that while many customers worry about placement from a pain perspective, at the end of the day getting a tattoo is going to hurt regardless. Location is something to keep in mind mainly for visual purposes.

"Wherever you want the tattoo will dictate how it gets designed," he says. "I think placement is very important because you can have a perfect tattoo, but if it’s placed incorrectly on the body, then the client can feel weird when they look in the mirror or there’s just something off...you want to...look in the mirror and feel great about the artwork, where it's positioned, and how it looks."
Plan In Advance
With great tats comes great responsibility — or something like that (thanks, Spider-Man). Once you have the tattoo design you've mulled over for months and pinpointed the exact spot on your body, it's important to keep timing and after-care in mind. "If you're going to a warmer climate and you want to enjoy sunbathing and the water, you may not want to get tattooed a day or two before that trip. You might want to give it some time, maybe like a week or two," says Daniels. "And, if it doesn’t match up, like I said before, your skin isn’t going anywhere...I hate it when we’ve done two or three hours' worth of work and the client goes out in the sun and beats that thing up."

Do Your Research
With the wonderful worldwide web at your fingertips, there's no reason you shouldn't properly research your artist. "Clients have way more tools than ever to look for an artist — there are so many apps that they can look on; you can Google or Pinterest, and there are so many tattoo forums and blogs to find artists!" says Daniels. "You can email artists or meet up with them; all those things really help. Consultations are extremely valuable, to the client and to the artist, because [they let] us both know what [the other is] looking for."

And, one more time with feeling, let us remind you that this is an, ahem, permanent procedure, so while being a fan of the artist's work is important, that's null and void if you're not on the same page. "The same way you’d want to find the best person for a breast surgery or a tummy tuck, I think it’s the same type of action," says Daniels. "You need to look for the right person who’s going to pull it off."
Practice Trust
Once you find that one artist you vibe with, it's important to channel your inner Elsa and let it go. The "it" here being your anxiety and hesitation, which understandably come along with a procedure like this. Know that the artist isn't here to screw you over, and that they have your best interests in mind. "It's almost as if they're jumping out of an airplane. They have someone behind them, and they trust that this person will pull the cord — I think it’s the same kind of feeling," says Daniels. "They need to really have this bond with the artist and believe in [them]... That’s when the best tattoos happen, because the artist feels good and doesn’t have someone on their shoulders controlling every aspect of their work... It’s their job, and they want to come through for the client and for themselves."

Last but not least, have fun! This shouldn't be headache-inducing. "Tattoos are very empowering, and I’ve seen tattoos be very therapeutic. When done right, and when the client has done their homework and feels comfortable and confident with the artist, nothing can beat the smile that they get and nothing can beat the vibe they feel," says Daniels.
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