Deciding to get a tattoo is a serious commitment. Unlike purchasing a painting, tapestry or any other type of art, the choice to get inked involves more than just selecting the piece itself. Just as important as what the design looks like is where on your body it's going to go.
This seemingly simple decision can be influenced by any number of factors, from potential career impact to aesthetic preference to pain aversion. Before you head into the tattoo shop for your first appointment, you should have as clear an idea of where you want your tattoo as you do what your design is going to be. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Many people are drawn to feet for their first tattoo location for several reasons. For starters, the surface area of your foot is much smaller than that of your arm or back, so your choice of design is substantially reduced. For people who may be indecisive or not know what to choose, this can help them settle on a nice, small image to start off with. Additionally, getting inked on your foot means that you can cover it up fairly easily if you need to for work – just throw on a pair of shoes and socks and it's like it was never there. Some people also believe that the foot is a good first location because it will be less painful than other areas. As Bustle pointed out, this may or may not be true, depending on both the design and the person. While smaller designs and simple linework may be less painful, designs that require intricate shading are likely to smart just as much.
For someone who's never gotten a tattoo before, the prospect of getting inked on your wrist may seem intimidating. After all, unlike getting your foot inked, it's much more difficult to cover up your wrist if you have to. But there are a few reasons why this spot may not be as bad an idea for a tattoo virgin as you'd originally think. For starters, you can let your tattoo regret fears be assuaged – inner wrist tattoos have become somewhat en vogue over the past several years, with Hollywood actresses and other highly respected individuals choosing to show their ink in this spot. It's a great place for someone who wants to be able to show their tattoo off, but doesn't want something as conspicuous as a sleeve. What's more, the limited real estate offered by the wrist means that designs are necessarily going to be small and fairly undetailed, which is perfect for people who want classy, understated tattoos.
If you're thinking you may be in the market for something a bit bigger, but don't want to go all-out with something super visible, the shoulder blade is a great place to consider. Because your scapula and your back provide a much larger area – one of the biggest continuous spots on your entire body, in fact – your design options are virtually limitless, so you don't have to worry about shrinking your favorite symbol down. What's more, your shoulder blade will be covered the vast majority of the time, meaning that if you work at a job that's still not exactly tattoo-friendly you won't have a problem. Some people also prefer to get this area tattooed because of the thought that it will be less painful. While the broad, flat area of your shoulder blade may provide a relatively complication-free canvass for your artist, just keep in mind that the closer your get to your spine, the more you're going to feel it.
Where not to get tattooed
Just as important as knowing what spots to choose is knowing which spots to avoid. Many parts of the body are less than ideal candidates for being a tattoo canvass, whether it be for biological reasons, social acceptability or simply too high a pain threshold.
The guiding rule here is simple – the closer you are to bone, the more it's going to hurt. In general, you'll want to choose an area of your body that's got a fair bit of natural padding in the form of muscle and fat tissue. There's a reason spots such as the ribcage and spine are notorious for being particularly painful – there's very little standing in the way between the needle and the sensitive bone underneath.
You'll also want to take into account potential changes your body may go through. For example, women who are considering having children in the future may want to think about the fact that ink on their thighs or abdomens may not fare particularly well through the process of pregnancy, when the skin will stretch considerably.
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