5 things I didn’t realize about tattoos until I got some


5 things I didn’t realize about tattoos until I got some

I’ve had tattoos on the brain lately. I know that’s a little off topic for my usual blog content (sorrynotsorry) but I figure hey, it’s not a huge leap from decorating your face temporarily with makeup to decorating yourself permanent with ink, right? Anyway, a few weeks ago I finally had the last session on my half sleeve, which has been in the works for over a year now(!) and that’s why it’s kind of been on my mind. Even though I got my first tattoo when I was maybe 19, it’s only in the past few years that I’ve started to get large, visible-from-a-distance ink. Boy let me tell you, that’s been a game changer – and even though I’m completely in love with my artwork, there are some things I didn’t realize until I got it. Here, learn from my experiences.

People will touch you without asking

I mean, it’s not constant, but the number of people who’ve just grabbed my arm while I was walking through the grocery store or decided to pet my owl (that sounds like a euphemism for something, doesn’t it?) is really surprising. I imagine this is how it is for ladies with pregnant bellies. I can kind of understand the reasoning behind it, but it’s still weird and not ok.

Tattoos are a great ice breaker

Kind of goes along with the first one – expect random people to ask where you got your tattoos done. Or better yet, what they mean. I always feel bad when I have to be like “I dunno, I thought a mechanical owl would look pretty sweet.” No deep story here, move along citizen. Other repetitive questions you will get: did it hurt, how long did it take, and how much did it cost? Sometimes I feel like I should wear a sign that says ‘yes’ for the first one, and ‘I stopped counting’ for the others. On the other hand, it makes for great small talk when you’re awkwardly standing alone in a long line. Plus I really like the opportunity to talk up my favorite artists and hopefully send some business their way. (Pssst – you should totally read to the end for more pictures & links to their instagrams/websites)

You might get shaved

When you actually go to the shop for the tattoo, I mean. Obviously a smooth surface is best to work on, so your artist will want to get rid of any hair, even the baby-fine stuff. Most seem to use the single-blade disposables – which I don’t blame them, razors are stupid expensive. I’m really prone to ingrown hairs and need to exfoliate after shaving, so I’ve started to do it the day before or morning of the appointment.

Ink is a foreign substance in your body and always will be

I mean, obviously I knew that going in (duh) and I was actually a little worried that I might have an allergic reaction to the ink since I’m allergic to basically everything. So far no big issues, but I’m skipping red ink just in case since it seems that one’s the most common color for allergic reactions. I was not, however, prepared for the fact that every once in a while the black outlines on my healed tattoos (ones I’ve had for years) will randomly swell a little and get itchy. I’m not sure if that’s related to allergies/autoimmune stuff or if it’s just a thing that happens to everyone sometimes. My internet research has never uncovered a definitive reason for it, but it usually only lasts a few minutes and hasn’t actually affected how the tattoos look. I’ve therefore decided that it’s ok and I’m probably not dying.

You get what you pay for

Seriously, research your artist first. Out of all the things you have to consider – quality of their work, whether their style matches what you want, appointment availability, etc – cost is way down the list of things that should be a deciding factor. After all, this will be on you foreeeeever. (I’m ignoring laser removal here because it’s expensive, painful and doesn’t always work completely.) Luckily I only learned that lesson the hard way once – the stars on my leg have kind of fuzzy outlines, and spots where the color pulled out because the ‘artist’ was too heavy handed and it bled/scabbed more than it should have. So instead of just paying to have it done right the first time, at some point in the future I’ll also be paying again to get it covered up. Fortunately it’s pretty small. After that I wised up and a) saved up for the artist I wanted and/or b) broke it up into different sessions a few months apart.


Speaking of which – here are a few artists I’ve been to and highly recommend checking out (and I do not have any sort of affiliate relationship with any of them, though if I had a nickel for every time someone asked where I got my tattoos done it would probably pay for hours of work!). They’re all extremely professional, friendly and talented!


Tattoo by Wes Meek, Lexington, KY

Wes Meek (Charmed Life Tattoo, Lexington, KY)


Tattoo by Allie Sider, Chicago

Allie Sider (Logan Square Tattoo, Chicago, IL – I got mine done when he was at Code of Conduct)


Tattoo by Cats at 2Spirit

Cats (2Spirit Tattoo, Los Angeles, CA – though they were in San Francisco when I got mine)










  1. Kiss & Make-up

    January 22, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Your tattoos look great! I’d love to get a tattoo. A whole sleeve, actually. But I’m a pussy so it’ll probably never happen. My thoughts/fear keep getting in the way…

    1. Nikki

      January 22, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks! It’s definitely a big decision – I started off with smaller ones that are usually hidden by my clothes anyway. At first I was reallllly worried about how much it would hurt, but it’s really not that bad – especially for small ones that are finished before the adrenaline wears off!

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