So you want to get a tattoo… now what?

When you have a few tattoos, people tend to ask you about them quite regularly. In fact, the questions I probably get asked more than anything else are: How did you know for certain what you wanted followed by where should I go get a tattoo?

Yesterday, my memories on Facebook reminded me that it has been a year since my shoulder tattoo. I honestly can’t believe it has been a year already while simultaneously only having been a year since! If I look back on my life a year ago it’s crazy how much has changed. Firstly, we no longer live in the same country. We don’t do the same jobs, have the same hobbies etc… Things are very different. The one thing that will probably always stay the same for me is my collecting of inked pictures on my body.

They say tattoos are addictive – yes they are! To be honest, I think taking that first step to get the first one is probably the hardest part of getting a tattoo. Once you get the first one and you realise that yes, it is sore but it’s worth it, you are totally okay with going back again and again. I don’t think I will ever stop.

My mother in law came to visit us three months after we had landed in New Zealand and she asked me if I’ve found a hair salon yet because it’s important for women to have a good stylist. My response was “no but I’ve found a tattoo place” because THAT is my priority. I knew where I was going to be getting my new tattoos before I even landed in Wellington. Choosing an artist is pretty important.

It can be so intimidating

I know that walking into a tattoo shop can be scary as fuck! There are all these “uber cool” people working there and they ooze this attitude that says you’re less than me. I’ve been to various tattoo places and the atmosphere can be quite scary. Until you realise that actually, they’re just people like you are and you’re totally transferring your own issues and insecurities onto people who are actually just really nice.

My last tattoo place was owned by the nicest couple – it was super chilled! The one before that was super commercial and my “regular” artist was full of attitude and made being tattooed terrifying because they all gossiped and moaned about the tattoo industry the ENTIRE time I was there, every time so going there wasn’t the most pleasant experience.

What do I look for when choosing a tattoo place?

Absolutely hands down most important is the ARTIST!

When you’re looking for an artist, you have to know what STYLE the artist specialises in. If you want something old school, look for an artist with experience doing old school tattoos.

Don’t choose an artist who does tribal tattoos all day long because they won’t be the kind of artist you need. You need to get your tattoo done by the person who best suits your needs.

You should NEVER ever EVER choose your artist based on the price they charge. I don’t care if you can’t afford anything other than Mike who tattoos from his living room. Mike is NOT your guy unless Mike is a professional! Price should NEVER be the determining factor. Rather plan YEARS ahead for it, save up the money and get it done by someone genuine and skilled and clean with a good reputation. If an artist tattoos with a home made machine and ink he got out a pen then RUN! RUN THE FUCK IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION!

ALWAYS make sure the artist you choose is professional and knows what they’re doing and most importantly, that their shit is hygienic! Needles should NEVER be boiled clean. Do not ever let them use an old needle on you.

I feel like I’m stating the obvious but I once saw tattoos being done at an airshow, in the dust and dirt and the needles were being cleaned on the barbecue. This is NOT how it’s done! You don’t want to fuck with the hygiene of your needles.

How do you know WHAT to get?

Do my tattoos have to have meaning?

This is another thing that pops up regularly – what do my tattoos mean and how did I know for sure I wanted them on me forever and don’t I get tired of them and do I regret my tattoos.

I have various tattoos. Some of them have meaning and some of them don’t. Honestly, I’m not precious about it. I don’t overthink it. I used to get annoyed when people asked me about their meaning but I’m older and don’t mind anymore. I get that people are curious or intrigued. Often it’s because they have always wanted one but never had the courage.

I have never regretted a single tattoo. I don’t see myself regretting them as I get older either as I seem to be actively getting more as I get older.

I have covered one up though – my first tattoo was a lizard. It was boring, it was rebellious and I chose it off the wall. I didn’t regret getting it but later on, I got a back piece and I needed the space so it had to go.

I choose my tattoos based on how I’m feeling at the time, what I’m into and what makes me happy. I am certainly not the same person that I was when I got a hanged man tattooed on me, but I love my tattoos. They tell the story of my life. My journey – a journey that I am really proud of.

So no, they don’t have to have meaning but if they do, that’s cool. It’s forever though so do what feels right to you. Don’t get something you think you will regret or get it knowing you’re stuck with it for life unless you get a cover up. Go with what your heart tells you is right!

I’ve always been really hesitant about visible tattoos

I’m very professional and my career is really important to me. I know that no matter how good you are at your job, people will judge you based on how you look and so I’ve always steered away from visible tattoos. However, I’m just at the age now where I don’t care what people think. This is me.

I know that I will probably have to prove myself more than someone without tattoos but it’s a price I’m willing and happy to live with. My tattoos are a part of who I am and who I am is a successful and capable person so people who don’t see that will just have to deal. I do still cover them up for job interviews and big meetings. They are a part of me and I am awesome 😉

So my advice to you is;

Know what you want.

Look for an artist that suits your style.

Choose a professional tattoo place.

Make sure it’s all hygienic and clean.

Every artist or tattoo shop will charge different amounts! Some per project and some per hour it takes. Don’t choose a place based on it being cheap! You usually get what you pay for.

Go with what feels right.

Personally, I’d never get anyone’s name tattooed on me unless they were my kid but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do that if that’s what you’re into.

Just make sure your artist knows how to spell and proof the shit out of any words you’re getting inked!

Start small and get used to the idea of having permanent markings on your body OR throw caution to the wind, say fuck it, get a full sleeve and rock that shit like there’s no tomorrow.

Life is too short to have regrets!

Leave a comment and let me know how you decided on your tattoo/s? 



  • Raylene Harvey
    4th March 2019

    Hey Jonelle, thanks for sharing this 🙂

    I was in my late teens when I planned to get a tattoo. I had no idea what I was going to get, I just knew I wanted one. Flipping through the pages of those “off the wall” books, I changed my mind and got a belly piercing instead. Fast forward more than a decade later, I’m all “FUCK IT!”, I’m getting that tattoo I’ve always wanted. I’ve always been intrigued by those with ink, and I knew deep down, it’s what I wanted too.

    Now that I have my full sleeve I feel like it was the part of me that was missing all my life! I don’t know if this makes any sense… but having a tattoo made me a way better person – finally not giving a fuck about what anybody thinks. If you knew me before – I was terribly insecure.

    I chose to go with a very feminine and floral piece. My first session was on my inner forearm – an manga style girl in armour holding a skull, my second was sakura (cherry blossoms) kinda creeping up the back of my forearm. I explained to my first artist that I plan to extend this one day. I finally extended it up my arm into a full sleeve – and got some more cherry blossoms, roses, deadly nightshade, and a hummingbird on my shoulder. My first tattoo flows so beautifully into my final piece and it looks amazing and I’m absolutely in love with it.

    My latest piece is a very minimal and dainty one in memory of my Dad who passed away recently – he loved the sea and my sister and I went to get matching tattoos of a fishing hook on our right wrists. My sister is still breastfeeding so she wasn’t able to get hers yet (getting tattooed while pregnant or breastfeeding is soooo dangerous). Every time I see the hook on my wrist I’m reminded of the influence my Dad had on my life, and it gives me the motivation to keep pushing forward and living the best life I can possibly live, and not letting any nay-sayers get in the way of me achieving my dreams. My Dad is playing a huge role in that and I will be forever grateful and I know you totally relate to this.

    But yes, these suckers are addictive, I’m already planning my next ink!


    P.S. I really wanna see your piece with the moon, grim reaper and man in the tree. It sounds so hauntingly beautiful I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

    • TyrannyofPink
      Raylene Harvey
      8th March 2019

      Wow Raylene, thank you for your incredible comment! I absolutely hate people asking me the meaning of my tattoos because they’re so personal so I never ask anyone because I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable about having to explain but I LOVE knowing why people get them. I’m weird I know!

      I love the way you describe it “I feel like it was the part of me that was missing all my life” and yes, that absolutely makes sense. I feel the same. I feel like with every tattoo, I move more and more towards the person I am.

      I was always so hesitant to tattoo myself in visible places because I didn’t want to lose out on the job or be judged as not being smart. Now I’m old enough to know that people are assholes. They are going to judge you no matter what you do so if you want the tattoo, get the damn tattoo. I guess I’m also more certain of myself and my abilities so I’m not afraid of people thinking I’m not capable because if they do – well, they’re idiots.

      I love the tattoo you got for your dad. I have two tattoos for my father and they always remind me that he loved me more than anything and I feel like I’m stronger for it. Tattoos are so much more than just ink.

      Sending love!

  • Celeste
    14th January 2019

    Good grief I have been planning for ages but time is never on my side. I wish I could buy time. I need to make time to get more and I do want plenty more.

    Last year my sisters and I wanted triangles on our right shoulders but my regular artist pissed me off by wanting to add on to it. Saying how ‘nice’ this and that would look with it. All we wanted was 3 triangles on our shoulder with one coloured on each shoulder indicating the birth order. It took a while before I got through to him but not before totally losing it. We ended up never going because I didn’t feel like having the same conversation with another artist. They seem to want to convince you to ‘go for’ their ideas and I get rather irritated at that.

    • TyrannyofPink
      14th January 2019

      I totally hear you! I actually saw a similar one on the internet recently, three hearts for three sisters coloured in for their order and I thought that was so cool. And weirdly, I actually wanted to get 4 little triangles to present the four of us but then I decided my brothers are too shitty to have tattoos for them on me 😛

      I HATE when an artist wants to control what you want. NOPE – then they aren’t YOUR artist lady! Find a new one!

  • ChevsLife
    13th January 2019

    Planning on getting me some more ink this year!

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