There are so many cool artists out there. It depends on what kind of style you like, but some of my favourites are LA-based Dr Woo, Nathan Kostechko and also my friend Tati who does beautiful hand-poked tattoos. My friend Emily who works with an amazing shop Femme Fatale in London is great, and there’s also Claudia De Sabe and her shop Red Point, who specialises in large Japanese-style tattooing if you want to get something truly mind blowing.
Obviously stay clear of anything offensive or that might seem like a good idea now, but you may later regret. Also, thoroughly research your source material. For example, you may have seen a traditional tattoo you like, but that design could be potentially offensive, racist or sexist, and you maybe hadn't realised. It’s really worth looking into the meaning of your ideas first.
Whether or not you’ll find the process painful definitely changes person to person. You're not going to be able to pick a part of the body that's going to be pain free, so you shouldn't let that dictate where you get tattooed – the experience is momentary but your tattoo is forever. For me, the worst bits are the palms of my hands and my feet. Usually the sensitive parts of your body – your ribs, elbows, armpits – will be the worst.
When it comes to it, stay calm and be in the moment. Make sure you've eaten, stay hydrated, and breathe normally. Try not to get too worked up about it, because this isn't what your experience should be about – you're getting a new tattoo with your favourite artist and that's exciting. Bring some snacks with you as you actually use a lot of energy when you’re getting tattooed. Plan enough time for the appointment too, and discuss the method of payment beforehand so you're prepared.
Luckily, these days we have Google to tell us if an artist is reputable. You can read about other people’s experiences, which should make finding a shop easier. Take a look at the artist’s portfolio, visit the studio and see how you feel, or what the atmosphere is like. Do you feel welcome and does it look clean and safe? Really do your research; you get what you pay for in this industry. Maybe you have to travel, maybe you have to save up for a little while, but that's all part of the process.