tattooed man in barbershop

Tattoos 101: A Guide to Getting a Tattoo and Loving It Everything you could possibly want to know about tattoos

Tattoos are one of the oldest forms of expression. There is even evidence showing that our ancestors as far back as cavemen times where sporting tattoos all over their bodies. That tradition is still alive and well today. The days of the clean-cut leading man of Hollywood has been replaced by the grungy, rebel icons that fill our media.

That being said, tattoos are a risk. At their best, they are a form of self-expression, a piece of art that you’re always showing off. At worst, they are a constant reminder of a massive error in judgment. So getting the right tattoo is something you can’t risk screwing up on. To make sure you get something you’re happy with, we’ve put together everything you need to know about tattoos all in one place.

Table of Contents

Tattoos 101

History of Tattoos

History of Tattoos

The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian word “tatu” which means to mark. The actual use of tattoos goes way back. There’s clear evidence that ancient Greek, Celt and Egyptian societies heavily partook in tattooing. Tattooing was often done in acts of religious ritual. These markings were thought to hold power and were used to signify a connection to specific things in nature.

With the rise of Christianity, the tattooing tradition in the West died down. It wasn’t until European sailors brought tattoed natives back to their home countries, that the art started to take root again. This meant that many of the first modern people to receive tattoos were sailors and explorers.

By the sixties, tattooing became a popular trend and was soon adopted by people of all races, creeds, and genders. Tattoos are everywhere now and the styles and techniques are more diverse than ever. Ready to partake in a lasting tradition of men’s style? Good, let’s get to business.

Getting Started

Does it Hurt?

How Painful is Getting a Tattoo

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The most asked question in the world of tattooing is does it hurt? Yes, yes it does. However, that shouldn’t deter you. While tattoos are painful, they aren’t unbearable. A good tattoo artist will be able to work with you to manage the pain and make sure you’re as comfortable as possible during the process.

As far as which places hurt the most, anywhere where the needle is pressing against bone will be the most painful. So places like the ribs or fingers will hurt much more than say the chest or arms.

Be Smart. Pick the Right Artist

Choosing the Right Tattoo Artist

Too often, tattooers are treated interchangeably. We forget that they are in fact artists. No two artists are the same and no artist is an expert at everything. Expecting a tattooer who specializes in geometrical prints to ink a giant tiger head on your back, is a recipe for failure.

When getting a tattoo, it is crucial that you pick an artist with an aesthetic similar to what you’re looking for. Checking out their websites or social media is a great place to start.

Listen to the Artist

Tattoo Terminology

Remeber the saying mom knows best? Well, in this case, it’s your tattooer who knows best. It’s their job every day to live and breathe tattoos. Defer to their judgment when it comes to picking your designs. They’ll have a good grasp on which ones have stylistic longevity. They’ll also know whether the tattoo will work with things like your skin type or the location you’ve been planning on putting it. Lastly, their advice is a necessity in plotting out where multiple tattoos will go, if you’re going down that route.

Think Color

Colorful Men's Tattoos

Tattoos don’t have to be just black. Colored designs can bring life into whatever is being inked on you. Better yet, there are tons of colors to choose from.

If you’re going to go that route though, be prepared. Colored designs will fade over time. That means you’ll need occasional touchups over the years to keep things looking fresh. So be ready to shell out some cash long term.

In all honesty though, black ink is the better choice. It’s cheaper, cool and holds up much better than its colored counterparts.

Pay Up

Men's Tattoo Costs

As in most things in life, you get what you pay for. Those discount tattoo deals are for suckers and you’re not a sucker. A reputable tattoo artist won’t come cheap and they shouldn’t. Shelling out a few extra pennies to get the best is an investment worth making.

Artist will either charge a flat rate or an hourly one. Typically you’re looking between seventy and two hundred dollars an hour. That being said, larger pieces will probably come with an upfront cost instead.

Time Investment

How long does it take to get a tattoo

If you’re getting anything other than your basic tattoo, be ready to spend anywhere from a couple hours to coming in multiple days to the studio. Larger pieces require an incredible amount of detail and concentration so give your artist time to work. Trust us, you’ll also need to take a few breaks.

Tattoo Styles

Unleash the Animal

Men's Animal Tattoos

Animal tattoos are some of the earliest tattoos in existence. These designs are perfect for self-identification with certain traits an animal has. They also can just look seriously cool.

Sacred Geometry

Men's Geometric Tattoo

Your tattoo doesn’t need to be a direct statement. Non-traditional choices like geometric patterns can be eye-catching. They’re also ideal for lovers of minimalist styles. These designs subtly blend into your overall look. Geometric tattoos are perfect for blending with other tattoos as well.

Portrait Time

Men's Portrait Style Tattoos
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Portrait tattoos can be a great way to immortalize someone on your skin. With these, your tattoo artist’s skills are going to have to be on point. A good portrait tattoo shows respect for someone in a lasting way. A bad one, however, is literally as bad as tattoos get. Proceed with caution.

A Man of Few Words

Men's Quote Tattoos

Sometimes less is more. If you’re opting to skip the bolder designs, well-placed lettering is a smart alternative. Choose something meaningful like a quote, a name or a date, all are subtle but impactful.

Go for Something Classic

Men's Classic Tattoos

These are the styles that were first popularized by sailors coming back from far off voyages. Things really took off in the U.S in the undergrounds of society. Rebels, artists, and veterans were some of the first to adopt it. Artists like Sailor Jerry made this the most popular look of the era.

Things like anchors, animals, mermaids, and pin-ups are hallmarks of the classic tattoo look. Punchy, playful designs matched with bold lines and loud colors are hallmarks of the classic tattoo.

As Real as it Gets

Men's Realist Tattoos

Realist tattoos are exploding in the tattoo world. Stunning realism combines with distinct black and grey to create unbelievable body art. Don’t be surprised if these designs get plenty of oohing and awing from everyone who passes you by.

Feeling Tribal

Men's Tribal Tattoos

Tribal tattoos are the oldest tattoo designs. African, Polynesian and Celtic tribes are some of the most well-known for their distinct styles.

I won’t lie, these looks have been a bit overdone. Look around your gym and you’ll see every gym rat sporting a sleeve length tribal tattoo on their arm while they hog the bench press. If you’re going to go for this look, have at least some connection to the looks you’re adorning yourself with. Or at least have a healthy appreciation for what they symbolize and the peoples that they came from.

Water Color Tattoos?

Men's Water Color Tattoos

Yep, you read that right. Watercolor tattoos are one of the newest trends in tattooing. While painting in actual watercolors might be child’s play, doing that in body art is anything but.

Artists use dozens of colors to create the appearance of watercolor paintings. This births an innovative and fun style of tattooing.


Japanese Irezumi Men's Tattoos

Irezumi or Japanese style tattoos originated in feudal Japan during the Edo period. This look is one of the oldest continual traditional and certainly one of the most popular. Folklore heroes, dragons, warriors and nature scapes are all iconic designs of the style. The use of sharp colors makes this one that isn’t easy to ignore.

These dramatic and powerful tattoos are not for the faint of heart. These are seriously stunning and deserve to be shown off.

Black Out

Men's Blackout Tattoos

Blackwork, as it’s known in the tattoo world, is the art of tattooing using only black ink. While that may sound simple, it doesn’t quite capture the true artistry that goes into these designs. Working with only black and your skin color, an artist can create some amazing designs.

For those of you ready to go head first into blackwork, blackout tattoos are this style taken to the extreme. Tattooers, create whole swaths of skin that are completely blackout. What you’re left with are striking contrasts between your skin and the tattoo.

Tattoo Maintenance

Tattoo Maintenance for Men

Handle with Care

If you think that getting a tattoo is a one and done process and not a constant, permanent responsibility, then I’ve got bad news for you.

Taking care of your tattoo is not an option, it’s a must. Don’t believe me? Go look up tattoo infections for yourself. On the other hand, if you don’t want to be scarred for life, you can just take my advice on this one.

A Clean Tattoo is a Happy Tattoo

After getting inked, you must put a routine in place to keep it clean. In the first few weeks, you need to wash regularly with soap and water. That’ll help keep the open wounds from the needle from getting dirt or bacteria in them. Finish by moisturizing with a rash cream. Keep this up until the skin heals.

Once your tattoo has settled in, consistent moisturizing will help your tattoo stay in tip-top shape.

Final Thoughts

Tattoos aren’t for everyone. Whether you’re tatting up to immortalize something in your life or simply because you think they look cool, these tips can make all the difference in that decision. Lastly, please be smart about getting inked. This is a big decision so treat it as such.

FAQ About Tattoos

How much does a tattoo cost?
It depends on the size, the amount of detail needed to make it, and on how much the artist charges. Typically, hiring a tattoo artist costs $120 – $200 per hour.

How long does it take for a tattoo to heal?
The tattoo visibly heals over 2 – 3 weeks after it is made. But to heal completly, it depends on multiple factors such as the ink used, the body part it was used on and your skin type. It can take up to 5 months to have it fully heal.

How do you know when your tattoo is healed?
You will know when your tattoo is healed when the skin texture where the tattoo was made returns back to normal, and the color of the tattoo’s colors become increasingly vivid.

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