Choosing a tattoo can be stressful because basically it’s a permanent part of you. Making the wrong decision can be painful, costly, inconvenient and embarrassing to some degree.
There are so many varying factors to consider before making your final decision, including size, colour, meaning, style and placement of the design, your tattoo has to have a meaning to you, and a reason why you want it, at the end of the day a tattoo is an extension to yourself, your personality, your style, and your appearance.
Take your time and get plenty of information about tattoos, styles and designs you might want before choosing, monkey see monkey do is not the approach you want to take here. If you’ve looked at and picked your first tattoo without thinking too much about it then you’re doing it wrong, this could be the start of your mistake in choosing the wrong tattoo for you. Take your time, look at many tattoos in the style you want, the more you look at different tattoo's the more unique you can make yours.
If you’re in doubt, take a time out.
Consider the following when choosing your tattoo design
You can change and alter any design of a potential tattoo you find to base your tattoo around. You might only want a piece of a picture for a tattoo or your design can be made up from a number of individual designs to make yours more unique to you, or you might want to change the colour schemes.
Tattoo artists are there to draw for you if that’s what you want, don't be afraid to ask for help on creating a design, both of you can work together to get you vision on paper, and your artist can make suggestions and design ideas you may not have considered.
Your imagination has no ends, with a little input from your artist, other designs you have seen and many number of combinations that are possible to create a design that is perfect for you.
Consider how your tattoo could be perceived by other people. Will it offend anyone? Does your tattoo symbol mean something that can be received as offensive by others, or if that bothers you.
Using text in different languages can be misinterpreted, Not only might your idea of what a character might mean it could be completely wrong such as using Asian symbols for example, there might also be a double meaning or some other aspect to it. You may choose what you think are the symbols to love, life and prosperity in Chinese writing, when infract the symbols could mean sweet and sour with egg fried rice.
Make sure you research foreign languages and symbols before your session starts.
Think about the kind of tattoo or design you want, there are many different crazes and phases that come around today and are gone tomorrow, be careful in deciding if your just follow a fad that might not last. New trends maybe popular today, will it be popular in a few years or could it be something you may regret in the future.
The biggest tattoo mistake people make when having a tattoo that results in something that people want removed or covered up are names. Unless the name is of someone who has passed away or the name of your child, then names can cause problems in the future if circumstancies change.
The second biggest mistakes are homemade tattoos, the second biggest cover people ask for.
You might want to get a tattoo with another family member or a friend, a tattoo that matches each other’s or that go together like a little jigsaw. Unless you have a strong and long bond with that person then I suggest you consider the idea a bit more, if your relationship is on and off, or volatile then you could end up with half a tattoo if you fall out with each other.
Your tattoo doesn't have to have a deep meaning, but make sure your choice of tattoo is something you can live with for the rest of your life, as that’s how long it’s going to be there for, everyone has different likes and dislikes, different tastes and make different choices, but you can always remember that some tattoos can be covered over with another tattoo if you change your mind in years to come.
It could costs more in the long run to get foot, hand and face tattoos because they need more touch-ups as these are exposed to the elements more and are the most durable areas of skin, but your new ink might not be as durable as your skin in these areas and may require more time and attention to heal.
A good tattoo artists may advise you or refuse to do tattoos in these types of places, what you might see as a good idea today, might not seem like a good idea tomorrow, but tomorrow it’s too late.
If you feel hesitant about getting any tattoo for whatever the reason maybe, don't go through with it. Take time to think about it more, tattooing has been around thousands of years, I’m sure they will still be around when you have made your mind up.
Firstly ask yourself why you even want to have a tattoo in the first place. Do you want to have something you love printed in your skin forever? Are you doing it for someone else? Are you happy you're old enough to get a tattoo? Think about each reason why and why not. Be sure it’s the right decision for you and the reason why.
Ask yourself if a tattoo will affect you in the workplace and other similar situations and scenarios. It's most likely not worth losing a job over or being judged over when applying for new job because of your artwork is visible. Also see if there are rules against tattoos in other organizations you participate in, such as sports or volunteering work, or something thats in the public eye.
When choosing your design
Make sure the design has some meaning to you and that it is a reflection of yourself and who you are. Your design should represent something that you love, enjoy or are attached to. People have reasons for choosing certain designs, make sure you are happy with yours and the reason why.
Phrases and writings
Make sure you know and understand the meanings of the wording, their origins that you choose, If you're choosing a quote, make sure it represents you completely and that it has a purpose for you, choosing the right font is also an important choice to make as different typefaces create moods and feelings but also make sure it can be read and its clear.
There’s millions of tattoos and designs that exist already, you don't want to be restrict yourself to what's already out there, tattoos are pieces of art and should ideally be a one off design that is unique to yourself, copying someone else’s tattoo is fine but it’s just a copy of someone else. Take an original design and tweak it and add your own creativity to make it fresh and yours.
Inspire yourself and look at anything and everything that could be the foundations of your new tattoo, Check books, posters, stationary, stickers, films, TV, images on your search engines, and anything else out there, tattoo designs are what you make them or what your imagination can allow your artist make for you too.
Choosing where you want it
The placement on your body of your tattoo is very important decision to make. Do you want it to show every day or do you want it covered up most of the time for whatever reason, maybe think about the style of clothes you wear, how your hair is worn and the activities you participate in.
You could try getting a printout of your stencil design you are considering for your tattoo, and have your artist recreate the design on your skin temporarily for a day to help you decide if your placement suits you. There may be a small cost involved in this, but if you have doubts on where you want it that best suits you, then the small cost is worth it.
You might be able to get a henna tattoo of the design you're thinking of before you get the real thing, henna is more of a temporary tattoo that lasts about a week and up to a month, however though you won't be able to get the colours and exact detail of what you want, but you can get an idea of how it feels in a certain place at a certain size.
Choosing colour scheme, do you want your tattoo in black or greyscale? Do you want a full colour tattoo? Or specific coloured outlines or shading?
Creating the design
Be creative. Sometimes it just takes a little practice to draw your own design. You could use tracing paper to copy a design, and also to add to your design from a number of images, another consideration is your tattoo going to be part of a bigger tattoo in the future such as sleeves, back, shoulders ect, are you going to follow a specific theme, or a specific colour theme ect.
You don't have to create the design yourself but you need a good idea of what you want your tattoo to look like, you can ask a tattoo artist to do the design for you, but the more information you can give them and a description of what you want it to look like will make it as close to your vision you have in mind.
How big do you want this tattoo?
Don’t be afraid to take your time in choosing. The most important thing is that you’re happy with everything before the ink touches your skin, and then you’ll know you’ll be happy with the finished product.
Take as much time as possible, this is something I can’t stress enough.