Poor placement

There are two major types of poor tattoo placement. The obvious one is when you don’t think about the consequences of what you’re getting tattooed (like your face), but the other kind is more about design. If you know that you will eventually have a lot of tattoos or that you’ll want a sleeve someday, you have to carefully consider each tattoo with that end goal in mind. A poorly placed tattoo can make designing a cohesive sleeve extremely difficult later on.

Not researching the shop

Even if you don’t want to book a tattoo appointment with a premiere tattoo artist two years in advance, you still need to do some research before walking into a shop. Fortunately, this type of research is easy to do. When you go to a tattoo shop’s website—or if you drop into the studio in person—take a look at each artist’s portfolio. If you don’t like the work they’ve done previously, don’t expect them to give you a great tattoo. It’s also a good idea to check Yelp and Instagram to see what kind of feedback they’ve received.

It’s very important you understand a tattoo artist’s style. If their portfolio is filled with amazing American traditional tattoos but you want a watercolor design, it might not be a great match. Always ask your tattoo artist to draw preliminary sketches for you so you can see what their work is like before you get it permanently inked.


This is such a massive tattoo mistake that shops make you sign a waiver stating that you have not been drinking prior to getting your tattoo. Many make the mistake of drinking before getting tattooed in an effort to numb the expected pain, but all it really does is thin your blood and makes the experience a whole lot messier. Most people tend to bleed at some point during their tattoo session, especially if it’s a bigger piece. If you drink before your session, you will bleed more because your blood won’t clot like it’s supposed to.

Getting tattooed by someone you don’t like

Getting tattooed is an experience. You go through pain, you sit and talk, and little by little, something special is created. That is why it’s important to get a tattoo from someone you like. Even if you think you want to get a particularly well-known artist to do your tattoo, it won’t be a good experience if you don’t enjoy their company. A tattoo is a memory, and memories have meaning. If you dislike the person involved in a memory, it sours. Make sure yours is a pleasant tattoo experience.

Not being honest with the tattoo artist

If you’re a nice person, you probably aren’t comfortable telling someone when they’ve messed up or that something they’ve done isn’t good enough. Correcting a tattoo artist can feel especially weird because out of the two of you, they are the professional. But if your tattooer presents you with a sketch that isn’t what you had in mind, you need to tell them. Don’t let your misplaced sense of kindness result in a permanent mistake. If for some reason they react poorly to your constructive criticism, then they may have proven they’re not the tattoo artist for you.

Not communicating during the session

One of the biggest mistakes people make when getting a tattoo is not communicating with their artist during the session. If you’re feeling faint or like you need to take a break, don’t be afraid to tell your tattooer. If you think a certain part of the piece you’re getting could be improved, let them know. Just because you’re sitting down, doesn’t mean you have to be passive.

Wearing inappropriate clothing

No, they don’t care if you’re wearing a crop top or if you’re showing some cleavage. Actually, quite the opposite: When you go to get a tattoo, you need to make sure that whatever clothing you’re wearing won’t make contact with that area of skin. A fresh tattoo is an open wound, and you need to give it room to breathe. If you’re getting a tattoo on your foot, for instance, make sure you wear an open shoe.

Not thinking about aftercare

The biggest tattoo mistake of all is not taking proper care of your tattoo. Mess up the aftercare and you can mess up both the tattoo and possibly your health. Do not take a bath, dive into a pool, or swim in the ocean after you get a tattoo. Don’t sleep on your side if you just got your ribs tattooed. Clean it regularly, and listen to your tattoo artist’s instructions about which product to use for cleaning. Again, wear clothing that does not interfere with the healing of your tattoo.

Not tipping the tattooer

When you’re getting tattooed for the first time, you’re probably not sure what the proper etiquette is when it comes to tipping. To answer your question: Yes, you do need to tip your tattoo artist. How much you leave them is up to you, but $20 is a good minimum to live by. Obviously, if your tattoo artist has been working on your very intricate piece for five hours, you’ll want to tip them more.

Not thinking long-term

Make sure you don’t need to get a cover-up tattoo in the future. Don’t get your significant other’s name tattooed on your hand. And don’t go to such a low quality artist that you’ll be embarrassed by your body art. And please, for the love of ink, don’t let your friend tattoo you in their basement. Tattoos are lifelong investments: Make sure you think hard about what you’re getting.