7. Think Long and Hard About Getting Certain Places on Your Body Tattooed. Tattoo placement is key for many reasons, but as a good rule of thumb, it's probably best for most people to avoid getting tattoos on their face, neck or hands. In the past, a lot of tattoo artists wouldn't ink a person on any of those locations, but judging from what I've seen in recent years, that old rule must've been relaxed. I see a lot of people with neck and hand tattoos, specifically. That's pretty hardcore, and a person considering a tattoo in one of those places should think seriously about his or her lifestyle and future expectations. Having a tattoo of any kind might earn a person a certain amount of scorn from some people; having one on your face is going to get you a lot more flak. Unless you're making a living as a cool outsider of some sort -- a successful musician or artist, maybe -- then a face tattoo might make getting a "normal job" difficult. Something to think about before getting Yosemite Sam needled across your forehead.
6. They're Permanent. Always Remember That.
This is obvious, but tattoos should be considered a permanent body modification. Yes, there are procedures to get them removed, but they can be painful and expensive. So before you get a tattoo, it's just best to realize that whatever you get is going to be part of you forever, unless you get it covered later by another tattoo or removed with a laser. And from what I understand, laser removal isn't a perfect process.
Some people are fine with permanence. My own tattoos have become a part of who I am and a marker of times and places in my past. I value them for those reasons as much as I do as a form of self-expression or art. Other people just aren't wired in a way that makes them good candidates for a tattoo. A person who flits from idea to idea and trend to trend should probably think more deeply about getting one, because once a tattoo is on a person, it's not going to be easy to get rid of it, if he decides it's not for him.
5. Don't Get One on Impulse.
This is another of those "It should be obvious" rules of thumb, but suddenly deciding to get a tattoo, any tattoo, after a night of drinking with your buddies is a recipe for regret. Yeah, that piece of "Taz" flash hanging on the tattoo parlor's wall might seem like a great idea at 2 a.m. after a few rounds of Jäger shots, but when your buddies at work see it on your arm, you'll never hear the end of it. I've also always questioned the wisdom of people who want a tattoo really badly but don't have any idea what they want to get. Yet they head on over to the tattoo shop as if they're picking out a shirt to buy. Some things should be a little better thought out.
4. Don't Bargain Shop.
There's a time and a place to hunt for a killer deal and to save money. Having a permanent form of body art inked into your skin is not that time. The best tattoo artists have spent years honing their craft, and, understandably, they don't work for next to nothing. The artist who did a lot of my early work in the mid '90s charged about $200 an hour at that time and had a six-month waiting list. It was worth the money and the wait. Going to a tattoo shop that advertises $20 tattoos, or freebies of some kind? That's not a good plan. Ditto on some friend of a friend who operates out of his apartment and will work for free while he gets experience. Would you go to a dentist who worked under those types of conditions? Yeah, no thanks. Quality work isn't cheap, and cheap work isn't quality. It's also a good idea to find an artist who specializes in the type of tattoo that a person wants, and the customer should expect to pay a decent amount for that specialized work.
Haggling with a tattoo artist is also rude and is not going to do anyone any favors. I've met people who seem to think it's ridiculous for a tattoo artist to expect more than pocket change in payment for permanent body art, but have no problem spending $1,500 on a TV they won't own in ten years. Priorities.