My First Tattoo – The Art of Body Modification

Seemed almost too good to be true. I saved the money for the quoted cost of the tattoo, and went to my dad all excited. He frowned at me. He said I had to tip the tattoo artist too. He didn’t previously inform me of this. I was irritated. I asked him how much more I had to save. He told me. I was bummed, as I had blown the rest of the money from my paycheck.

A slow two weeks passed before I had the rest of the money needed in hand. I gave it to my dad for safe keeping. He made my appointment. I was excited, I thought the appointed day would never arrive. I could barely sleep the night before, I was filled with excitement and nervous anticipation.

On the appointed day, my dad and I left the house early. We stopped at the local grocery store. My dad handed me a five dollar bill and told me to get a package of jolly rancher hard candies and a bottle of sprite. I looked confused and asked why I needed to purchase these items. He said since I was a diabetic, it was to help with the blood sugar spikes and that I should just shut my mouth and get my butt into gear. I frowned at him, but went to purchase the aforementioned items.

We arrived at the tattoo studio approximately fifteen minutes before my appointment time. I looked at my dad. He said it was better manners to arrive early as tattoo artists only make money when they have clients in the chair, and being late could hurt the artists income flow. My dad talked to the receptionist and filled out the needed paperwork to have his minor child tattooed. I didn’t realize he had brought my school id and birth certificate with us, along with my drivers license.

So I sat in the waiting room for what felt like an eternity. Finally my name was called, and I walked to the back of the studio with my dad and Mark the tattoo artist. He pulled out the stencil for my tattoo and asked if it was what I had hoped for. I told him it was more than I had hoped for. He was pleased. He sprayed cold stuff on my leg, then shaved it. I said I had shaved it just that morning. He said he wasn’t trying to insult the shave job I had done that morning, but the skin had to be absolutely hair free for the tattoo to be perfect.

I said he would know he was the professional. He smiled again. He then placed the stencil on my leg and asked me too look in the mirror to approve its location. I said it was perfect. He smiled again. He put on latex free gloves and started to put ink in the itty bitty individual cups. One cup for every color and there was going to be a good deal of color in my tattoo. The he started opening the needle packets. I looked at my dad for a split second. He said this was normal, and that I should relax.

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Finally after Mark had made all of his preparations he said we were ready to begin. I held my dad’s hand as Mark began the outline. We talked about everything from how cool my dad was to sign for me, to music, books, and other artists we both admired. I was so into the conversation I barely felt a thing. When the outline was finished my dad made me drink a little of the sprite since he said I turned a nice shade of pale. Thanks dad. After my dad finished his fussing, Mark began to fill the tattoo outline in with color.

The whole tattoo took about an hour and ten minutes. Finally it was done. Mark sprayed more cold stuff on me, wiped my new tattoo clean and told me to check it out in the mirror. I did. I was so psyched. I was so thrilled I have him a hug. My dad said it was really nice work and shook Mark’s hand. Mark bandaged me up, and gave me a list of aftercare instructions. My dad and I gathered up all of our stuff, paid the receptionist and tipped Mark and we were on our way.

After we left the tattoo studio, my dad kissed me on the forehead and said a first tattoo was a rite of passage, and he was glad he could help his little girl with hers.

Looking back on it now, I’m so unbelievably lucky and happy my dad went with me. My dad knew the signs of a good studio, and took the time to research the studios in the area. My dad rocks, and so did my first tattoo experience because of him!


Bethie Santry is the author of Your First Tattoo – a top selling tell-all, 12 step guide for everything you need to know BEFORE getting your first tattoo.