A few myths to dispel: getting tattooed is not as painful as many suspect, although it may be uncomfortable, depending on its placement on the body Some parts of the body may be naturally more sensitive than others (i.e. any 'bony' area, compared to any 'fleshy' area) Having said that, there is no body part 'better' than any other for a tattoo Ultimately it depends on both individual taste and the extent to which you are willing to be public with your tattoo, although reputable tat-tooists will Tefuse to do hands or faces Irrational fear is the worst pam-tngger of all Reaction to pain varies enormously from one individual to the next Hence, you must be aware of your own pain threshold and be adequately prepared If you know you aTe prone to fainting at the sight of needles or blood you may want to take some precautions since tattooing includes both of these However, this does NOT mean taking drugs of any sort, including alcohol, since by altering your perception these will make the experience even worse, rather than helping you to relax. Instead, aim to be in a good mood. Devote some time to preparing yourself and your body for this unique experience. Acknowledge pain as a new sensation to feel, rather than something to fear and avoid. Pain comes in waves. Try to 'surf’ them. The more accept ing you are of pain, the more you will be able to embrace it, become pne with it and feel elation rather than distress. Tattooing is very much a collaborative process between you and your tattooist. He or she knows which parts of the body are bound to be more uncomfortable and will have the expertise to put you at ease. Listen carefully to his or her advice on the matter and trust it.


Always follow your tattpoist's recommendations. Generally a new tattoo should be bandaged for at least one hour and for no longer than eight hours. Do not Tebandage it. Wash it gently in warm running water and mild soap after removing the bandage. Do not scrub. Do not use a washcloth. Make sure you get all blood, products and ointments off the tattoo. Pat dry with a dean towel, or better, whenever possible, allow it to air dry. Apply a small amount of unscented dye-free quality moisturizer, enough to prevent your tattoo from drying out. Gently rub it in, at least twice a day until the tattoo has healed (approximately nine to fourteen days) Do not pick ot scratch any scabs Do not swim (in either salt or chlorinated water), sunbathe or soak the tattooed area. Do keep it clean and free from dust, paint, cement and oil (including sun oil) Most importantly: do not scratch! Your tattoo will itch as it heals, but you must allow the scabs to flake off in their own time. Wear loose clothing that allows your tattoo to breathe, but does not rub against it. If you suspect the tattoo is becoming infected, inform the tattooist and consult a doctor. The healing process depends on your own care and responsibility. Be kind to yourself and always follow your tattooist's instructions.


Tattooing is perfectly safe if proper sterilization and infection control standards are followed: anything that comes in contact with blood or bodily fluids must either be disposed of (single-use)1 or sterilized, (autoclaved). Look carefully at the appearance of the studio and ask questions. Is the studio clean and professional-looking? Does it have a licence from the local Department of Health? Any health-service environment, including a tattooing studio, in which contact with blood and bodily fluids is possible, must have certification Is theTe an autoclave? ATe the needles and other items single-use? What kind of disinfectants are used? A professional and responsible studio takes pride in its health and safety procedures and will happily answer all your questions.


Check the studio and the staff. Are they polite and presentable? Doyou feel comfortable there? A tattoo artist should be helpful, answer your questions honestly and put you at ease. Check that he or she is a member of any professional organizations. Reputable tattooists are devoted to maintaining high standards of tattooing, to celebrating it as an art form and to protecting the industry. Ask how long they have been tattooing and have a look at photos of their work, flash drawings and other art. A good artist's work is always his or her best advertisement! Ask about their training and their drawing skills. If you go for custom work you want to choose an artist you feel comfortable with and who will collaborate with you in drawing up the perfect tattoo that fits your body and your vision.


The cost should never dictate the choice of artist or design. Think how many other purchases you are likely to make in a lifetime that will be with you, actually becoming you, forever. In fact, cost should be a minor factor in your decision. If you take price as a governing criteria it is better to wait and avoid disappointment. You will have the tattoo a lot longer than the tattooist will have the money and a tattoo that you are happy with is priceless.

A Final Word of Advice

Tattoos are not meant for everyone. Getting a tattoo is a personal decision that you will live with for the rest of your life, so make sure you research your design well and then find a good artist whom you trust to do the work. Go and see as many artists as you like. It is your tattoo. It is your body. It is forever.