That is the question. In 2007, I got my first tattoo rather impulsively, while in art school. I loved it then and I still love it now. A tribal-looking flame just under my right collarbone, to me it was a reminder of my favourite verse at the time, which reads:
...let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. [Matthew 5:16]
Perhaps frowned upon by some, who do not agree with Christians getting tattooed, I owned my decision and felt at peace about it. Even after all these years and through various ups and downs in my walk with God, I have never felt ashamed, regretful or convicted to have it removed. In fact, several years later (in 2011) I got my second tattoo [pictured above] while studying abroad in New York. I won't elaborate on this one too much - I think I will leave you to figure it out but, I love it even more than the first as; it has a lot of relevance to the time I got it and symbolic meaning to my life as a whole.

But, not everyone's story is the same and therefore I wanted to write a post on this topic. For some, their tattoo/s later bring regret; for others, one tattoo leads to the next, and the next... And even the next. There are also people who are against the idea, whether for religious or personal reasons. Therefore when making the decision to get a tattoo, there are several things to consider.

Who?
This is permanent. So, make sure the artist inking you up, knows what they are doing. Do your research, read reviews on them, ensure they are trained and licensed and; definitely go through their portfolio. Don't let your buddy or, a buddy of a buddy practice on you... There are pig skins for that. Even if it is free, it is simply NOT worth the risk. The more experienced the artist is, the less likely you are to end up with a flower that everyone mistakes for an alien.

What?
Just because you love Britney Spears today, does not mean you will feel the same way when she is going through a breakdown or, has disappeared from the music scene (oh that already happened). So, it is not advisable to get something pop culture related as, what is popular today, may be gone tomorrow... But your tattoo will still be there. I think something symbolic or significant to you personally, is the key. This way, even when that phase of your life passes, it will still remain a relevant marker of that period which, you can admire rather than hate.

When?
If you are too young when you get tattooed, it often results in regret later. You may be too immature to select something you will love forever so, my advice is to wait. Also, your body shifts, grows and changes so, that tattoo will too. I know a guy who got tattooed on his arm when he was a scrawny sixteen year old; but as he grew, his arms became bigger and more muscular and his skin stretched. Needless to say, his tattoo morphed into something else over time and he hated it. If you need your parents' permission to get a tattoo... Don't do it! Wait.

Where?
DO NOT get a tattoo on your face. That teardrop on your cheek is NOT a good look. But on a serious note, considering where on your body to place a tattoo is a very important decision. Although times have changed; if you work or plan on working in a very conservative or professional environment, being able to cover it up may be to your benefit. So try steering clear of the face, neck and hands as far as possible. If you work in a creative environment however, this may not apply as much...

Why?
Just because you have been dating for a year and think you are in love, is not a good enough reason to get his/her name on your body... Or get matching tattoos. People fall out of love and break up all the time. Also, getting a tattoo while drunk or, because all the cool kids are doing it, is not a good enough reason either. Why you do it has a strong link with what you decide to get therefore; ensure you are doing it for the right reasons and that it is something you truly want. Also, if your faith or beliefs are not in alignment with being tattooed, seek advice, read up on it, pray and be sure you are at peace with whatever you decide.

Tattoos can be really meaningful and look amazing but; if done incorrectly or decided upon too hastily, it can also fill you with lasting regret. So before you ink, pause and think... Who, what, when, where and why?

Oh, and if you took part in my recent Instagram poll - thanks for voting! Here are the results:



Please share your tattoo tales in the comments below!


[Photo: Jimmy Chu]

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