I got my first tattoo done in June 2009. It was pretty late for me as I wanted one for quite some time. But getting something done on your skin which is permanent - it takes guts. And there are many myths about tattoos especially when it comes to the pain part. Who would want to get a permanent design done on body and bear pain too? The thought itself is insane, or so says my mom at least.
One of the most important things you have to remember before getting a tattoo done is the selection of design or the words/phrase/name of the person and such. Since it's a permanent thing, it's utter foolish to get the name of your spouse tattooed. People these days get divorced at the age of 45 too. Imagine having the name of your divorced better half on your hand! Always be very practical and remember that nothing but a tattoo lasts forever!
Selecting a design you like, or you can associate yourself with is very much required. When you ask a girl what kind of a tattoo she wants, her first answer will be - I want a fairy/butterfly/star done. And 6 out of 10 girls will have at least one of these objects tattooed. Their imagination does not go beyond shoulder and ankle when asked about where they want a tattoo done. And last but not the least, their fixation for coloured tattoo. They want all bright colours in their tattoos. They forget that we Indians usually have wheatish complexion. Colours become dull/light after the tattoo settles down on our body. You need a flawless white skin tone to carry off coloured tattoos. Or select colours which do not have to remain bright to look dull - like maroon, green - which happens to be the basic colour of the ink.
After taking out all my frustration on the typical girly tattoos, coming back to the selection of design part - remember, this thing will stay on you forever. Get a tattoo done of such an object that you can relate to, or love (excluding lovers/husbands). Like your parents' name, face portrait of your child/sibling/yourself, a verse or phrase you swear by, a bird/animal you like - anything you know you will never hate or get bored of.
Then comes the shape and size of the object. This goes hand in hand with the place of tattoo. How big/small the tattoo is, placement of which also depends on its visibility to you. Some people prefer to have a tattoo on their back, so that others can see those even when they wear a slight low back gown. or on wrist, neck, face, ankle - these are the places where you can spot it easily. I have two tattoos so far, and both are on my upper arm. they are placed in such a manner that I can show/hide them whenever I want to. My profession does not allow me to have visible tattoos, thus this arrangement suits me quite a bit.
The most important part - the pain part. People, tattoos are done by machine that has a needle at its end. This needle pierces your skin, goes deep inside till the fourth layer of your skin, while the process happens, you tend to bleed too - thus it pains. I would not say that the pain is unbearable; otherwise you wouldn't have seen so many people getting their whole body inked. The pain is there, and you can bear it. Initial 5 odd minutes, you feel a lot of pain, then your body gets used to the sensation. Wherever there is a bone, it pains more, less where there is flesh.
After getting the tattoo done, the healing process is equally important. Remember, it's a wound. Your skin is pierced thousands times. The ink has gone deep in and it is settling down. You need to take care of it just like you take care of your wound. Wash it with an anti-bacterial soap, apply the gel recommended by your tattoo artist 3-4 times a day. Keep your tattoo clean, let it breathe and don't overdo anything - sunlight or hiding it behind covers.
A tattoo heals within 15 days. The first layer of skin peels off, and the fresh layer comes back - on the ink that has been pierced in. This results into a bit dull effect of the tattoo, as the colour of the tattoo has been settled on your skin. That's why it's important to select colours wisely if you want a coloured tattoo on Indian skin. Remember not to pull out the peeling skin, as it may result into embossed effect of the tattoo which doesn't look so neat. The skin will come off on its own. And your tattoo will be a part of your skin in a few days.
Ah, that's about it - the whole lecture on tattooing. I have been thinking about writing on this topic for quite some time, but somehow this post never took a shape. Finally I have written the whole damn post on tattooing. If you have any other questions about tattooing, google it.