We’ve already discussed where to get a small tattoo, which is a helpful guide for those of you getting inked for the very first time. However, many people are considering a big piece, something dramatic and impactful. This kind of commitment requires a lot of thought. After all, while laser technology for removal or fading for cover up has come a long way, doing so for large and ink-heavy work is certainly more challenging. Below we have detailed both expected and unexpected considerations that you will want to review before booking that first consultation.
How to Choose Place and Placement for a Large Tattoo
1. Quality Studio and Artist is Everything
While you should vet every business service connected to health and wellness, getting a small tattoo doesn’t require as much homework. Big tattoos however, demand much more. You want the studio to follow the most stringent rules and regulations when it comes to health and safety because the larger the body of work the more care (during and after) required. That’s just one of many important considerations. View this 7-step checklist regarding how to choose a tattoo studio before getting in touch with them.
In addition, you don’t want an apprentice working on this one. Kanji symbols for new artists? No problem. A large body-wrapping dragon? Different story. Experience and tenure is just one consideration, so be sure to reference our 5-item checklist for how to choose a tattooist, someone that is capable of delivering a successful large, and complex tattoo.
2. Pain Threshold Means More
This is a fairly obvious consideration. If you have a low threshold for pain you will have a tough time getting through a large tattoo. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get one, just be mindful.
For one, take note of the pain receptors on your body and choose the location of your big tattoo accordingly. The good news, is that zones that typically have higher pain receptors, such as the inner wrists, ribs, hands, feet, and neck don’t offer the size of canvas you need. That being said, two zones with higher pain receptors that may be in the way of a large back piece include the shoulder blades and spine so you may want to design the tattoo in way the minimizes the amount of ink applied to those two zones. Otherwise, the other most popular large tattoo zone, the outer-thigh, has a lot of “meat and potatoes” on it, so even those with a low pain threshold can make it through an extensive session. Still, even if a given piece of work can be completed in one session (in theory) you may need to break it up into two or more. Thoughtful consultation with your tattooist will help decide this, but you can learn more about placement here.
If this is to be your first tattoo, you may consider getting a small one done first, which will give you an idea what your tolerance for pain is like. You can always work the initial piece into a bigger picture work of body art later on.
3. Will You Be Around for Follow Ups?
In our recent article about getting a spring break tattoo, or a tattoo while on any vacation for that matter, we addressed more complex tattoos and the necessity of being able to do a follow session with the tattooist. Again, the bigger the body of work the greater the need for after care and potential follow-up. The ink (tone and color) may not take as well as expected in one area of the tattoo, or you may not have provided it with the necessary after care, so you need to be sure that you’ll be (or can be) in the city of your tattooist within the first week to a month of completion.
4. An Estimate is An Estimate
It’s fairly easy to quote the hours (and thus cost) of a smaller tattoo. The variance will be negligible at worst. But when it comes to a large piece, you need to make sure you have wiggle room in your budget. After consultation your tattooist will quote a general estimate of hours, which allows you to calculate the estimated cost, but you cannot take that straight to the bank. When it comes to big ink, an estimate is an estimate. 8 hours can turn into 10, 11, 12 or more, especially if your pain threshold isn’t what you thought it was. Plus, your skin may not have been afforded to proper pre-tattoo care necessary to a successful tattoo. For example, if you’ve been excessively tanning the surface of your epidermis will be tougher than normal.
Whether you’ve been quoted 10 hours, two days (sessions), or more, you need to make sure you’ve got breathing room in your budget. But don’t worry, it can go the other way around too, with the actual cost coming in lower than the initial estimate.
Ready to move forward? Given the size and nature of this tattoo you will need to schedule a consultation. Whether you are in Vancouver BC or Toronto ON contact one of our tattoo studios to get started on this exciting new aesthetic chapter of your life.