Because I decided to get my tattoo on a whim, I was genuinely very lucky that the first tattoo parlour I googled did walk-in appointments, was the one recommended by my friend and also had no bad reviews across social media. I think for anybody else I would advise against getting a spur-of-the-moment tattoo because honestly, there are SO many ways it could have gone wrong.
The place I went to get my tattoo is Frontier Tattoo Parlour in Cardiff city centre and I would highly recommend them from my small personal experience. I first went in at 2.30 and was told I could come back at 4pm for my tattoo as it was only a small one (see my earlier post on what my tattoo is –> here <–) I toddled off back to John Lewis café to have a cup of tea and calm my nerves for the next hour or so. This, however, failed to work, as I was SO nervous, which really threw me as I never get nervous for anything! I was shaking really badly, felt sick, couldn’t manage to eat anything and just generally thought I might be about to die. Thankfully, my wonderfully kind housemate, Anna, left work early to come and sit with me whilst I got the tattoo done, otherwise I think I would have been even more nervous when 4pm rolled around, if that were even possible! Her just being there did a lot to calm my nerves (although I was still shaking both during and after having my tattoo done apparently) so if you think you’re likely to be nervous about getting a tattoo, maybe see if one of your close friends can come with you and sit with you whilst you get it done.
When I got back to the tattoo parlour, there were some fairly standard forms to fill out just asking my name, address, what proof of ID I was giving, date of birth, age and then a short medical questionnaire asking obvious questions about blood-borne diseases and blood-related illnesses ( think haemophilia and blood clotting etc.). They also asked about skin conditions and allergies, and I was honest here about my eczema. One thing I will say is that if you do have eczema or any other skin problem like me, think very carefully about the placement of your tattoo. I knew I wanted mine on my arm, but due to the proliferation of eczema on my hands and arms, I had to think about where my eczema usually occurred and also where it had occurred in the past. Therefore, whilst I really wanted this tattoo on my inside wrist, I knew that I couldn’t, as I was extremely prone to skin irritation there. Ditto with the crease of my elbow and the tops of my arms (both inner and outer sides). The one thing both the tattoo artist and one of my friends (who is also a trained tattoo artist) said is not to pick the scabs or the dry bits that come off the tattoo. If you do, you will pull the ink out of the skin, and you’ve effectively just thrown your money down the drain. I’ve been lucky so far, it’s been a week and whilst my eczema has begun a slow crawl around my inner arm over to my tattoo site, I’ve managed to keep it in check. I have, however, lost one chunk of my tattoo though, due to letting it dry out overnight, and the moisturiser I then applied making the dry chunk fall off. It’s not noticeable, but it’s still slightly annoying.
SO they saw my ID, gave me another form to fill out with a short description of the tattoo I wanted, size and location. I then went over into the tattooing area. As my tattoo was something they had anticipated getting requests for, they already had stencils printed out. My tattoo artist, who I think was called Kieran, asked me how small I wanted my tattoo and printed out a couple of sizes of the stencil until I was happy. He asked me where I wanted the tattoo, shaved the baby hairs off that part of my arm and stuck the stencil down.
Then the actual tattoo happened. I am not going to lie to you all. It was very painful. All those people that tell you that arm tattoos do not hurt, or feel like ‘cat scratches’ are lying to make themselves sound hard. It feel like somebody is carving a knife into your skin and the longer the needle is in contact with your skin, the more it hurts. Let me just take this moment to remind y’all that I am no stranger to a knife in my forearm, I would like to think the pain threshold of my arm is higher than the average person. Nevertheless, this hurt. The tattoo artist had my forearm clamped down underneath his arm so that I couldn’t jolt or jerk so as to mess up any of the lines and so I took to tapping my foot to deal with the pain. I swear I looked like Thumper from Bambi. The only saving grace was that the pain stopped the second the needle was not in my arm. Nor has it hurt for one second since I got it done either. So it’s not all bad. But just don’t expect it to be a walk in the park perhaps!
The whole think took about 10 minutes, perhaps less. My tattooist did his best to put me at ease when he could tell I was really tensing up, asking me where I was from and making a joke about whether I wanted a matching jellied eels tattoo for London. When it was done, he cleaned the area, put some kind of gel on it and then put cling-film over it, securing the edges with surgical tape. I was told to leave the cling-film on for a couple of hours, then to keep the tattoo moisturised with Palmer’s Cocoa Butter, not to pick the scabs and not to go swimming.
One thing I may not have mentioned in my last post (I forgot) is that Frontier Tattoo Parlour made no money from my tattoo. As it was a Manchester bee in memory/connection with the Manchester attacks, they were donating every penny of the money given for those tattoos to the Just Giving Red Cross funding effort to help the Manchester victims and their families. As long as I showed that I had made the donation on my phone to the front of house staff, that counted as ‘payment’ for my tattoo.
One week down the line, I’m not too sure how it’s healing. It seems fine although some of the edges look slightly blurry due to the small dry bitty bits that keep falling off around the edges whether I moisturise it or not (I have been, copiously, and I’m actually trying to let it breathe the open air a little more this week). I went back to Frontier on Saturday and they said it looked fine, but that touch-ups were free if I felt it hadn’t healed properly. They also advised I give my tattoo two weeks to fully heal, so I’ve still got to be careful with it until next Monday!
Wow, this is a mega long post! Thanks for reading to the end and I will see y’all soon!