I would not recommend drinking too much before you go unless it is going to be a small tattoo. Getting a big tat or getting part of a big one done in a 4+ hour session can take a lot out of you. The first bit will go fast but once the booze wears off your going to be in hell.
Despite the myth alcohol will not thin your blood enough to make it more difficult for the artist. I good friend of mine is an artist and he routinely does tats out of his home (to good friends) and doesn't mind when they have a few drinks while the session is going on. A professional institution obviously does not allow drinking before or during so don't announce it.
I'd recommend having one or two drinks just to relax you or smoke a joint if you smoke weed. You will probably be pretty nervous.
I personally prefer large tattoos. Both have mine have been 10 hour tats. Getting a large design gives the artist a lot more ability to put in fine detail. A large tat is also a lot more recognizable so you won't have people asking "what's that tat?".
As my artist told me I think it is good advice to never ever get someones name tattooed on you unless it is "Mom" or one of your kids. Getting a wifes name....terrible idea. You know the stats hahah.
I like to put my designs on the background of my computer or print them out and hang them in places I look often. Looking at it several times a day really helps weed out the forever pics that you want on you forever.
Check out your artists portfolio and make sure what you want is something he is good at. My artist loves to do realism so that's what I give him. You want your artist to be excited about this tat. You want him to be inspired. Asking an artist who loves to draw Asian inspired or realism to do 6 hours of tribal isn't going to produce the best results.
Don't stress too much! The first tat is definitely the most stressful. "Is this the right design?", "do I want this forever", "will it look bad when I'm old?". You will probably get more tats, so don't stress if you can't decide between two amazing images. Get the other one next year! When you're old your going to be ugly and wrinkly. A tat won't change that.
edit: where are you getting your first tat? Some places, like ribs and collarbone, are incredibly painful, while places like the bicep are definitely a little better pain wise.
Lines feel like someone is cutting you, shading feels like someone rubbing sand paper on a sun burn.
Very much appreciated man. This is super helpful. I'm not sure how to go about it with an artist. My friend has quite a few and told me that it's important to listen to the artist.
I'm planning on getting a 3/4 sleeve on my left arm. I know some elements I want but I'm also a perfectionist, but I feel bad taking up people's time as well. So I don't want to spend an hour working out a design only to say well thanks and move on.
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