Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Tattoo Etiquette with Ray Peña, owner of Family Tradition Tattoo Co.

Research designs

Photorealism, surrealism, Polynesian tribal, Traditional American, Flash…the list goes on. Research what styles of tattoos speak to you. You don’t have to know exactly what you want, just an idea. “That’s actually what we prefer,” Peña says. “Because now I have the artistic ability and freedom to sit down and draw you something that’s unique — not something everyone can find on Pinterest.”

Make sure the shop is clean

Hygiene at shops is important. If it’s not a priority of theirs, beware. Puncturing the skin with a machine gun and needle is a pretty intense process. As well, make sure the artist follows a hygienic routine at their station with sterile packaging and equipment. “If the artist is giving you crap for asking a lot of questions than that should be a warning flag,” Peña says. “That’s not the place you want to get tattooed.”

Get your tattoo in sessions

If you don’t have the money to get the tattoo in one go, most shops will let you get it in sessions. This way the artist doesn’t have to make sacrifices and you don’t have to blow all your money in one day. Think of it as a body art installment plan.

Look at artists’ portfolios

Each tattoo artist has their own specialty skill or favorite style to design: calligraphy, shading, portraits to name a few. A tattoo — especially one with a deep personal meaning — should get done right with an artist who is as passionate about it as you. “Go online, look at an artist’s Facebook and website and see what reviews are out there,” Peña says.

Shop for quality, not price

When searching for a shop or artist, many people make the mistake of keeping to a strict budget and refusing to budge. If you’re going to get something permanently etched onto your body, you probably should splurge on it. If you want a $200 tattoo for $60, the artist is going to have to cut out details to the art. By doing this, Peña explains, “You’re going to be happy and the artist is going to feel properly compensated.”

Ask questions

Becoming knowledgeable about tattoos is the best way to get a fair priced, hygienic, and quality tattoo — especially if it’s your first one. “We’re here to help educate you in the process too,” Peña says. “So ask questions.” Not to mention, many who have tattoos claim they can become extremely addictive, so you might want to study up before. You may find yourself back at the shop again.

Side tip: Make sure you eat and go to the bathroom before getting a large tattoo that may take a long time. Sounds simple, but Peña says many make the mistake.

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