Getting Inked, The Smart Way

Student Gets Tattoo, Advises Others On The Smart Way To Get Tattoo


Photo by Kieren Garner

Senior Kieren Garner shows off new tattoo. Before turning 18, Garner decided she wanted to get a tattoo and went through a thought out process to make sure the work came out the way she wanted. To make sure others don’t make a mistake in rushing their tattoo, Garner offers advice through her own process.

Kieren Garner, Reporter

Turning 18 is what all teenagers look forward to. The day they can finally leave their adolescence behind and proclaim to the world that they are finally an adult. On their 18th birthday, many want to go and buy their first lottery ticket or open a bank account, but I wanted to sit in a tattoo shop and get stabbed thousands of times for an hour straight. 

Getting a tattoo is not as easy as simply waltzing into the nearest tattoo parlor and showing the artist what you want and expecting it to be perfect, nor is it the smart thing to do. And to make sure no one makes that dumb decision, I’m here to go through the smart tattoo process with you.

I had known for quite a while that I wanted a certain tattoo, one that was dedicated to my mom, sister and grandmother. At the beginning I was compelled to just go to whatever parlor popped up on Google first. Luckily, a few weeks before my birthday, I slowed myself down and decided to create a survey on Instagram asking which shops people liked. After looking at the responses, I reached out to those who had gotten tattoos at those certain places. 

Eventually, I fell upon a highly reviewed place in Red River Austin called True Blue Tattoo. I spent a couple of days looking at each artist and their portfolio, which you can click on after you select an artist. I was looking for someone who did a lot of fine line work, so I soon found Jose Palacios and after reviewing his portfolio and Instagram page, I knew he was the artist I wanted to do my work. 

On True Blue Tattoo’s website, I was able to find Palacios’ email, I sent a message asking all the necessary questions like cost and available appointments, knowing that for some artists, you could be scheduling a month or more out. That was not the case here though, I got a response within two days, and he sent daily emails to make sure we had everything in check so he could think in advance about the final tattoo design after I told him the basic idea I envisioned.

I was able to schedule an appointment on the day of birthday, and when I entered the parlor I was surprisingly not nervous. Knowing that you have heavily researched before putting something on your body forever really takes away a bunch of anxiety because you have already established a type of trust with your artist since you’re able to view their reviews and portfolio and previous work. True Blue Tattoo was clean, music was playing, the walls were covered in art and the vibe was everything you could hope for. It was a professional yet fun environment that made it easy to relax in. After a couple of minutes, I met my tattoo artist face to face and was given paperwork to fill out. When that was done, he set to work on my design. I wanted something completely original, and he wasn’t kidding when he said it would only take a couple of minutes to draw up. After about ten minutes we discussed the design and tweaked only a slight detail and a few minutes he was back with my design.

 One thing I learned that is important is that it is okay to advocate for what you want. Your tattoo artist is going to understand. What you get is going to be on your body forever, so it’s okay to make sure it’s your fantasy tattoo. As soon as I laid eyes on the design, I was absolutely in love with it. 

Palacios created the stencil and let me see where I liked it most on my body, I settled on my forearm. His working space was musical and full of art, I felt comfortable when I laid down and got ready to get it over with.

Right before he placed the needle on my arm was the only time I felt nervous. He made sure I was ready and relaxed, and then slowly started to work. I was so surprised at the amount of pain I was feeling, if you could even call it that. It felt like a constant cat scratch, stinging and sharp, but more uncomfortable than anything else. A few times the pain built a little, but never to the point where I wanted to stop. If you have a very low pain tolerance, I would definitely suggest getting a smaller tattoo, but as long as you breathe you’ll be fine. Within an hour it was over with, and I was already enamored with my new permanent accessory. 

After wrapping my arm, I was told to leave it wrapped for about five hours before taking it off and to begin to moisturize with Aquaphor daily so the tattoo could heal faster. My arm was only tender for a few days, and after moisturizing, I noticed the healing process speed up a noticeable amount. In only two weeks, I was healed and ready to show the world my beautiful new tattoo. 

This experience helped me realize that it is smart and rewarding to take time to really figure out where you want to get your tattoo done, and which artist you want to do it. While it may be a hassle, I promise the end result pays off.