My First Tattoo Experience

My first tattoo was a long time coming. I think it’s pretty normal to have parents that don’t approve of permanently inking your body. I mean, totally fair since they made it. My mom explicitly told me that she wouldn’t pay for my wedding if I got a tattoo before my big day. Honestly, that didn’t upset me at all. Her “threat” ensured I didn’t get something when I was younger that I couldn’t afford to pay for the best quality. Thanks, Mom!  

My friend Katie wrote an amazing blog post about her tattoo experience. Be sure to check it out! Now let’s get walk through my first tattoo experience. 


The “before” portion is the longest because I’m a planner/over-thinker/self-doubter. A tattoo is permanaent (DUH), so I had to be sure it was exactly what I wanted.

After a few months (years..?), I knew that I wanted a floral bundle. The style hunt started through Pinterest and I was able to get a better idea of what design type was most appealing to me. Early on, I knew that I didn’t want to get color, and I decided that shading wasn’t something I was super in to. From that, I decided clean, delicate line work was my number one priority. You also need to decide where you want it. I went for the inner bicep. It’s perfect because you can show it off when you’re waving your hands, reaching for things, or running your hands through your hair. But you can also hide it easily (read: Chicago winter)

With my priorities top of mind, I went to Instagram. I searched the geo tags of Chicago tattoo shops and went DEEP into the Chicago tattoo scene. I started saving work that was close to what I was looking for. My tip here is that it’s unlikely any artist will have done something exactly like what you have in mind, but that doesn’t mean they can’t. I had to keep in mind that tattoo artists are ARTISTS. If they have the baseline style you like, then you’re safe to assume the artist will be capable of getting your idea just right.

After you narrow in on the perfect artist, then you should reach out. Don’t send them a DM on Instagram as I found artists prefer you e-mail them. When you e-mail them I’d start with a compliment and then be very specific with what you want (size, shape, location). I even included an inspiration collage with my email to make sure the artist knew exactly what I had in mind.

Once you schedule the appointment you can schedule a drawing review for the day before or the day of. I decided to schedule something the day before to settle my nerves. The review was literally 5 minutes. The artist, Ricki Proper, showed me the design, and I told them I had a few changes and that was that.


I had no idea what a tattoo would feel like and I was terrified. I googled all the pain charts and asked every tattooed person I know to describe the feeling. Every tattoo feels different for different people. I wasn’t surprised, but I also wasn’t happy.

I brought my sister to the tattoo parlor for moral support (would recommend). Ricki was ready right when I got there. They put on the stencil to decide on the placement. Cue: doubt. As you can see, the tattoo is on my inner arm, but I had a second thought when they initially put the stencil on wanting to move it more front and center. Ricki gave me all the time I needed to decide, and I settled on following through with the initial plan.

Now that the stencil was placed in the perfect spot, it was time to get started. Like anything you haven’t experienced before, the anticipation is the worst part. Sure, it was uncomfortable, but it was totally manageable. The best description I heard was it feels like a cat scratching you. On the pain scale, I’d rather get a tattoo than have a headache. Just over 2 hours later and we were DONE!


I asked a lot of people what I should do after getting the tattoo. People gave me a lot of recommendations, but ultimately listened to the tattoo artist (as you should). They recommended Aquaphor.

I’m a big oldumby and ordered a massive tube of Aquaphor on Amazon after I got my tattoo. Apply a thin layer the following day for about 3 days, so I had to run to Walgreens only to find they sell these nice mini bottles for $3.

The tattoo didn’t keep hurting that night. It felt like a sunburn, of which, I’ve had plenty.

Some people’s tattoos get really itchy, but mine wasn’t too bad. Around day 4 it was itchy and a teeny tiny bit flaky. If this happens to you make sure you DON’T TOUCH IT. I patted mine when it was under a sleeve. The itchiness only lasted 2-3 days.

After about a week the tattoo was all healed. All I need to do is figure out what I want next.

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