Paperwork and Payment
Once you have decided on your tattoo design you will be required to show valid identification for proof of age. You may also be asked for your address and phone number, so your artist can contact you in the future if need be. In Payment must be made before services are rendered.
After your paperwork is filled out, you will be seated in the artists station. Your artist will do his or her best to make you comfortable for the tattoo you have chosen.
Prepping your Tattoo Area
Now it is time for the preparation. The area of your body you have chosen for your tattoo will be cleaned, usually with rubbing alcohol. Then, any hair will be removed from the area by shaving it with a new disposable razor which will be discarded after being used. Even the finest of hairs can get in the way and cause problems, so this is a crucial step, even if you can’t see any hairs. Then, the area will be cleaned again to make sure it is smooth and ready for the transfer.
Making and Applying the Stencil Transfer
Once your stencil is ready, it’s time to create the transfer onto your skin. These aid in making the design transfer better and darker onto your skin. When the paper is pulled away from your skin, it will leave you with a purple-ish blue likeness of your future tattoo!
Preparing the Tattoo Machine and Other Equipment
It is at this time that your artist will start preparing their tattoo machine. The inks will be placed in little tiny cups called “ink caps”, and the needles and tubes will be removed from their sterile pouches and placed in the machine. Clean, distilled water will be poured into a cup for cleaning the needles during the tattoo process and to change from one color to the next. Some A&D ointment or Vaseline will be placed on a clean surface for your use only.
Starting the Linework
Now it is time to get down to serious business! A little ointment will be placed over your transfer design for a few reasons. One is that it helps keep the transfer on longer without accidentally rubbing it off, and it also helps the needle to slide along the skin more smoothly, which is certainly going to be more comfortable to you! After the ointment is applied, it is time for the first line. If you’re nervous, don’t hold your breath. Some people have passed out during a tattoo, and trust me – it wasn’t the pain, it was the panic! Take a nice, slow, deep breath and try to relax. The first minute or so will the be roughest. After that, your skin will kind of get used to it and the pain will begin to subside.
Shading and Coloring
Once all the linework is done, your artist can breathe a little bit easier knowing that they won’t have to worry about the transfer anymore. Now it’s time to get creative with a little shading and possibly color. Depending on the size of your tattoo, your artist may switch to a different set of needles called magnums (or mags) which are designed for coloring and shading. They may even switch tattoo machines altogether. The shading and coloring can go along quite quickly, and before you know it…you’ve got a complete tattoo.
The Finished Tattoo
Your artist may like a picture of your tattoo for their portfolio. They’ll clean it up real good, and sometimes even apply a hot towel to it first. Then they’ll take a picture, and this is a good time for you to get a shot, too, if you brought a camera along. Taking a photo after the protective ointment is applied causes a glare, so it is best to do it now.
Dressing and Bandaging
Now that your tattoo is finished and clean, it needs to be treated just like a wound. A protective layer of ointment will be applied to the tattoo to prevent invasion of airborne bacteria that can cause infection. Then a bandage will be applied, and it will be taped up to make sure it is secure. It is important that you keep this bandage on for the amount of time your artist instructs, which brings us to our last step: aftercare.
Receiving Aftercare Instructions
Your artist will now give you aftercare instructions. It is important that you listen and follow the instructions you are given. From this point on, it is your responsibility to make sure your tattoo is well taken care of. The artist cannot be blamed if you get an infection because you didn’t follow directions.