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First Tattoo – Advice? Shop Around!

So I had been wanting to get a tattoo since I was 17 or so, but I didn't want to rush into getting something that didn't have some sort of lasting meaning in my life. Around my 19th birthday I came up with a design I liked of a tenor saxophone placed over black and white checkers (I'm a big fan of ska music, both modern and going back all the way to Jamaica in the 60's). I've been playing saxophone since I was 10 and it has become not only my main hobby but the focus of my college degree and career goal (I want to be a music teacher) so I knew that this would be something I could be proud to have on my skin throughout my life. Now just a precursor, when my first thoughts of getting a tattoo came about I made a rule for myself. Whether it is a tattoo, piercing, etc. I told myself that if I came up with a specific idea and still liked it and wanted to go through with it a year later, then I would allow myself to do it.

A little bit after my 20th birthday I was looking at the design and I still really liked it, so I decided to go ahead and do it. I spoke with a coworker of mine who was pretty heavily inked, and he said he got most of his work done by a guy (can't remember his name, maybe Jamie?) at a new place in town called Alley Tats. He had previously worked for another place in town, and moved to Alley Tats when they opened up. Me and my roommates walked down there one night, and spoke with him about the design I wanted, looked at some of his portfolio stuff, and decided to go ahead and do it. He said to come back the next night at 7 and we'd get it going.

So the next night rolls around, I got something to eat and got there about 6:45. The artist (I'm gonna stick with Jamie for ease of storytelling, although it might not be his actual name...) was working on a fairly large tattoo of the pabst logo on someone when we got there, and said we might wanna walk around downtown for a while until he's finished, or we could just hang out there. Since we had already looked through their photos and such the day before, and they were a fairly new studio (only a few months in that spot) they didn't have much else to look at, we left and went into a few stores, coming back around 8. To my unfortunate surprise he was still working on the PBR tattoo, and informed me that Robert (the owner) would be willing to do the tattoo for me if that was ok. I said it would be fine, and he had me sit down and started getting everything together. The shop was obviously very clean, and one would hope you wouldn't have to mention this, but he used new ster ile needles and new gloves etc. He placed the outline on my right shoulder, and the placement looked good so we got started. I was actually surprised at the pain not being as severe as I expected. Don't get me wrong, it hurt, but when you think about the mechanics of what's going on, it didn't hurt as much as a needle being repeatedly shoved into my skin should have.

I don't really remember how long it took, it couldn't have been longer than an hour or so. He told me the basic aftercare stuff, don't pick at the scabs, don't tan your arm, don't use scented lotion and so on, and wrapped it up for me. It didn't take all that long to heal up, I remember it hurting for about 12 hours and the next day it was fine, I could sleep on my arm without any issues and it only bled a little bit the first two hours or so.

Looking back on it two years later, I am somewhat unhappy with how the whole experience went. I didn't check in with any other shops before deciding on Alley Tats. I based that on a good recommendation from my coworker, but then when the artist he recommended passed the tattoo onto someone else, I didn't even think twice, I just went with it. I felt like Jamie was kind of writing me off as a customer that didn't matter, which even if that is how he felt, it's not right to make a paying customer feel that way. When Robert finished the tattoo it wasn't as deep of a black as I expected, and he said that I would have to come back in to get it touched up in order for it to look the way I wanted, which if I had known more about tattoos I would have known that that shouldn't be the case. All in all, I wish I would have shopped around and spoken to some other artists. I plan on getting it touched up by a different artist in a different studio and get some color added to it when I can afford it. I like my tattoo, and I don't regret it at all, but I'll like it more when I can get it "finished."

Don't do what I did, shop around and make sure you're absolutely comfortable with the artist you choose to go with. You can always back out and look elsewhere, but you can't take back your skin to try again. I got lucky that I still ended up with a tattoo that I enjoy despite not being informed and in charge of the situation.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 29 Dec. 2009
in Tattoos

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Studio: Alley+Tats
Location: Chico%2C+cA

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