If you’ve been thinking about getting some new ink, there are a few things to consider first (it is permanent after all). New York-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., and tattoo artist Becca Roach from North Star Tattoo, who’s responsible for the unicorn tattoo on Lady Gaga’s thigh, share their expert advice on the most important things one should know before getting a tattoo.
1. Don’t use Google or Pinterest when looking for a tattoo idea. Unless you want your tattoo to look like everyone else’s.
2. Instead, scour Instagram for inspiration or to help you find an artist you’d like to use. Most tattoo artists use their Instagram feeds as portfolios to showcase their recent work and the pieces they’re most proud of. If you find an artist you’re really drawn to but don’t know what to get, reach out to them and ask for their input. Many tattoo artists have tons of designs they’ve created on the side and are dying to tattoo on people. Also, read Yelp reviews. Customers don’t hold back on those, good or bad.
3. If you’re allergic to hair dye, you might also get an allergic reaction from a tattoo. Tattoo reactions are not common, but difficult to treat when they occur. Dr. Zeichner says they mainly develop in response to colored dyes, so usually black is the safest ink to use. He does not recommend a tattoo if you have a history of allergy to hair dye (there maybe a cross reaction), costume jewelry, or cheap fragrance because you might be more likely to develop a reaction.
4. The most famous artists have a waiting list. A well-known tattoo artist could have a waiting list up to a year or longer. If you’re obsessed with the artist, then wait. Otherwise, find a more low-key artist who is just as talented — you’ll also save quite a bit of money that way.
5. A tattoo artist doesn’t have to help you if they don’t want. They can and will send a customer away based on grounds as simple as “bad vibes.” They do enough business that they can choose whom they want to work with.
6. A good tattoo isn’t cheap, and a cheap tattoo isn’t good. The price of a tattoo depends on the size, area of the body you want covered, and the artist, but typically a good tattoo will cost you anywhere from $50 for a tiny design to a few month’s rent for more elaborate art.
7. Prices are non-negotiable. You really can’t bargain with a tattoo artist on the set price he or she charges for a tattoo. Just like how you can’t bargain with the salesperson at Bloomingdale’s.