There are three things to be aware of and ready for before you get your tattoo: choosing the right design and artist, being in good health, and avoiding drugs and alcohol before the procedure.
1. Before you get the tattoo, take your time and find the right artist. Work with him or her to find the correct design, one that is within your budget and that expresses what you want to convey. For more information about this process, see our FAQs on 'Choosing a Tattoo Artist' and 'Choosing a Design.'
2. Make sure you are in good health before you get your tattoo. If you've made an appointment for the tattoo, and feel you are coming down with a cold or have symptoms of an illness, it's best to cancel your appointment and wait until you are completely well. You aren't doing the artist any favors by bringing your germs into the tatoo parlor. You also won't do yourself any favors by getting the tattoo when you are unwell. A new tattoo is essentially an open sore, and inking a design into your skin when you are ill will only invite problems with healing and recovering from your illness. Even if you are in good health, you may want to take extra vitamins to raise your immune system.
3. Avoid alcohol for at least 72 hours before you get your tattoo. Alcohol can thin the blood, and you will bleed a bit during the tattooing process so you don't want to encourage blood loss. The more you bleed, the longer the tattooing process will take, becaues the artist will have to wipe the blood away again and again. And of course, alcohol abuse can lead to lapses in judgement, and if you get a tattoo under the influence, you may end up with something you completely hate inked on your skin. (It's difficult to find a reputable artist who will give you a tattoo if you appear to be intoxicated or under the influence of other drugs, anyway.) You want to be aware of all that is going on during the tattooing process, and you can take some Tylenol after it's over. Avoid aspirin, because that things the blood as well.