5 Tips for a Terrific Tattoo

Photo (cc) by crschmidt

In 2003, a Harris poll revealed that 16 percent of American adults had at least one tattoo. In the Great Recession year of 2008, Harris conducted the same poll – and found the number had dropped to 14 percent. Last week, Harris released its 2012 version of the poll and found the number has now jumped to 21 percent.

Could tattoos be the next leading economic indicator?

The poll didn’t offer any insight into why tattoos are more popular now than ever. Maybe it’s reality shows like Miami Ink. Or maybe a younger generation is just more accepting. But whatever the reason, more people are getting skin art. And surprisingly, Harris says, “Women are slightly more likely than men, for the first time since this question was asked, to have a tattoo (now 23 percent versus 19 percent).”

I’m a woman with a couple of tattoos: a tiny sun on my big toe and a rather large koi fish on my lower back (insert bad joke here). I’ve also had a poorly done tattoo covered up – making me one of the 14 percent of adults who told Harris that they regretted getting at least one of their tattoos.

Since I’ve been under the ink gun three times, I can tell you there’s a right way and a wrong way to get a tattoo. Here’s the right way…

1. Select a design

When choosing a tattoo, most people either select one from the tattoo artist’s catalog or design their own. Personally, I’ve designed one of my own, and had the artist design the other for me – after all, who wants to walk around with the same tattoo other people have?

Best of all, it costs no more to bring in your own design or ask for help from a pro. But here’s what does cost more: Larger designs, or those with a lot of detail and several colors.

That shouldn’t persuade you to get something cheap, however. Get a design you didn’t really want and you’ll probably end up spending way more having it removed or altered later. (More on that below.) Instead, tell the tattoo artist how much you’d like to spend, then ask him or her to alter the design to fit the price.

2. Find an artist

Tattoo artists rent booths in tattoo parlors – much like stylists in hair salons. They pay rent and can (mostly) charge whatever rate they want, either by the hour or by the piece.

Because of that freedom, prices for the same tattoo can vary wildly even in the same city. And don’t forget that this is a skill – some tattoo artists are better than others. So price isn’t the only consideration.

That’s a lesson I learned the hard way.

For my first tattoo 11 years ago, I had picked the cheapest artist at the cheapest tattoo parlor. I paid less than $50 and got a slightly off-center, crooked Egyptian eye. A year later, I paid another artist $480 for a custom-made design to cover that first mistake – the koi. It’s been 10 years, and I still love the tattoo. (You can see the eye in the fish if you look close enough.)

You don’t need to use the most expensive tattoo artist you can find, but don’t base your decision on pricing either. Ask to see samples of the artist’s work before you decide. And be wary of anyone willing to do a tattoo for free. New artists often do free ink to build their sample catalog. Don’t be a newbie’s guinea pig.

3. Find a tattoo parlor

The tattoo parlor itself is just as important as the tattoo artist, especially if you’re at all concerned about your health. While the FDA doesn’t regulate tattoo ink, they do warn people of other potential dangers. According to U.S. News

The FDA warns about the risk of tattoo parlors transmitting viruses like HIV and the cancer-causing hepatitis C. Because of this, blood banks typically ban donations from people who have been tattooed in the previous 12 months. The FDA also warns patients that if they have an MRI scan, their tattoos can swell or burn, presumably related to the metal in some inks.

Tattoo parlors can greatly reduce the risk of health complications by properly sterilizing their equipment, banning the use of homemade ink, and requiring fresh needles. And you can greatly reduce your risk of suffering expensive and painful health problems by asking the tattoo parlor to show you their sterilization process. Don’t be shy about that – if they do a good job, they’ll be happy to prove it.

4. Living with a tattoo

Clearly, I have no problem with tattoos, but some people will. In the Harris poll mentioned above, 45 percent of those polled said people with tattoos seemed less sexy – and 50 percent said people with tattoos were more likely to be rebellious.

What does that mean for you? While public image is getting better, it’s not perfect, especially when it comes to dating and work life. If you’re still dating, your new tattoo may be a turn-off to some potential mates. And according to a CareerBuilder study we cited in Are Tattoos at Work OK? Advice for the Inked, having tattoos may hurt your chances of landing a promotion.

I’d suggest getting your new tattoo in an area you can easily cover, or choosing a smaller design. It may not be fair, but how many CEOs or high-profile lawyers do you know with a dragon tattoo on their neck?

5. Removing a tattoo

Thanks to laser surgery, tattoos aren’t forever anymore, but that doesn’t mean you should take the decision to get inked lightly. According to the Chicago Tribune, laser tattoo removal can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 – and won’t be covered by your health insurance.

You may end up paying $500 for a good tattoo only to pay another $1,000 to remove it later, so be sure to be sure about what and where before you head to the tattoo parlor.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free
27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free

When you know the tricks, you can save big on all kinds of useful things that others pay for.

5 Ways to Save at Dollar Tree
5 Ways to Save at Dollar Tree

Yes, it’s possible to pay less than a buck for items from a dollar store.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online
Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

8 Ways to Slash Your Internet Bill
8 Ways to Slash Your Internet Bill

No matter what price you are paying for internet service, taking these simple steps can lower it.

9 Purchases That Will Make You More Productive
9 Purchases That Will Make You More Productive

These Amazon products can give you an extra edge at work and other parts of your life.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

12 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
12 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.