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To ink or not to ink: Should your first tattoo have a deep meaning?

By AYIE LICSI Published Jan 25, 2023 6:43 pm

After a long while of wanting tattoos, I finally decided to get one last year. However, it wasn't as quick a decision as I imagined. For some time, I contemplated the first tattoo I was going to get—I already had a few on my mind and wanted my first one to be special.

Do I get one of something from my childhood? Winnie the Pooh was a big part of my upbringing so I thought of making this character I loved all my life a part of me. But as a writer, I've always wanted to get words that resonated with me most inked on my skin, maybe I should do that for my first tattoo?

I got neither.

Instead, I went with something more random, but still just as meaningful to who I am: an icon from one of my favorite games, Life is Strange. In the end, I sort of went with the aesthetic criteria, but I chose the art because it represented the main hero's time travel powers as well as how actions have consequences.

When the day came to get my tattoo, I chatted with @theuncannie of Crimson River and Moonshark Tattoo, the artist who did my first ink, about firsts and she shared how her first one eventually got covered up even if it's meaningful. 

"I've encountered clients who would make their first tattoo meaningful and eventually just get tattoos because they like the way it looks or the aesthetic of it. My first tattoo was meaningful to me but eventually, I also got it covered up," she told PhilSTAR L!fe.

The question about meaning pops up with tattoos as they become a permanent part of you with stories to tell, giving glimpses of who you are—especially your first one. But tattoos are art, (and it depends on who you ask,) and art doesn't necessarily have to have meaning. They can just look cool.

Reading between the lines

L!fe asked tattoo artists' take on whether your first tattoo should have meaning, for those who are still on the fence about what they should get for their first.

Eloise of Siningtinta posed a more significant sentiment to think about for those getting a tattoo for the first time: Tattoos can mean differently to people. "I think the more important question would always be ‘Is this (to get tattoos) a fully informed decision?’"

"With or without, [your first tattoo] should be special for you! It's best to get a custom design and not get ones posted on the internet so it’s unique and it’s 100% yours. ♥️," @gigiebear of Crimson River Tattoo said.

"Admittedly, this used to be my thinking before I got my first tattoo, but to be very honest, I think it doesn't matter anymore," apprentice @pokenijena shared. "I don't think it has to mean something to you, but as long as it makes you feel any form of emotion, it's definitely okay!"

"I used to think that all of my tattoos should be personal and should have a really deep meaning just for me to be able to justify why I got it. Now, whenever I just feel like I love the design and how it's beautifully made, then I'd definitely have it on my skin! Though it's very understandable for a lot of people for their firsts have a deep meaning, you shouldn't feel too pressured about it! After all, it's your tattoo, and you should be the one who should be the happiest when you see/have it on your skin."

"Personally, I think tattoos don’t always have to have deep meanings but you should carefully think about what you’ll put on your skin before you get inked since it’s a permanent thing. Also, it doesn’t have to necessarily be so deep as long as in that moment, the design you’ll choose is how you want to express yourself, that would be fine," shared @inkedbyginn.

For musician Daniel Paringit, who does tattoos as a hobby at Toothless Tattoo, whatever you get should make you happy.

"Hindi kailangang laging may ibig-sabihin ang tattoo. Basta masaya ka! G na agad! Let’s go! Pero mag tira ka rin siguro ng space para sa mga tattoo na may meaning."

So if you're looking for a sign to get that first tattoo, here it is. Don't overthink it too much!