I got my first tattoo just after high school. It was my name written in cursive font on my back. A few tattoos later, there are things I wished I knew before getting that first tattoo and the subsequent ones.

Here they are;

  1. They don’t have to mean anything – You can get a tattoo simply because it is looks pretty and that is alright
  2. Pay attention to your artist on the aftercare. Avoid the temptation to scratch the itch when it gets itchy. Just slap it to get relief. Do not peel the scab as well. Let it fall off on it’s own to avoid scarring
  3. Have a candid conversation with your artist on whether they can execute your design, don’t be afraid to ask where they get their equipment from. All these things will help put you at ease when you sit on that chair.
  4. If the place looks dingy, then it is not a good place to get tatted. I once saw a parlor that shared a space with a hair salon and the only thing separating the two places was  a weird orange curtain.
  5. Cheap is expensive. The cheaper the tattoo, then the higher the probability that they might be using low quality ink or equipment that isn’t sterile.
  6. Buy a tube of grabacine ointment from the pharmacy once you leave shop. Grabacine is a triple ointment antibiotic that will help prevent your tattoo from getting infected as it heals
  7. The closer the skin is to your bone, the more it will hurt. So a rib or back tattoo tends to hurt a lot more than an arm tattoo. Also, people have different pain thresholds, so one person’s the experience will not be the same as yours.
  8. Swallowing a painkiller before you get your tattoo done is probably the most useless thing you can do. It doesn’t help at all. It will still hurt.
  9. Don’t give your artist alcohol. This is common sense right? LOL. we gave our artist alcohol when he made a house call and what I have to show for it is a very bad map of Africa on my arm. And if your artist accepts alcohol, then they have a poor work ethic and shouldn’t be working on you.
  10. Insist on new needles which have to be opened as you watch. Pretty obvious.

Check out places where you can get a tattoo in Kenya here.