Think, then ink

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While people get tattoos or piercings for many different reasons, many don’t often know what to consider when they first get a body modification.

The first things people should consider when getting a tattoo or piercing are “what” and “where.” Are you going with your average ear piercing, or do you want a lip piercing? Is that new tattoo going to be something meaningful or just something you like to look at?

“I’ve met so many people who regret their very first body modification, specifically because they didn’t think it through,” said Michael Taylor, a sophomore psychology major from Las Vegas.  

By thinking things through, you ensure you’re getting something you actually want. There’s no reason to be hasty when it comes to something that will potentially be on your body for the rest of your life.

“The best tattoo, at least for your first tattoo, is something that means something to you,” said Abraham Thompson, a local tattoo artist who owns Saints Ink Designs. “If it’s something with meaning, you generally won’t regret it later.”

After deciding what body modification fits you, you’ll need to find a shop. Going through a friend or getting it in a basement is a bad idea. Body modifications are art; get them done by an artist.

“Tattoo and piercing artists apprentice for years,” said Jessica Smith, a local aspiring artist who recently finished an apprenticeship at Ace’s Tattoo and Piercing Studio in Salt Lake City. “We become very good at our jobs. You wouldn’t trust someone who isn’t a doctor to fix a break in your bones; why would you trust someone else who isn’t trained to pierce or tattoo your skin?”

It may take you time to find a shop that’s right for you, and the shops may be expensive. These people do this for a living; if they aren’t any good, they lose customers. If that person doing cheap tattoos in a basement isn’t good, they don’t lose anything.

“I got my first tattoo in a basement,” said Victoria Keith, a freshman general education major from West Valley. “It turned out horrible. The artist made it look like something a two-year-old had done. They didn’t give me proper guidelines on how to care for a healing tattoo and it got infected. It cost me more to have it covered up than it would have to have it done in a shop.”

Now that you’re ready to get your tattoo or piercing, there are some major things you should do to ensure your body modification experience goes smoothly.

“People don’t realize how taxing, how exhausting getting a tattoo or piercing can be,” Smith said. “I’ve seen people vomit or even faint while getting a tattoo.”

Before you get your tattoo, drink plenty of fluids and eat something, just like you would when you’re donating plasma or blood. The food and fluids will keep you from getting dizzy or nauseous.

“The first time I got a tattoo, I got so dizzy that I ended up being sick,” said Kristina Miller, a freshman general education major from Salt Lake City. “It was so embarrassing, but my artist told me it happened quite often. Now I’ll eat something before going in and I always drink a ton of water.”

After getting your tattoo or piercing, your artist will give you an instruction sheet detailing everything you need to do while your body modification is healing. These instructions include how to clean it.

Tattoos take a couple of weeks to heal. They will scab over and the scabs will flake off. Your tattoo may be very itchy, but don’t scratch or pick at it. Clean your tattoo with non-scented soap and warm water, but do not submerge your tattoo for a couple of weeks.

“Every time you clean your tattoo you should put a light coating of Tattoo Goo on it,” Thompson said. “A&D also works. This will keep your tattoo moisturized. Once it’s started to fully heal, after about five days, you can start putting unscented lotion on it.”

Likewise, your piercing can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to heal. Clean them with saline solution. This can be purchased at the piercing studio or at almost any drugstore. Warm salt water also works to clean out piercings.

“Piercings generally get infected when people try to touch or change their piercing before it’s healed,” Smith said. “Do not touch or change your piercing until it is completely healed. A fresh piercing is exactly like an open wound, and you don’t want to expose it to bacteria.”

While getting a body modification can be intimidating at first, if you follow the after-care instructions and find a clean shop to get your body modification in, the product is generally worth the hard work you went through.

“Having a tattoo or piercing is amazing,” Taylor said. “You’ll love them forever if you take care of them correctly.”