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Respect the Process | Tattoo Equipment Supplier


Getting your first tattoo can be an anxiety ridden experience, you know it’s going to hurt, no one likes to be hurt, you know you are putting your skin into the hands of a stranger essentially unless you personally know the tattooist then great! There are tonnes of posts on how to prepare for your tattoo, research the studios, speak to the artists, picking a design you love and one that is achievable, but what is it actually like to sit in the chair and get it done? As a tattoo equipment supplier, we are familiar with the process and want to familiarise you so you know exactly what to expect and hopefully conquer at least some of those first tattoo nerves!

Into the Studio

Walking into a tattoo studio can be quite intimidating for some people, they are usually relatively small and only have a couple of people in at a time, unless it’s particularly busy with people trying to make bookings it will only be the artists, people already in the chair and maybe a receptionist. Try not to be too nervous, it’s a big day for you but for these professionals, it’s another day on the job. You’ll usually not be kept waiting long unless the artist's previous appointment has run longer than anticipated. While you wait you will be asked to fill out a consent form confirming your age and making sure that you don’t have any illnesses that would make it risky to get the tattoo, then when your artist ready the process can begin.

The Stencil

Depending on whether you have made the appointment on a previous day or whether you have had a walk in appointment, my understanding is that most UK studios operate on an appointment basis unless they have cancellations, then the tattooist will already have the tattoo you have selected ready as a stencil. What they will do is apply a stencil cream to your arm, sometimes they will need to shave the area first, and place the stencil paper with the image where you have requested the tattoo be placed, they will then ask you to check you are happy with the placement. Now some people won’t have an issue saying they want it moved over half an inch but I know there are some people out there who would be hesitant to say if they weren’t happy with the placement. Make sure you say if you aren’t happy and you want it moved up, down, left, right or where ever, remember the artist wants you to be happy and proud of your tattoo, and you will spend literally your whole life regretting it if you don’t say.

Getting in the Chair

Once your stencil is on and you are happy with it, you’ll sit in the chair, sometimes it will be in an open area, rarely a private room. Tattoo artists are utilising curtains and room separators more often to keep their studios with an open feel but also allowing for privacy should the client want it. It’s likely that at this point you will have some time to breathe and prepare while the tattoo artist gets ready his equipment, he’ll put tiny cups out and fill them with ink and sort out his machine ready to start. This can be one of the most agonising waits for a first timer, I know it was for me, but instead of working yourself up while this is going on like I did, I would suggest just breathing and take the opportunity to get to know the artist as it will make the rest of the process more comfortable. I’d just like to note before we talk about the next step that this process is important, and you will only have a professional experience such as this if you go to a reputable studio who use a legitimate tattoo equipment supplier, like us, if you go to someone unlicensed then your experience will be a lot different and they might use potentially dangerous equipment. Lecture over :)

Getting an Outline

The artist will apply a little bit of cream to your skin before he starts the outline, this cream will stop the stencil rubbing off and will help the needle glide smoothly across the skin. For me, the linework was always the most painful part of the tattoo but I have heard people say that the shading is. We all experience pain differently so I can’t tell you what it feels like, I can only tell you what it felt like for me. For me, it felt like more of a burning sensation than a stabbing sensation, very focused burning surrounded by vibration. It’s painful I’m not going to lie but I do remember thinking something along the lines of “Oh is that it?”. But as I say that’s just my experience. Remember to breathe and you’ll be fine, holding your breath will make it worse.

Shading Time

Once the outline is done, you might be offered a short break which I would recommend you take, the tattoo artist might switch needles or even machines at this point. The shading process is a lot quicker than the outline and it can be quite painless for some lucky people, once the shading is complete so is your tattoo!

Cleaning Up

Once the machine is down the artist will wipe away excess ink and blood (there’ll be a little bit of blood by the way) and might take a photo for their portfolio or the studios social media accounts, if you don’t want the artist to do this you can simply just say no, you can also get a photo at this point too. Then they will apply protective cream to it and wrap it up, some artists use bandages others use clingfilm, I prefer clingfilm as it prevents everything getting sticky.


The artist should then give you your aftercare instructions, these should be given both verbally and on paper. Make sure you listen carefully and follow the instructions to the letter if you want your tattoo to look the best it can.

That’s pretty much what you will experience when you go to get your first tattoo, what do you think? Are you getting your first tattoo soon or perhaps you think there is something I missed? Let us know! Remember if you are a tattoo artist and looking for equipment, MTS is a tattoo equipment supplier and you can find what you need on our store!

Love Katy…


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  • Katy Jackson