This is Part Two in our 10 part series looking at the process of getting a tattoo for the first time. In this article we discuss placement and how to decide where your new tattoo is to be put on your body.
If you haven’t read Part One about choosing a tattoo style you should go back and do that first. Because you will need to know what style you want, before you try and decide where you want it on your body. The style of tattoo you want will have a significant bearing on its placement.
For example a micro tattoo will look simply ridiculous on a bicep. And a large detailed Japanese Koi simply won’t fit on a knuckle. You need to have a good idea of the tattoo style you want, it’s color palate and its included stylistic cues, before you decide on placement.
Yet for those people that do know their style and roughly what tattoo they want, the question then turns to where it should be put on the body.
How to decide on tattoo placement?
Size is a major factor in placement. Small tattoos on large surfaces look out of place. And large tattoos don’t fit on smaller parts of the body.
Size is the primary consideration when deciding on the location for a tattoo. Because the size of the tattoo will limit the available locations where the tattoo can be applied.
Some online tattoo guides suggest that the second most important factor that should be taken into consideration, is the level of pain you’re comfortable with. And they might argue that the armpit or elbow are too painful for a first tattoo.
But everybody has a different threshold for pain. And pain can be overcome with various tattoo numbing products. Instead of pain, your second most important factor in deciding on where to get a tattoo should be where you’re comfortable having a tattoo.
You may not want your tattoo to be visible. Or you might want it to be highly visible. And you should decide on whether or not you want other people to see your new tattoo.
I would add however, that it’s a terrible idea to get a tattoo on your face, neck or hands as a first time tattoo client. As these spots will be highly visible and you will get noticed. They can affect your career prospects and direction in life.
Face, neck and hand placements can also affect your work prospects, relationships and lifestyle.
Save any tattoo ideas you may have for your hands, face or neck until you’re already heavily tattooed everywhere else first. And then decide if you still want them.
With that said the third most important factor in placement is the level of detail and skill of the artist.
A large and highly detailed tattoo can be shrunk or expanded within reason. Provided that the artist is capable and the style allows for it. Removing or adding details will allow the size of the tattoo to be adjusted.
So once you’ve removed from your list all the placements that the tattoo you want simply can’t be put due to its size and the detail you absolutely want included; and have removed all of the placements you simply don’t want a tattoo due to visuals (what others see or don’t see); look at how much adjustment to the tattoos size can be accommodated by your artist.
Seeing how much adjustment to a tattoo can be made is done in discussions with the artist. And we discuss in detail how to pick an artist in Part Four of this series. But for now you should have a short list of spots where you’d want the tattoo to go.
When you get to the artist you should know 2-3 potential spots for placement of the tattoo, the style you want and a rough idea of the color scheme.
And once you know the tattoo style and artists limitations, the areas with the right sizing and where your comfortable wearing your new tattoo you’re well on the road to getting your first tattoo.
Yet I will add one further consideration. One that I never thought about when I got my first tattoo. Choose a spot that allows for future tattoos. As you will likely want a second tattoo. And probably a third tattoo too!
Now that you know the style and placements you’d be happy with we can start to get to the fun part. Choosing a shop and an artist.