So I got a tattoo yesterday. To some people, this may be extremely surprising that I got a tattoo at all. To others, it may be extremely surprising that I actually pulled the trigger & went through with it. No, this was not some super spontaneous decision to permanently mark my body–a lot of people don’t know I’ve been thinking about this for about a year and half & finally made a solid decision to do it about two weeks ago. Regardless, I can honestly say that I’m ridiculously happy I did it & I’m actually obsessed with the whole experience and how it all turned out.
Beyond that, I was overwhelmed by the amount of support I got from my friends when they saw the final product on social media. I also got a lot of questions about the process & how I’m feeling about it, so I wanted to dedicate a post about my tattoo experience and some things to consider if you’re contemplating getting one too. Enjoy!
What did you get & what does it mean?
I got an ampersand (&) as seen above. Yes, obviously this is the name of my blog, but it means a lot more to me than that. The reason I wanted it (and frankly why I named my blog Ampersand) is what the & symbol represents: a broken infinity signifying that nothing lasts forever but there’s always an and. Situations change. Things end. But life goes on. For me, at this time in my life, that truly resonates with me. Now I have a constant reminder that yes, nothing is permanent, but there’s always more to the story.
How did you decide you wanted one? What made you go through with it?
Like I said above, I’ve toyed around with the idea of a tattoo for about a year and a half. It wasn’t until recently that I saw a girl at yoga with a very simple tattoo that I started becoming serious about it. Also reflecting on where I am in my life & wanting to do something empowering for myself to make me feel strong and beautiful kind of solidified the thought. What really sealed the deal was when I mentioned it to my sister & hearing that she wanted to get one too–that’s when we decided to go together in the near future. #sisterbonding
Did you pick a specific day in advance/make an appointment?
Sorta haha Krista and I were talking for about two weeks about seriously going and eventually I decided I didn’t want to wait anymore. The morning of, I texted Krista “it’s tattoo day!!” and told my roomie, Haley, I was going…which led her to deciding she wanted to pull the trigger on getting her tattoo that she had been thinking about for a while too & we invited our friend, Sam, who also wanted to get her second tattoo. It was kind of like planned spontaneity–we had all seriously thought about getting a tattoo but the actual day we went was spontaneous.
What’s the process like?
Honestly, amazing. We just walked into a tattoo parlor (that we had researched/got recommendations for prior to) and told the artist that we all wanted tattoos. He drew up the designs, explained the whole process & created an outline on my body so I could approve it before he started. The entire ordeal lasted about 3.5 hours (since there were four of us) and he had to clean everything/reset the space each time (which was obviously important). I was hella nervous but also ridiculously excited. It’s just like one huge adrenaline rush. Plus it was awesome to experience it with my good friends & sister–we were all very supportive of each other!
Did it hurt? How long does it take?
I mean, yea, I’m not going to lie! It hurts a little bit. Also your ribs is one of the most sensitive spots and notoriously known for being painful. Yet, with all that said, it didn’t hurt as much as I expected. It feels like pinching. Mine took the longest (about 5 minutes–we all got super small designs) but Haley’s was done in less than a minute. Of course, how long it takes to complete depends on your design, but they tell you how long they expect it to take before they start.
How did your parents react?
Ha. My sister and I decided to tell our parents after we got them done (easier to ask for forgiveness than permission right?). Our dad laughed and made sure the place we went was clean/professional. Our mom was pretty shocked, but I think she’s coming around ;) Telling your parents/significant other/friends is totally a personal decision, but most people are supportive as long it’s something you’re 100% sure about.
How much did it cost?
$100 for everything + tip. Easiest $100 I’ve ever spent–what you pay for is what you get. Tattoos are not something you should try to find a bargain on!
How do you feel a day later? Any regrets? Do you want more?
I’m elated. I think I was beaming for a full 24 hours. I just want to look at it all the time. Zero regrets. As for more, I’m still trying to get used to one tattoo before I can think about getting another one!
So if you’re even remotely considering getting a tattoo (it’s a HUGE decision!), here are a few things to consider/general advice based on my personal experience:
- You gotta be 100% sure. It is PERMANENT. It’s going to be there forever. You have to be absolutely positive what you want, where you want it & if you’ll want it 70 years from now. You’ll have it forever so there’s no need to rush into it.
- Look up designs & be clear of exactly what you want. This is your body. Your tattoo should look exactly how you want it too. I googled lots of pictures of Ampersand tattoos and brought them to the shop with me. And then while the artist was designing it, I was very vocal about the font I wanted, size, etc. It will NOT offend the artist. They want you to be completely satisfied with it, so speak up! That said, trust the artist, too. They are the experts. For example, I had to get mine a smidge bigger than I had expected because the artist said he didn’t want the loops to close in on themselves as it healed–advice I genuinely appreciated and something I hadn’t even considered.
- Don’t drink beforehand. It’s tempting to want to take a few shots to take the edge off, but don’t do it. A lot of artists tell you drinking is a bad idea because it thins your blood (which may make everything more painful) & most places won’t tattoo you if you’re visibly drunk. Besides, I’m so happy I was dead sober because I really wanted to soak it all in.
- It needs to be C L E A N. This is a non-negotiable. The last thing you want is an infected tattoo. Do you research, ask around, get recommendations. And if you get there and it feels off/not clean/not professional, leave. There are plenty of high quality tattoo parlors.
- Ask questions! Our tattoo artist, Mike, was the absolute best. He explained the entire process and answered all of our questions. The whole process is extremely interesting, and, again, it is your body, so you should understand what’s happening to it.
- Follow your care instructions to the T. Depending on what you get/where you go, you may get different care instructions but follow them exactly how the artist explains it to you. Tattoos have to heal & you don’t want to mess them up. Just put in the work for the first few weeks (it’s honestly nothing terribly tedious) and you’ll be golden.
- Breathe & enjoy it. Just breathe. You’ll be nervous, but that’s okay. Overall, it’s an extremely rewarding, empowering and unique experience that you’ll want to remember in full detail.
Hopes this answers any of your lingering questions about getting a tattoo! Of course, leave me a comment or reach out if you want to chat more about it. Here’s to getting tatted & all the ampersands. &.
“THIS. This is bridging the gap between loving what you live for and living out what you love.” –Francis on my tattoo