Tips and Tricks: Ten tips for successful tattoos

Hey Cobbers! I mentioned last week how getting a tattoo is a great way to celebrate yourself and your success (if you choose to do so), however, I recognize that there might be quite a few people out there who don’t know what getting a tattoo is like. Also, freshman year is usually the year of mental breakdowns which results in nose piercings and tattoos rather than therapy appointments. So, I figured, let’s compile a list of 10 tips and tricks on how to practice tattoo etiquette. Enjoy!

  1. Be polite. Courtesy and common respect should be something we all practice all of the time, but it is especially important in regards to the tattoo and piercing industry. You are trusting someone to stab you multiple times. Be nice to them.
  2. Eat at least 4 hours before your appointment! You have to eat something. It can be a peanut butter sandwich, Jimmy John’s, or a 7-course crab dinner. Make sure you are fueling your body with something substantial to get through your appointment. Even if you’re appointment will only take 20 minutes, make sure to grab a hearty snack on your way out the door! You don’t want to faint or pass out during your tattoo.
  3. Avoid taking any pain killers before your appointment. Taking Advil or Ibuprofen before your appointment can actually increase your chance of bleeding during the tattooing process, which is something we would all like to avoid (I want to recognize that it is okay if you bleed while getting a tattoo, but please try and avoid stimulating the bleeding).
  4. Spell check your tattoo designs, especially if it’s a quote or someone’s name. Most tattoo parlors will have you sign off on the design or a form stating that the spelling of the tattoo is not the fault of the artist so MAKE SURE that you are going over your designs thoroughly.
  5. Listen to your artist. Each parlor and shop have their own set of cleaning and care instructions. Your artist is guaranteed to have more knowledge and understanding of your skin and the healing prices than Google. Trust me.
  6. Tip your tattoo artist. Tip them well. If you are not financially able to cover at least a 20% tip for a tattoo, wait to get it. Like a hair or nail salon, tattoo parlors are a part of the service industry and should be respected as such.
  7. Only bring one friend or don’t bring someone.. I understand getting a tattoo is an exciting process and you want your friends to be there with you, but parlors aren’t traditionally the most spacious places and your artist needs to be able to concentrate and have room to move around and navigate your body. Having multiple people in the room can be stressful and busy. Instead, make plans to go out to eat after your appointment with everyone and show it off then. Better yet, you can make an Instagram post of the final product. That way everyone can see it.
  8. Pay the price that is expected. Tattooing is not like buying a car. The price of your tattoo is set for a reason. Good art costs money. Great art is something worth paying for, especially when it is a lifelong decoration.
  9. Dress for your appointment. Example: If you are tattooing your knee, wear shorts, not pants. Make sure the area you are getting tattooed is fully accessible for your artist. There shouldn’t be any baggy clothing or accessories in the way.
  10. Be sober. Tattooing is a creative and artistic process and it’s something you need to be sober for. Most, if not all, shops will have a form for you to fill out that includes a question about sobriety. Remember this for all tattoos, including stick and pokes!

While this isn’t everything you should know about getting a tattoo, it’s a great place to start if you are unsure of tattoo etiquette! Remember to take a deep breath, eat some food, and go for it. You got this! Have fun!

See you next week,



  1. I like how you mentioned making sure that if you’re getting writing tattooed on your body it’s spelled correctly. My brother is thinking of looking for a tattoo artist because he’s considering getting a tribal sleeve tattooed on his right arm to symbolize our culture. It seems like a good idea of my brother to think about hiring a reputable professional that can make the permanent ink he wants on his body to look as nice as possible.

  2. It is great to know that it will be important for me to make sure I have eaten before my tattoo appointment! I don’t do well with needles or blood, so having a full stomach will help me avoid passing out. I have been thinking about getting a rainbow tattoo in honor of my sweet son who was born about a year ago, so these tips are really helpful!

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