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Tattoos 101: What you need to know before getting inked, according to tattoo artists

By AYIE LICSI Published Jan 24, 2023 1:54 pm

As they always say after a rollercoaster of 365, "New year, new you."

Maybe you're looking for a big change this 2023 (something bigger than a new hairstyle) and you've got some new year courage to do something extra, like getting your first tattoo.

We never forget our firsts, and your first ink is part of this experience—especially since tattoos are pretty permanent. With that fact, it's important to do your research before putting any art that will be on your body for the rest of your life.

For those who aren't sure about what the whole process of getting a tattoo is like, PhilSTAR L!fe talked to some local tattoo artists to share their best tips with first-timers. 

"Don’t overthink your first one! It’s about finding the right artist that specializes in the kind of style you want and trusting their capabilities. You should also make sure you get enough rest and had a full meal before your tattoo appointment."

@gigiebear, Crimson River Tattoo

"Sleep and make sure to eat a heavy meal before your session! Avoid alcohol consumption 24 hours before the session as well. Make sure to get to know and research everything about your artist. Also, when it comes to the day of the appointment, make sure to let your artist know if your desired placement is correct. I know a lot of people are worried/shy about it, but better to let the artist know if there are any adjustments instead of regretting the tattoo after sesh!"


"Be sure about what you’re planning to get since tattoos are permanent. And just relax during the tattoo session. Trust your artist, they know what they’re doing. Also make sure you get proper rest before getting your tattoo, and don’t forget to eat and avoid alcohol consumption the night before."

@theuncannie, Crimson River Tattoo and Moonshark Tattoo

"Number one tip, ipa-tattoo mo kung ano talagang pinakagusto mo. Okay lang humingi ng discount sa artist, pero gauge mo lang kung hanggang saan pinaka-okay sa artist na presyo para solid talaga ‘yung gawa kasi forever na siya sa balat mo. 'Wag mo tipirin. Alamin mo rin bakit ka magpapa-tattoo—expression ba, aesthetic ba? Would it make you happy? Or wala lang? Kung wala lang okay lang din naman basta masaya ka. Wag ka rin mag overthink bago magpatattoo.

"Wag kang uminom at mag puyat day before magpa-tattoo para maganda ‘yung tanggap ng balat mo sa needle and ink. Check mo rin sched mo kasi kapag nagpatattoo ka depende sa size and design, may healing period. Bawal sobrang magpawis, maarawan, mag-swimming, etc.

"Solid din siguro to make sure na kung nakatira ka pa at nabubuhay ka sa means ng parents mo, na may permission ka."

@danielparingit, full-time recording artist at UMusic Philippines, tattoo hobbyist at Toothless Tattoo

"My biggest tip for people who are getting tattoos for the first time is to mindfully research the artist with the art style that resonates with their personality. Each tattoo artist has a forte when it comes to doing their craft on skin, so it would be best to look for the artist that has the exact style that you want. Another tip is to also look at the healed works of the artist to make sure that the tattoos look good once healed."

@inkedbyginnThe Woodstock Studio

"I always say this to my clients: do your share of research. Look up your artist and the studio; do you share the same values and vision? Would you feel comfortable working with your artist? Does their art style speak to you? Are they professionals, following safety standards? How’s the art etiquette? Consult with different artists and know their processes. these are among other points for reflection haha with regards to their tattoo, know more about your subject. More often than not, having a well-rounded knowledge of your subject helps with the art process (specifically the collaborative design work)."

- @sintaeloise, Siningtinta

How much will it hurt?

It will depend on your pain tolerance as it differs per person, but generally, the least painful places to get tattooed are those with the most fat like on your thigh, upper back, outer arm, outer thigh, forearm, and calves. Meanwhile, tattoos on bonier areas like your fingers, feet, armpits, head, ribs, and chest may hurt the most.


While your artist will run all of this down after your tattoo, there are some things that you won't be able to do after getting inked. For starters, a fresh tattoo is an open wound so you should wash it gently and avoid scratching or picking at it.

You shouldn't go swimming in a pool or the sea for two weeks after getting inked, and you should also avoid tight clothing in the first two weeks of healing.

Just make sure to listen to all the tips your artist gives you and get in touch with them if something doesn't feel right.