I’ve always wanted tattoos, ever since I got older I always wanted a few. It took me quite a long time to decide on what I wanted my first tattoo to be. Some might say I’m crazy, but I went for a big thigh piece as my first tattoo.
A lot of people turned around and said to me “why don’t you get a small tattoo for your first one” or “are you crazy” and “that’s going to hurt you know.” And truth be known, they were probably right! A big tattoo was probably brave for my first one but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I got my first tattoo on Tuesday 7th November and the night before I really started to feel the nerves. Since my tattoo is on my thigh I had a nice bubble bath and shaved my legs. Most tattoo places you go to while shave the area of the tattoo for you but I thought it was easier to do it myself.
You shouldn’t drink alcohol 24 hours before your tattoo either because it thins your blood and it can cause you to bleed during your tattoo session. So stick to the soft drinks to prevent any excess bleeding.
I spent the last few weeks before my tattoo day researching thigh tattoos. I watched YouTube videos on people’s experiences, their thoughts and what they rated the pain. I found this really helpful because I wanted to hear the pro’s and con’s of them and I felt a lot more prepared. BUT do not listen to every single but of information every says. Everybody has a different pain threshold so some people will find it painful and others wont. Just listen to their advice on how to look after them and their experience in general.
But the most important advice I have is to research your tattooist. Don’t just go to your local tattoo studio and tell them what you want because the tattooist might not specialise in what you want. Some tattooist don’t specialise in any type of tattoo; some artists only do traditional tattoos or portraits or animals, etc. Find a tattooist that you love, that you could easily get to and go there. Don’t just settle for your local one – unless they do some incredible tattoos of course.
The morning came and I felt incredibly sick. I had it in my head that it was going to hurt so much and it was going to be unbearable pain. My boyfriend and I were both getting tattoos done so we went together, obviously. We decided to go to the local Wetherspoons near the tattoo studio and we filled our stomach’s with breakfast. I’d been speaking to Lauren from Treacle Tatts on YouTube and she’d recommended to eat as much as possible beforehand and during the day to keep your energy and sugar levels up. So, I had a full english breakfast with extra hash browns and Chris had a sausage sandwich with pancakes and maple syrup. To say we were full was an understatement.
After breakfast we found a WHSmith’s to grab some fizzy drinks and chocolate which we were recommended to bring to eat and drink throughout the day. Then we headed over to the tattoo studio and by this point I was incredibly nervous. We walked into the studio and I instantly felt a little bit relaxed. We had picked Panic Ink in Hitchin and our tattoo artist was James Lawrence, or Jimmy as he’s known (Instagram: @jimmypanic). We took a seat in the reception area of the studio and the tattoo artists were cleaning their stations like no tomorrow. They had a cleaner going round tidying the place up too so to see that they took hygiene very seriously was great.
Jimmy came over to us to greet us, see how we were doing and to show me the design he had drawn for me. I had Jimmy draw mine from scratch so the tattoo would be unique and exactly what I wanted – and he captured it beautifully. Whist he transferred the drawing onto the tracing/print paper he had us fill out medical consent forms to make sure we didn’t have any conditions they should know about and to find out if we were on any medication.
Once Jimmy had his station ready we went over and I sat in the chair and had my stencil put on my thigh. I got the opportunity to go and have a look in the full length mirror to check it looked ok and I was happy with the placement and all that jazz. I was incredibly happy and after chatting to me to calm me down slightly, we began…
In my head I’d built up this huge fear that it was going to really hurt throughout the entire tattoo, that I was going to be in pain for hours and I wouldn’t cope. Honestly? The pain was ok! It didn’t hurt too badly – it was more of an uncomfortable pain than a painful pain (if that makes any sense.) He started from the bottom of the tiger and worked upwards which was most comfortable because it’s easier to work your way up than down apparently.
Jimmy was switching the needles every now and again because different lines require different needles. The outline of the tiger was done by a thin needle which is ideal for creating those thin lines; whereas the shading is done with a thicker needle and doesn’t hurt as much. Some people argue that the shading it the most painful part, but I think the outlining was more painful despite being less of it!
After every hour we stopped to have a short 5 minute rest to give myself a chance to stand up, stretch my legs and have a drink. After each break you could really see the tattoo coming to life. It sounds so stupid but it’s amazing how much the detail makes a difference.
The bottom of my thigh and the left side of my thigh (outside) wasn’t too painful for me, it was more the tops of my thigh and towards the insides that were really uncomfortable. I did find myself flinching at times because it did catch me off guard and did hurt but not too much work is done there so it was okay.
It took Jimmy about 3 hours to do my tattoo which surprised me because it didn’t feel like it took that long at all. I went on my phone, chatted to Chris and Jimmy and before I knew it my tattoo was done! I didn’t think I’d be one to cry but I could have cried. I was over the moon with it (and still am obviously!) The detail he put into it is incredible and I couldn’t be happier with my first tattoo.
After I’d look at it properly he wrapped but my leg in cling film and instructed me to leave it on until I got home and could clean it with warm water. Chris and I were also told to be a tube of Bepanthen which is essentially nappy rash cream to apply two/three times a day.
It’s only been 4 days since I got my tattoo and the aftercare hasn’t been too bad. I haven’t worn anything besides pyjamas shorts or jumper dresses since getting it as anything restricting feels very uncomfortable. However, I’m now at the itching stage where I want to claw my leg off. Not too comfortable but all I keep thinking is that it’ll be worth it once it’s healed.
Does your tattoo have a meaning?
Yes it does! Tigers are my favourite animal, along with my Nan’s. My dad, and a few of my Uncle’s also have tiger tattoos – so for me, this is a tattoo to symbolise family. It’s the animal that I associate with my family and I’m proud to be part of the tiger club now!
Was the main better or worse than you were expecting?
As I said earlier, the pain was nothing like I expected. I thought it was going to be really bad and unbearable but it was more irritating than anything. The only parts that hurt were when the needle went closer to the inside of my thigh and the white ink at the end.
Do you have any regrets already?
I have absolutely no regrets! This tattoo really captures and symbolises what I wanted it too and I’m utterly obsessed with it.
How much did it cost?
Okay so it cost me £200 for my tattoo with a £50 deposit – which is amazing for what I had been quoted before by local tattoo artists. Some people say you do pay for the quality and should be willing to pay more but why pay excess money when you find an incredible artist with amazing prices?