As tattoos become more popular and socially acceptable in Lebanon, there are many more people, who are a lot younger coming in to tattoo shops. Since being in Lebanon I have been apprenticing at a tattoo shop in Kaslik, seeing a lot of the best and worst people have to offer. After four months of watching, I think we need to go over a little shop etiquette and I will help set the record straight on a few things so when you walk in to get your first tattoo, you won't set the wrong tone with the artist.

Note: there is nothing wrong with Haifa's lovely tat.

First, never ask if getting a tattoo will hurt. The whole process of getting tattooed includes a needle moving so fast that it penetrates ink into your skin multiple times per second. It is not going to feel good. I do not think you can go as far as to say they all hurt, I believe they just feel uncomfortable.

Second, come in with at least an idea of what you would like to get. Don't have any ideas? Use Google. Go online find a style, a concept, an inkling of an idea that you like and come in to a shop with to work an idea. The worst people are those who come in with no idea, expect you to help them find one, then hate absolutely everything you show them.

Third, respect the opinion of your artist. If he or she says that doing a certain tattoo that small won't work, listen. There are some ideas that just can't be put onto your skin, it's not a reflection on your artists skill, it's a reflection of his experience knowing that some ideas are just bad.

Fourth, if you come into a shop with questions about getting a new tattoo and one of those questions is "how easy or hard is it to remove it for (insert reason)" then please do not get a tattoo. Of course there is always a way to remove tattoos using lasers, but those procedures are more expensive and more painful than the original work, plus they never fully remove the ink. If your mindset going into getting a tattoo is I may want to get rid of it one day, then you do not have the correct mentality to get one anyways.

Fifth, and finally, tattoos done by professionals are expensive, do not be surprised by this fact. On average, most shops have a "shop-minimum" usually between $60 - $80. For a rule of thumb consider you will spend a $100/hr on whatever you want done. Understand that a tattoo the size of your palm is probably going to cost around $200 depending on color and the complexity of the design, because it will take close to 2 hours to complete. It's a simple concept.

Besides that, just think about what you are doing before you come in. Boys: stay away from bible quotes, religious icons, and angels. Girls: well, honestly you can do what you like, I rarely see anything of quality that is not good on you. I will say that I did finally see one female under-breast tattoo that I didn't like for the first time in my life, it was a quote that read "one day I might find my Prince Charming, but my Father will always be my King”. There are just too many layers of gross going on there for me to start getting into that.


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