BY Ysabel Anne Aluquin

The sound of the tattoo gun reverberated down the empty hallway as I stood outside the tattoo parlour for the first time. I had only ever consulted with my artist via text and it was suddenly overwhelming to be standing in front of the neon sign. To quote Eminem, my knees were weak, my palms were sweaty but thank god I didn’t have vomit on my sweater (even though I was starting to feel extremely nauseous). For a moment I thought to myself that I had nothing to lose by leaving. Unlike most tattoo parlous, they didn’t take a deposit from me and so I would literally lose nothing by walking away.

Something kept me there though — okay, maybe I paced a little back and forth — but something kept me in front of those neon lights. Despite my incredible fear of needles and my low pain tolerance, the thought of something important to me etched onto my skin for the rest of my life kept me there. The voice of my disappointed parents rang in my ear and I could only imagine how they would feel about it, but this tattoo wasn’t about them, it was about me. Although I probably paced outside the studio for about half an hour, the idea that I was finally doing something for me, that I was getting something that was important to me and that I’ve really wanted for a long time, and prepared for.

I had thought about getting a tattoo for years, contemplating its design and where it would go. The idea of an arrow was always in my head because an arrow to me represented life as an archer and me as an arrow. If life pulled me backwards, it was only to launch me into greater things (cheesy, I know). If I could have, I would have put it on my forearm so that I could always look at it. To keep it hidden, I decided instead to put it on my left side, just underneath my bra line.

This design was a mix of Pinterest arrow tattoos, Project Semicolon and my tattoo artist’s interpretation of me as a person. Initially, it wasn’t supposed to be filled in but my artist said that it would represent me better with some shading. Leaving it blank was too dainty and I was anything but. In the end, I loved it. It was perfect. It was mine.

Getting your first tattoo can be a scary and surreal experience, especially if you’re scared of needles like me. A lot of people will tell you that it hurts and a lot of people will tell you that it doesn’t, but in all honesty it’s all up to you. Everyone has their own level of pain tolerance and of course it helps to pick a spot that won’t be so tender. 

The side can be particularly painful due to being so close to your ribs. Research is really key when it comes to getting a tattoo. Do some research on what part of your body would be best, placement is as important as the design. 

You should do some research on the kind of tattoo you want, the style and the artist and studio you plan to get it at. Artists specialise in different styles and it’s best to find the style and artist that best suits you. 

At the end of the day, it’s your skin and your ink. What you choose to get, how you choose to get it and where you get it are all up to you. It’s a big decision and it can be an intimidating one. Your motivation to get that tattoo is what will ultimately help you decide if you’re ready or not, whether it’s purely for aesthetic purposes or if it has a deeper significant meaning or memory attached to it. 

Once you get in that chair and the needle’s on your skin, there’s really no turning back (unless you get laser removal).

Serious Trivia with Jeeves

Coming Out and the Not-Choice to Transition

Phil' your Thursday night to the brim