By Julien Sauvalle
Photography by Ryan Pfluger
So, bad boy, you’re finally getting inked. May we offer some pointers? Chances are you’ve already chosen a design (if it’s a Chinese character or your lover’s name, please reconsider) and a location (nope, a tramp stamp still isn’t cool), but you should also pick a tattooist whose work speaks to you. We asked Ashley Love, permanent tattoo artist at NY Adorned in New York City, for some tips.
“There isn’t much to do to prepare for a tattoo,” Love says. “Make sure you get enough sleep before, and eat a full meal to keep your blood sugar high. Wait if you have a sunburn, because your skin will peel and make the stencil come off — a disaster for the artist.” Also, opt for loose, easy, but appropriate clothing. “Wear a tank top if you’re getting your shoulder done.”
NO PAIN, NO GAIN
Newsflash: It’s gonna hurt, so get over it. “Getting tattooed isn’t fun, but it won’t be the worst pain you’ll ever experience, either,” says Love. “It’s often compared to a cat scratch, a bad sunburn, or a sharp pencil dragging against your skin. It’s more aggravating than straight-up painful.
After the artwork is done, Love recommends leaving the bandage on for at least three hours: “Some people like to wear it overnight to avoid ink stains on their sheets, but make sure you don’t keep it on for more than 12 hours. If the bandage sticks to your skin when you try to remove it, run it under warm water, peel it off gently, and clean it with antibacterial soap.”
For the next three days, wash your tattoo two times a day and then apply a thin layer of ointment (Aquaphor is a safe bet). After three days, switch to a fragrancefree moisturizing lotion, keeping the routine up for 2–3 weeks until the tattoo settles.
NEXT: TATTOO DOs AND DON'Ts