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The Long And The Short Of It – The 10 Most Asked Questions About Tattoos

During our time in the industry we have heard many different questions regarding tattoos, some understandable, some that have been extremely bizarre, and some that are just ridiculous. Due to this we thought it was about time that we tried to answer some of the questions that most people tend to ask, or are curious about, so we have compiled our own list of the most commonly asked questions in our studio. Hopefully this will provide some answers to some of you and will also give a little more insight into what we do.

Let’s start at the beginning…….

1. How old do I have to be to get a tattoo?

Short answer: 18

Long answer: After the introduction of The Tattooing Minors Act in 1969 it became illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18. It is an offence that is punishable by law and the only exception to this rule is if a minor requires a medical tattoo and even then this is only to be carried out by a licenced medical practitioner.

2. Will it hurt?

Short answer: Yes

Long answer: This really isn’t a straight forward answer as everyone’s pain threshold is different and the level of pain will also be determined by the placement of the tattoo. At the end of the day a tattoo is performed by a needle piercing the skin and therefore you cannot expect it to be completely painless but, it is a bearable pain. If you think about how many people are being tattooed every day and how many of them go back for more tattoos you will realise that it really isn’t that bad. We have actually had clients refer to it as therapeutic and it has even been known for some to even fall asleep during their tattoo! At the end of the day a competent artist should make you feel relaxed and comfortable making it an enjoyable experience rather than a painful one. Below you can see a pain guide that may help you when choosing the placement for your tattoo but please remember that this is a generalisation and as previously stated everyone is different.

3. Will I bleed?

Short answer: No

Long answer: You should not bleed when getting a tattoo! The needles should not penetrate deep enough or cause enough trauma to your skin to make you bleed. Occasionally you may see some beading, or spotting, in an area that requires a lot of work but that is the full extent of it. Obviously there are some outside factors that will contribute to you possibly bleeding so you should be aware of these and try to avoid them. Alcohol, painkillers, and even caffeine can lead to thinning of the blood and make you bleed more easily. It is advised that alcohol should be avoided for 24 hours prior to a tattoo as this is the main, and most common, contributor. Bleeding needs to be avoided as this not only hinders the application process but will also cause problems with ink absorption and the overall healing process.

4. Can I be tattooed if I’ve been drinking?

Short answer: No

Long answer: As previously stated alcohol is best avoided 24 hours before the application of a tattoo as it can cause thinning of the blood but there are other reasons why it is not advisable to have a tattoo whilst under the influence. One reason being is that alcohol can vary your perception and you therefore may make bad choices. I think everybody knows someone who has made a mistake whilst drinking and then regrets it in the morning?! Most mistakes from a night out can be forgotten over time but a tattoo is permanent, it cannot be removed with soap and water and although it can be removed it is a very painful and expensive procedure. Another reason to avoid alcohol is due to the fact that it makes it very difficult for you to sit still, not a good move when you want your tattoo to have nice clean lines and even shade work. It also dehydrates you and can lower your sugar levels making it more likely for you to throw up, or even pass out. Most reputable artists will not tattoo someone who is obviously under the influence and will normally ask you to return to the studio the following day to make an appointment.

5. Will there be a design that I like?

Short answer: Yes

Long answer: When it comes to tattoos the choice of design is endless. If you come to a studio and you don’t have a specific design in mind already then speak to the artist. They have seen thousands of designs over the years and will have the knowledge to help you decide one. If you go to a tattoo artist, rather than a general tattooist, they will be able to discuss all your ideals with you and design you your own custom piece. There will always be options and your artists will work with you to find you something that you will like, in fact, love!

6. Can I have any tattoo I want?

Short answer: Yes

Long answer: Of course, you can have any tattoo that your heart desires but please listen to your artist. There are many fad tattoos out there and also a whole host of photoshopped images all over the internet so if your artist advises you against a certain tattoo then please take heed. If something will not work as a tattoo, or may look bad later in life, your artist should warn you of this factor and you should listen. Obviously the customer is always right and if you are insistent then the tattoo artist will normally do as you wish but if they do say no then trust me it is with good reason. No matter what your profession nobody likes to turn away money so please bear this in mind.

7. Can I have my old tattoo covered up?

Short answer: Yes

Long answer: Again this is a very difficult question to answer with a straight forward yes or no as each situation is different. Some tattoos are extremely difficult to cover due to scarring, depth of colour, and how fresh they are. For example if you went down to Joe Blogs Studio two days ago and you really don’t like your new tattoo and want it covered now then the answer will be no. You will have to wait for the original tattoo to heal first otherwise it may cause trauma to the skin which could cause scarring, problems with ink absorption, and an all-round bad cover up. Also with regards to scarring if your old tattoo is scarred in anyway and it is raised from the skin then this will also cause issues as no matter what you cover it with the texture of the scarring may cause the image to show through. Sometimes it may be better to divert the eye rather than proceed with a full cover-up. As previously stated in our last answer, listen to your artist! They know what they are talking about and at the end of the day it’s their reputation on the line if the cover-up looks bad! Book a proper consultation, show them your existing tattoo, and discuss your options.

8. Can you continue/complete a tattoo that has already been started?

Short answer: Yes

Long answer: Again this will depend on the existing piece. If your new artist feels that the standard of your current tattoo is not up to scratch they may actually refuse to touch it. If there is any scarring or bad workmanship the artist will feel compelled to say no. They will not jeopardise their reputation to complete your piece as they would not want to produce anything less than a 100% quality tattoo. Be prepared. You may love your existing tattoo but artists can be highly critical of another artists work and some artists actually refuse to do add ons, or cover-ups, and will only work on fresh skin.

9. Can you do a tattoo the same as my friends even if they had it done somewhere else?

Short answer: Yes

Long answer: If your friend has a tattoo of a heart outline on her ankle then yes, there is not much chance of variation on that but, if she has a feather or anything more complex, then the answer may be different. At the end of the day each artist has their own style and their own way of doing things so unless the same artist does both of your tattoos then you cannot guarantee them being identical. Obviously the new artist will try to match them as best they can but you may find that they will vary.

10. Are tattoos expensive?

Short answer: Yes

Long answer: As with most things in life, when it comes to tattoos you get what you pay for. There are variations to consider other than just the obvious though. Yes, you will be being charged not only for the set up costs, ie. inks, needles etc…, but you will be also paying for the artist’s time. The rate that an artist charges will depend on many things, their experience and competency levels, whether they are in high demand, and also the economic climate in which they are working. For example it is a known fact that tattoos in Norway are more expensive than in most other countries, as are their prices for clothing and housing, their cost of living is higher in general and therefore, so are their outgoings. All these factors need to be considered when asking for a price for a tattoo.

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