10 important things to consider before getting a tattoo or piercing
Have you ever been out in public and come across somebody with a truly horrendous tattoo or piercing? Something so ugly or illegible that you found yourself questioning how it even came to be a permanent feature of someone's body? It happens - and much more often than it should.
As somebody with a number of body modifications, I know a thing or two about tattoos and piercings. Some of them I had to learn the hard way, and some of them are really just common sense - but all of them are worth reading through if you're considering altering your body somehow.
1. Pain is inevitable
Sticking needles in your skin is obviously going to smart a little bit, but as long as you know your own tolerance levels, you'll be fine. Just don't try to tough-out an eight-hour tattoo in a single session if it's going to cause you to pass out. It's not worth it.
2. Placement is everything
A nipple piercing is going to sting more than an earlobe, and a large rib tattoo will hurt more than a little bit of tribal on your bicep. In a similar vein, certain designs will look better on particular body parts. Geometric designs typically look better on flatter areas of the body, for instance.
3. Be sure of your design
If you're getting a tattoo, it's going to stay there forever, and if you're getting a piercing, it's likely to leave a scar even if you take it out. With this in mind, ask yourself: will I still like this in a year? What about 10 years? Would you be able to explain it to a stranger without being embarrassed? Oh, and most importantly - check your spelling, people!
4. Listen to the person doing your body mod
Tattooers and body piercers have gone through a ton of training and practice to get to where they are. If they tell you that your piercing is going to look wonky, or your tattoo placement is a bad idea, take their advice. I'd recommend staying on their good side, too. It's not a wise idea to annoy someone whose job it is to stick pointy things in people.
5. Look after your tattoos/piercings
Body modifications are essentially wounds, and they need caring for just like any other scratch or scrape. When the tattoo or piercing is healing, keep it clean and follow the artist's advice on how to take care of it. Even once they've healed up, body mods will need some upkeep to ensure they stay looking perfect - so take this into careful consideration when you make your decision.
6. Be prepared to pay big bucks
Tattoos are like cars: the more you're willing to spend, the better the model you'll get. The same principle applies to piercings - you wouldn't go to a friend for surgery, so don't go to them for any other invasive procedure. It's not worth saving a few dollars if it results in you getting a design or a piercing that you hate. Good art comes at a price.
7. Don't steal designs
This one applies more to tattoos than piercings, but it's useful to consider. When picking a tattoo, classic images like skulls or roses are obviously fair game, but don't ask for an exact copy of someone else's unique design. It's disrespectful to whoever has the original, and a decent tattooer would refuse to copy another artist's work anyway.
8. Consider the consequences
Tattoos or piercings on your face, neck or hands may prevent you from working in certain industries - so think before you ink. You'll also need to accept the possibility that you might end up hating your design in 20 years. If you can do that, go ahead.
9. Have some common sense
Don't get your partner's name tattooed on your face if you've only been together for two weeks. Just don't.
10. Above all else, remember that your body belongs to you
Yes, this sort of contradicts some of the other points - but it still needs mentioning. Don't feel pressured into getting or not getting something because of somebody else's decision; the choice should be yours, and yours alone.
So, if you've read through all this and you're still set on getting some work done, go for it! Just don't blame someone else if you end up hating what you get.