So, you want a tattoo for whatever reason. You’ve been thinking about it for some time, although you have your doubts. Because of this you end up leaving it for “tomorrow” and tomorrow never comes (insert Ronan Keating song here). Been there myself, so today I’ll share everything you need to know about your first tattoo.

Tattooer prepping a stencil.Tattoo by Dongeko Tattooer, Photo by Tiago da Cunha.

Why do you wanna get tattooed?

That is your No1 Question. Because, you know, tattoos are forever. Like, for·ev·er. It is a constant representation of who you are, so really question yourself about why you want it and if you really want it.

Do you need a deep meaningful reason?

This is what I reply when I get asked about the meaning of my backpiece:
“I could hang it on my living room, but I chose to put it on my back.”

Some of them will have meaning, some of them won’t. Just know your why. You may like something, and that’s a good enough reason to get tattooed. Meaning shouldn’t be a mood killer. Don’t overthink.

Do you know what you want?

What do you like? What inspires you? Those are questions that can come handy when it comes to choose a tattoo. I’m a barber, so I’m very inspired by everything traditional although I was once a Graphic Designer (still am in a way) and therefore I also love illustration which is much more detailed.

Once you start thinking a bit more about what you want and get a feeling of who you are, you’ll start to get glimpses of the style that suits you best.

What’s your style of tattoo?

There are loads of different styles. Some may represent you better than others. Forget about the clothes you wear and think about you. You may be a metalhead and love anime. You may have a white-collar job and be fascinated by the macabre and the extreme. Find what you like and think about the style that better suits your needs.

Neo-Traditional tattoo examples.
Tattoos by Raco Tattoo.

Acknowledge the responsibility.

Tattoos are visible. At some point in your life, in a social situation or any other time, they will be seen. Unless it’s in your genitals (may your first tattoo be elsewhere, please), and even there, let’s say you have a problem in your testicle and the doctor starts to ask why do you have Pinocchio down there.

I’m pretty sure he will look at you in disgust if you say that, just like in the movie, the nose on your tatt grows (great idea by the way). You need to realize the consequences of what you’re getting to know if you can live with the judgement, whether it’s good or bad.

Ultimately, it’s about you, but you gotta live with it forever. Can you handle that?

Speaking of handling, is it going to hurt and is needle phobia a thing?

It definitely hurts, sometimes more, sometimes less. Everybody handles it differently. I always thought I would be the small tattoos kind of guy. I did a few lines without ink and thought I wouldn’t be able to hold that for more than an hour. But trust me, it’s bearable.

And needle phobia is not a thing. Tattooing is very different from an injection. It feels like its own thing. I don’t like needles as well, but never in my tattoo journey I thought about the fear, say “I’m freaking out” or even “I can’t handle this, it’s too painful”.

It’s actually the most beautiful pain you’ll ever feel.

Face expressing pain while getting tattooed.Photo by Tiago da Cunha.

Find an artist.

Once you got those questions out of the way, you need an artist. Reflect on the style because this is very important. Someone that is very specific in a certain style has a greater chance of being good at it so don’t choose the award winning realism guy to do an old school tattoo and vice versa.

Internet is a great search engine to find people with the particular style you like and whose work speaks to you more. Once you find your artists and you’re ready, get in touch.

Give them a guide line, not a manual.

Have your general ideas, talk to them about what you want, what colors you like and dislike if that’s the case, elements that you may want to include but let them be free. You’ve been following them for a reason and it’s not because their clients had a whole manual on how to do a certain piece.

Let them do their job because ultimately they’ll enjoy it more and the outcome will be better.

Respect the price rate.

I want a good tattoo, not a good deal!

You found an artist, he gives you a quote and you go nuts! You think it’s too much and can’t afford it. Perfectly fine, just don’t try to get a deal. That goes from having an opinion to being disrespectful.

Believe me, good deals usually end up against you. It will be on your body forever so focus on quality, even if it means saving up for a few months.

Be open with them, say you’ll need to save up to get the cash and will get in touch once you can. If not, just say you value the work but can’t afford the price at the moment. They will understand.

Good and bad realism examples.
Realism examples. Would you even risk it?


You’ve planned it, you’ve covered all aspects of it. Do not overthink. Trust your judgement and go through with it. It gets easier after the first one. They say it’s an addiction, and I’ll tell you why…Once you’ve done it, you think less about the tattoo and more about the blank space.

I hope you find this helpful so you can nail it when the time comes. Like everything in life, it’s not a bed of roses and you’ll question your choices along the way. The truth is, unlike any other thing you spend money on, this will actually become part of who you are. Skin deep. Isn’t that meaningful enough?

If you have any questions or would like to share your experiences, feel free to comment down below.

Featured Photo by Tiago da Cunha.


  1. Li os teu blog todo, muito bom! já adicionei o doc à minha lista do netflix. Continua o bom trabalho 🙂 Abraço

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