I remember the moment the needle touched my skin for the first time. I was bare-chested, reclined on an uncomfortable leather chair. Even though my eyes were closed, I could feel the artist’s face getting closer to my body. My palms were sweating, and I clenched my jaw as I braced for impact. Then it happened. I felt the needle graze the skin on my chest. And just like that, I lost my tattoo virginity.
My first tattoo was my late grandfather’s name written in Kanji over my heart. It was a small piece, about three square inches. You wouldn’t know it was there unless I took my shirt off. However, my most recent tattoo was a half-sleeve — a large, visible piece covering my entire upper arm.
I noticed a few things after getting this larger piece. They’re not necessarily good or bad — they’re merely my observations. But I think they deserve a discussion, especially as it pertains to the decision-making process of getting a tattoo. These are the less-talked-about considerations you need to think about before getting your first big tattoo.
Get a tattoo for the right reasons.
Everyone has a reason for getting a tattoo. Not to disparage anyone, but I don’t think all reasons are created equal.
Since I’ve gotten my arm tattooed, I’ve had many great conversations with other tattooed individuals. Sometimes people compliment the tattoo. Sometimes they want to know the name of the artist. Other times, it’s a casual acknowledgement between two tattooed people — à la, Cool tattoo, bro.
However, I’ve also had some bizarre conversations where people compliment my tattoo and then share every detail of their own tattoos. Or they’ll criticize my tattoo choice, preaching that a half-sleeve is half-assed. Some have even explained to me why their tattoos are better than mine.
I’ve had enough strange conversations that I’ve observed a common behavioural trait amongst these people. It seems like their tattoos overpower their personality — in essence, they define themselves by the attention they receive from their tattoos. And when…