I love tattoos. I love them on me, I love them on you, I love them on a damn fox in a stupid box with effing sox or whatever. I think the tattoo is probably one of the greatest things ever invented, at least in terms of self expression and self-inflicted pain. Here in Calgary we’re certainly not short on great tattoo studios, or great tattoo artists. I’ve been tattooed by a couple different places around town and honestly it’s more about personal preference and experience then anything else these days. Right now, my personal fave is Trevor Varem at Enso Tattoo on 17 Avenue. But if you’re new to getting tattooed here are a few tips and tricks to get you started.

Decide on a design
I’m into sentimental tattoos. To me, my tattoos tell a story of my life, they’re my symbols for people I’ve loved or places I’ve been, etc. Like diamonds, tattoos are forever, so I want to make sure 50 years from now when I look at my body art, I fondly remember why I got those tattoos. That’s not for everybody, some people just like weird shit on their body, others just like the idea of decorating their skin with art. Or in some cases some people love Winnie-the-Pooh so much they need a full size replica on their back. Whatever the case, make sure you’ve got an idea as to what you want before you head to the studio. It makes everything a whole lot easier, especially for the artist. They’re not mind readers, so figure it out.

How to pick a studio or an artist
Honestly, it’s super easy to find an artist and studio in Calgary, we have tons here. What’s hard is finding the one that’s right for you. I usually go on recommendation, if a friend’s had a good experience I like to check it out based on that. But if you know no one with a tattoo (I’m sorry for you) best thing to do is again decide on your design, and find an artist that specializes in that style. The inter-webs come in handy here, just start searching. It can be intimidating walking into a studio for the first time, but a good studio won’t make you feel like a tool just because you’re a newbie or new to their studio. Also, cleanliness is key. If their are old band-aids on the floor and the smell of burning in the air, it’s probably a bad sign.

No pain no gain
Tattoos hurt. Tramp stamp or full sleeve, regardless you will feel some discomfort when getting a tattoo. Some places hurt less then others, but just remember, once it’s done you’ve totally earned it. There are substance that can make it hurt less, but it’s not safe nor will your artist appreciate it if you’re half cut while under the needle. Most of those substances thin your blood… imagine if someone came to your job bleeding and slurring all over you. Not cool.

Once you’ve got your sweet sweet tatt, now it’s time to show it off. Alright, this may not be appropriate in some cases but if you’re up for it, post that business on Instagram and let the world know that you just did something that grandma probably wouldn’t approve of. Unless she was a sailor then in this case she probably picked it out!

If you’re looking for a studio in Calgary, Yelp has a listing of ones that have been rated. Or check your local listing for some of Calgary’s annual tattoo shows and festivals, it’s a great way to get the full scope of who’s out there.

Now some haters may not agree with me spreading the word about how awesome tattoos are. But really, it’s rare to find even minors without tattoos these days. Also, tattoo artists, like most artists, don’t make money off of exclusivity or protest to popularity. So do the right thing and get that giant Winnie-the-Pooh you’ve always wanted.