Marco_piunti / Getty Images So you're thinking about getting your first tattoo, but have no idea where to start. ABC Getting a tattoo for the first time can be nerve-racking and exciting all at once, especially if you don't know what to expect. Yuryrumovsky / Getty Images Over the last few years I've gotten 12 tattoos, and I already plan on getting more in the near future. Michele Bird / BuzzFeed Let's just say tattoos are a little addicting. I definitely know what it's like to be new to the tattoo process, so here's a guide of everything you should keep in mind before you head to the shop to get inked. Solstock / Getty Images 1. Take some time to really think about your design. Harpo While there are ways to remove or cover up unwanted tattoos, you should never rush into a design. At the end of the day this is a permanent piece of art on your body. Choose something that you love and will be happy with down the line. 2. Experimenting with semi-permanent tattoos, which last 8-18 days and often look legit, will give you a better idea of what a real tattoo might look like. View this photo on Instagram @inkbox / Via instagram.com InkBox has some great designs to get you started, with prices ranging from $16-$30. 3. Do research to find the perfect tattoo artist for you. VH1 One of the best ways to find a tattoo artist is by scrolling through Instagram where you can see their recent work. You can also stop by shops to check out their portfolio in person. That way you can see if the artist's style is what you're looking for. 4. If there's a specific tattoo artist you want to work with, pre-book an appointment rather than chancing your luck as a walk-in. Oat_phawat / Getty Images 5. But above all, research the shop you'll be tatted at to make sure it's clean and has good reviews. Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images Having a clean, sanitized environment is one of the most important things to look for prior to getting inked. The shop should be as clean as your doctor's office. If something feels off, it's better to find another shop than take your chances. 6. Set money aside for your tattoo because quality work is never cheap. Sergey Nazarov / Getty Images Depending on your artist and the size/detail of your tattoo, you could be spending hundreds for your ink. Tattoos aren't something that you want to scrimp or bargain on, especially since spending more on the initial piece is better than having to pay for a removal or cover-up later. 7. If you do book an appointment, be prepared to pay a deposit beforehand. Dobok / Getty Images Deposits generally go toward the final cost of your tattoo and will hold your spot with your tattoo artist. 8. Make sure to tip your artist at the end of your session. Agrobacter / Getty Images While tips are not required, getting a tattoo is a service much like getting a haircut or getting served at a restaurant. If you think your artist did a good job on your piece, it doesn't hurt to throw an extra tip on top of your pre-discussed price. 9. Be aware of your pain tolerance when deciding where to get your tattoo. Charlesknox / Getty Images Some parts of your body, like the ribcage or the foot, are more sensitive than others. 10. Book a consultation appointment with your tattoo artist to talk over your design idea. Yakobchukolena / Getty Images Try to be as descriptive as possible when communicating with your tattoo artist about what type of design you want. And be sure to voice any questions or concerns you might have going into the appointment. 11. On the day of your appointment, avoid bringing your entire squad along with you because it can be distracting to your artist. Disobeyart / Getty Images 12. Don't forget to eat a full meal and hydrate before getting inked so you're prepared to sit through your appointment rather than potentially passing out. Lechatnoir / Getty Images Keeping your blood sugar up is key to ensure you have a smooth tattoo session. 13. And don't get intoxicated before getting your tattoo. Tap to play or pause GIF Tap to play or pause GIF Tap to play or pause GIF Tap to play or pause GIF NBC Drinking alcohol prior to getting your tattoo is a no-no because it thins your blood and can lead to more bleeding during your session, making it difficult for the ink to set. 14. Before your artist begins, make sure the tattoo needle is brand new and opened in front of you. Itakdalee / Getty Images Tattoo ink should also be placed in disposable ink caps. Both of these things are extremely important to ensure everything is clean and sanitized. 15. Familiarize yourself with aftercare instructions for tattoos, especially those given to you by your artist. Dimid_86 / Getty Images You can use products like Saniderm, Aquaphor, A&D Ointment, and Lubriderm to assist with the healing process. 16. Don't plan to go swimming or sunbathing while your tattoo is healing to avoid any possible complications. Nicoelnino / Getty Images Your tattoo is essentially an open wound, so going into oceans or lakes can lead to bacteria exposure and leave your ink infected. Avoiding sun exposure will also help to ensure the longevity of your tattoo. 17. Finally, if you're having second thoughts on a tattoo, chances are you probably shouldn't get it. Tap to play or pause GIF Tap to play or pause GIF Tap to play or pause GIF Tap to play or pause GIF New Line Cinema Go back to the drawing board and rethink your idea before heading to the shop next.