The process of getting your first tattoo

Getting a tattoo was a huge moment for me. It made me feel like a true 18 year old, and an act of some kind of teenage rebellion. So far, I don’t regret it and I don’t think that I ever really will. I got it in a hidden place (my ribcage) and so it isn’t visible to most people, and is also not huge. I was hugely nervous about what getting a tattoo would be like, and did a huge amount of research into it. As a result of this, I thought I would share what the process was like for me.


Naturally, this is the first step to be taken. For me, I didn’t really have an idea of something that I wanted that was particularly meaningful. I was more looking for something that was pretty and would just add to my appearance. I’ve always really loved body art including piercings, so was always scrolling through Instagram. One day I just came across a design that I thought was really beautiful, it was a floral design on the ribcage. The tattoo artist’s account is @anna_bravo_. As soon as I saw it, I just thought that it would suit me and that it was definitely something that I’d like.

I do of course understand however, that a lot of people choose tattoos based on something personal to them – everyone has different tastes and choices. Although I did show the design to my friends, who all happened to like it, a tattoo is a personal preference. You have to be the one who likes it because you are the one who will see it everyday. I definitely think that as long as you like it, then that is mainly what matters. 

“ Do keep in mind your future goals and career plans and how a tattoo might impact these.  ”

Of course, I have to say that you do need to think about where you’re getting your tattoo and what you are getting in regards to your future goals. If you are aiming to be a primary school teacher and you have a swear word written across your knuckles then you may find it difficult to get a job. A lot of the time, tattoos can be covered up if then need to be, either with makeup or clothing, but it goes without saying that you do need to be smart when choosing your design.


This, I think is the most important part of the process. Do your research, and do a lot of it. Ask people that you know who have had tattoos where is good. You want to look at not only the parlour that you are going to, but also the artist’s previous work. You will find that a lot of tattoo artists have online portfolios that you can look at. You do want to choose somebody who has done tattoos in a similar style to what you want, and that has had a lot of experience. Remember, that this is going to be on your body forever! Choose wisely. There is no rush to get a tattoo – you have your whole life so just spend a good amount of time scrolling. Make sure you look at reviews, often you can find these on their Facebook pages.

Although I didn’t get mine done in Cardiff, my friend has done and recommends ‘Silver Hand’. This is near to Revs, in the Castle Arcade. He said that it had good prices and also often can do walk-in appointments, if you do have a spare of the moment inspiration. He though that the artists were really nice, and did a really good job. 


Before my appointment, I went into the parlour to meet my chosen artist. I thought she was really nice and she showed me some of her previous drawings for tattoos, her style was exactly what I was looking for. I then showed her the design I liked, and she agreed to do it. The tattoo artist does have a choice as to whether they will do your design. She then told me that she would redraw it in her own style to the size and dimensions that I wanted. I booked my appointment, and she gave me a quote and I was on my way!

For my tattoo, which is about 4”x2” it cost me £100. Prices do vary, depending on where you go, but for me the price wasn’t an issue. I’d much rather pay a large amount of money than pay less and have to get it redone or adjusted afterwards. For students, tattoos can definitely be out of the budget, so it may be wise to save up for a while and not just get one on a whim.

“ Good tattoos cost good money. ”

On my appointment day, I was very nervous. I had done a lot of research, and saw that people were saying that to get it done on the ribs is an extremely painful place -  I agree with them! I had also researched whether I could use a numbing cream to reduce the pain, but had heard that this can make the ink not set into your skin properly and the design can run. Because of this, I didn’t use any creams but did take a couple of paracetamols before hand.

All in all, I would say that it was a 8/10 pain level. The most painful part is the line work and not the shading so keep this in mind! It took about 50 minutes to finish my tattoo but it was complete it was definitely worth the pain. I’d describe the feeling as someone pushing against your skin with a very sharp pencil, and this causes a dragging feeling on the skin. 


I found the after care of this surprisingly simple. For smaller tattoos, you only need to keep the plastic wrapping that the artist will apply for a couple of hours. Just keep in moisturised – I used Simple Kind To Skin Moisturiser. After a few days it will start to scab, just don’t pick this off and eventually all of the scabbing will naturally fall off and you’ll be completely healed. For smaller tattoos, it will be healed within two weeks, but for larger ones this process may be longer. 

I hope this advice has helped you make a decision about whether you want a tattoo and given you an idea about what the process may be like for you. Good luck in your tattoo seeking!

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Written by Emma Videan, 10 months ago
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