A little while ago I made a post on my recent tattoo and this is the promised part two, where I’ll talk about who I went to, how it felt and the healing process. If you haven’t read part one yet, you can do here.
I got my tattoo a little over two weeks ago at a place called Black Heart Tattoo Studio (I’ll link to all their info down below). Where I live, as with everywhere, there are loads of tattoo parlours. I spoke a bit in part one about how careful I was at choosing a place so I won’t ramble on about why that is incredibly important. Black Heart isn’t super near to me, and at the time of booking because I was at uni so it was well out of my way compared to the ten odd tattoo places actually in my city. Luckily it so happened that the day I booked in for turned out to be while I was on Easter holidays. But even so, I would’ve gone to this place over anywhere else. They were recommended to me by countless people but most of all my cousin who has over ten tattoos by them, so I was pretty sure they were safe and hygienic.
One thing that stood out for me was when I went to book it, the guy (who ended up doing the tattoo as well) was so friendly. He made certain of what I wanted, how big, what font, where etc. and answered all my questions. Several other people I know have got tattoos by him and they all agree that he’s just incredibly friendly and makes you feel at ease.
Another thing that impressed me was the price. I know my tattoo is relatively small (only 7cm along) but I was willing to pay a bit extra for it done by somewhere I like, felt comfortable and trusted. The deposit (as you can see on my appointment card above) was £20 and I was told that overall the tattoo would come to about £40, though on the day it was £10 less than that. The fact they didn’t charge me £40 like they’d originally said (and would have been within their right to stick to) made me really respect them because it shows they’re not just in it for the money, and as a student, that extra tenner makes such a difference. It does for a lot of people.
On the day I took my best friend, who happened to know Matt (the artist), and she was bloody brilliant. She held my hand the whole time and, despite being about as nervous as I was, she kept me distracted and confident and I honestly think I would have backed out if it weren’t for her. I’m so glad I got it done and I wouldn’t have without her being with me that day, so I highly recommend you take a good friend!
The actual tattoo lasted about forty minutes. Matt sat me down, talked over what I wanted again, how big and where I wanted it. He made the stencil then we went through and he put the stencil on my arm, got me to look in the mirror, ask my friend whether it was the right placement, size, whether it was straight etc. I decided to move it a little further down my arm and he was happy to re-apply the transfer, then when that one was a little wonky he was absolutely fine to re-apply it again so I was 100% happy with it. The position of it was something I was a bit uncertain about until I got there, but he was great and I got the impression I could have had him move it fifty times before he got even slightly annoyed.
I won’t lie, the tattoo hurt. But as I said to my friend, I’ve done worse to myself and that’s what the tattoo was signifying, so I can easily sit through this. I definitely felt very brave afterwards, which is maybe a little silly. Some people have said getting a tattoo feels like getting an injection, and some say it feels like a cat scratch. Both of which, in my opinion, are the worst things ever (I’m scared of both cats and needles). So yes, it did hurt, and it was very similar to getting a constant series of injections (ouch) but it was bearable. I didn’t look through the process as I was a little worried that I might see it had gone wrong, or it might look bad at that specific moment and I’d freak out unnecessarily. So when I was told it was done I was pretty surprised – it felt like about half an hour, so not as long as it actually took. I think the main reason it went fast is because my friend kept me talking the whole time (another reason to take someone with you).
Afterwards Matt made me sit for a little while and I had some water, then he wrapped it with some cling film and talked me through the aftercare process and how it would heal. I also got given an information sheet but in all honesty I barely used it apart from to double-check stuff. He was very thorough about how it would heal, and that stopped me panicking a lot when, for example, the top layer starts to peel and it looks a little like the tattoo itself is coming off. Then I paid, my friend and I went to Tesco to get some sensitive soap and cream (I was recommended and used Carex soap and Bepanthen cream), and we went home. It hurt that day and the following couple of days, but not too much, and it’s understandable since y’know, you just got needled repeatedly in the arm. It just felt exactly like a bad bruise.
Overall I’d say the pain was about an 8/10 (but I have an appalling pain threshold), the actual tattoo place and service is definitely a 10/10 and I’m 9.9/10 happy with the final piece (in a different situation I may get it slightly bigger or slightly re-positioned).
Finally, a quick bit on the healing process. For the first week and a half the tattoo was peeling, so little flecks of black would come off when it was rubbed or when I washed it. This is slightly disconcerting, and doesn’t look super nice as some of the tattoo is kind of embossed and shiny, while some is smooth and matte. The main thing I was told was not to rush this process, not to scrub at it or pick at the peeling. It all came off easily when I washed it gently or just over time (like any cut when it’s healing). My tattoo is fully-healed now. I’m still washing it with sensitive soap and applying cream to it, but not as often – up until a few days ago I was washing it gently then applying cream twice or three times a day. I still make sure to avoid putting it in direct sunlight or under a heavy flow of water, but it doesn’t hurt if I knock it against something, it isn’t itchy and it doesn’t have the raised feel to it anymore. I think it’s healed so fast partly because it’s a small piece, and partly because I naturally have a fast-healing body (when I get ear piercings they sting for a couple hours then are the equivalent of fully-healed straight away).
I hope these couple posts have helped, or at least been interesting to read. I know I’m a bit of a wimp, and this is only my first tattoo so I’m by no means an expert. But it might be nice for some other newbies to have someone in the same boat as them if you’re looking to get your first bit of ink. I highly recommend anyone in the Hampshire/New Forest area visits Black Heart as they were all really friendly, and Matt is incredibly talented (my tat is simple, but his artwork/tattoo work is ridiculously beautiful). You can find them here on Facebook.
Happy tattooing everyone, and thanks for listening to my little journey!