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I've been contemplating for about a year if I should get a tattoo, and I finally had it done on October 3, 2012. Here's the process:
I did my research and I found a quote that I really like and that I can totally relate to. Did some inquiries and surveys before deciding which shop is the best in terms of reliability & pricing. It is important to take into consideration factors like the cleanliness (make sure you are there to see the needle being removed from its packaging) and the price (do your survey at two tattoo parlors or more to see if there's a vast difference in the pricing and proceed to look for a cheaper alternative - only if you are a penny-pincher like me)
It's important that you take note of the precautions and be vigilant of the dos and don'ts to make sure that your tattoo will look its best for the longest time possible.
Step 1: Tracing. This is a quote that I've taken from White Oleander, a literature novel by Janet Fitch. Did a little alteration, and used 'a' instead of 'the'.
A Phoenix Must Burn To Emerge
The phoenix is a mythical bird with colorful plumage and a golden tail, described to have a life-span of up to 1000 years. Towards the end of its life, it will make a nest for itself out of twigs and sprigs, which will then ignite to set both the nest and the bird on fire. The bird burns and turns into ashes, and from it, a new phoenix emerges, and the cycle continues ad infinitum.
This quote is pretty inspirational, as it tells me that I have to undergo the toughest paths before I can achieve the goals I've set in life. The purpose of the tattoo is to act as a (permanent) reminder for me to not give up but to persevere through adversities until I see success coming my way.
To be honest, it really isn't as painful as it may appear to be. You might experience a tingling sensation every time the needle hits your bone but the whole experience was surprisingly relaxing and pleasant. (Have to give it to my thick skin :P)
The end result
Few days later when the skin started to peel off.
The recovery period might differ for different people but mine was completely healed by the second week without having to experience any sort of irritation or awful infection. Remember to keep away from the sun, hot shower and seafood. I have had an awesome time getting inked, and I am already considering a second one!
Hope this helps! :)