BuzzFeed talked to three tattoo artists from Tattoo Nightmares Miami on what advice they had for first-time tattoo-getters.
From left: Clint Cummings, Reese Hilburn, and High Noon.
1. Do your research.
“People in the industry do tattoos so many different ways. You have to ask yourself, what kind of person are you? What style of art do you like? Once you know, then you go and do your research on the people who do that kind of art. Kids are getting smarter these days — I see a lot more full sleeves where they’re doing research and planning out their tattoos. The most important thing is to find out what kind of person you are.” —Clint Cummings
“Make sure it’s relevant to your personality and that it’s something that you want for the rest of the world to see. It has to make yourself feel better. You have to respect it.” —High Noon
2. Give the artist breathing room.
“Some people are stuck in their ways and don’t realize that some things don’t always work like they want them to. I think if you let the artist do what they’re good at and do their own interpretation, at the end of the day you’ll be very happy with the piece. We’re human beings, and if you’re constantly on top of us or trying to make us do certain things, it reflects in the work — you can see the stress in the work.” —Reese Hilburn
“When you find the artist you like, give them a general idea — let the artist that you choose come up with the concept. Generally, I love when people come to me and say something like, ‘I want a vampire sleeve’ and I’m like ‘cool,’ because I have so many different ideas on how that can look on the human body. Because ordinary people think of drawings on paper, which is a huge difference — so that’s where the trust factor comes in.” —Clint Cummings
3. But also be 100% OK with what’s going on your body forever.
“A lot of people go in and they don’t even look at books — a lot of tattoo artists are very good salesmen and can talk you into getting something and then you trust them and get something that you didn’t really want.” —Reese Hilburn
4. Be extra careful with text and famous symbols as tattoos.
“Most cover-ups are pretty challenging, just because you’re trying to put something over something else. It’s almost like Tetris; you gotta make sure all the pieces fit correctly. But for me, I think it’s anything that’s very recognizable, like stars or crosses.” —Reese Hilburn
“Words are always the hardest to cover up. They’re always strings of words, they always look like a sentence.” —Clint Cummings
5. And relax.
“Usually I hit [nervous clients] up with some water and a placebo because it’s almost always all in your brain. Your pain threshold is what you make of it. So a lot of the time the placebo effect works and that’s what I prefer to use rather than an actual numbing agent because that makes the ink react a little bit differently.” —High Noon