/> So you want to get tattooed? A guide to getting inked at the Big North Tattoo Show - Utilita Arena

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So you want to get tattooed? A guide to getting inked at the Big North Tattoo Show

Posted on 03 April 2019

As the Big North Tattoo Show prepares to return to the North East co-editor of the UK's best selling tattoo magazine Lizzy Guy gives us a guide to getting tattooed at a convention...

As co-editor of the UK’s best-selling tattoo magazine, I’m no stranger to tattoo conventions. Likewise, as someone who has lost count of how many hours they’ve been ‘under the needle’, I’m also pretty familiar with getting tattooed!

I spend most of my working day looking at tattoos; be it on a screen, in a studio or judging at a convention. I also answer a lot of questions about tattoos from the general public, who may not know what to expect. With this in mind, I’ve done my best to answer some of the frequently asked queries which should bust any myths or concerns you might have, should you be itching to get tattooed at the Big North Tattoo Show…

How old do I have to be to get tattooed? The law for tattooing is that you must be 18, and this rule also applies to some piercings. And before you ask, even if you have a note from a parent or guardian, you still cannot get tattooed. Tattooists operate a challenge 25 policy, similar to if you’re ordering alcohol at a bar – so if you are going to get inked and you’re lucky enough to have a youthful complexion, make sure you have a valid form of ID with you.

Who should I get tattooed by? This is quite a tough question to answer surprisingly! Like art, tattoos are personal to each wearer and therefore some styles of designs may not appeal to everyone. My answer is always that it depends on what you want on your body! If you want a realistic portrait tattoo, then you’d obviously need to go to a realistic artist and look for accuracy in their work (I mean, if you’ve got to be told that the portrait of Elvis you’re looking at is actually Elvis, then it can’t be that good can it?). If you’re coming to the Big North, check out the attending artists on our website and social media, because there really is something for everyone.

Do I have to pre-book my appointment? This depends on what sort of thing you’re after. For specific artists, larger tattoos or even cover-ups, I would definitely recommend emailing the artist you’d like to get tattooed by to check their availability. We find that tattooists that specialise in certain techniques, that have come from abroad or who work on larger scale pieces will want to take pre-booked appointments as it allows them to be fully prepared. We know how frustrating it can be to come away from a convention without that fix of ink though, so we’ve ensured that selected tattooists will be taking ‘walk up’ appointments, who usually have a set of cool designs to choose from.

Does it hurt? Yes. Next question…

…Ok, that’s the short answer. Tattooing can be painful, whether it’s the actual act of it, or just the sitting down for long periods of time. I actually think it feels like a slight scrape, similar to a cat scratch. However, different areas of the body are more or less painful than others. If you’re concerned about pain, then talk to a tattooist, or even a tattooed person beforehand. But remember, if it was that bad, there wouldn’t be so many people with beautiful tattoos!

Can I drink alcohol? I’ve seen a lot of people drink during conventions, but it’s really not a good idea! Most artists advise not to drink alcohol 24 hours prior to the appointment because it can thin the blood and it also limits inhibitions (see: people who get drunk and tattooed on holiday, it’s why Tattoo Fixers is still going!). Similarly, don’t go too heavy after the tattoo is finished; you’ll most likely need to eat and that cheeky pint can end up going straight to your head!

Will the tattooist do my own design? Sort of. The reason successful tattooists are so good is because they spend most of their time drawing for tattoos. They know what works on the skin and what doesn’t, so please don’t be offended if they tell you that your design may not work. Another issue in tattooing is plagiarism and I’ve spoken to many tattooers who have had a design brought in to them, only to find that it was a customised piece that their client traced it from a tattoo magazine or from their computer! However, don’t be put off; if you’ve got a cool idea and you’ve sketched something, it’s worth talking to your chosen artist about your thoughts – especially if the concept is something sentimental.

Why should I get tattooed at a convention? It’s fairly obvious that conventions are busier than studios, but that means it’s pretty fun to sit and people watch! If you’re nervous, it can also be reassuring that your friends and family can also check on you every now and then (whereas it’s often a lot more restricted in tattoo shops). Personally, I think it’s a brilliant opportunity to get tattooed by practitioners who you may not interact with usually. At the Big North Tattoo Show there will be artists from as far as New York, Toronto, New Zealand and Japan; combine that with great entertainment, music and games, the atmosphere is second to none; turning a run of the mill tattoo session into a great day out!

Tattoo terms:

Flash: Pre-drawn designs that can be used for different people. These are often small designs and aimed to fit most parts of the body.

Rotary/coil: Types of machine. Coil machines are more traditional and they make a buzzing noise that many are familiar with. Rotaries are slowly gaining popularity and are much quieter.

Magnum: A type of needle used for shading in a tattoo (not an ice cream)

Blastover: A type of cover up tattoo which does not fully cover the design underneath.

Sleeve: A tattoo that typically spans across the whole arm, from shoulder to wrist

Job-stopper: Visible tattoos (typically hands or face)

Catch Lizzy and the rest of the team live at the Utilita Arena 27th and 28th April 2019. Tickets are available online, from the booking hotline number 0844 493 6666 or in person from the Utilita Arena Box Office. Please note venue facility and booking fees will apply.

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