The Pains and Pleasures of getting inked: 6 things to consider before you take the plunge

Written by Andy | 28/01/2014


Get The Look

How To


Ricki HallNew year, new you?  If you’re planning to get a tattoo this year, whether for the first time or the hundredth, it’s a special occasion that you shouldn’t take lightly.  We’ve been a firm fan of the tattooed form since Ricki Hall became the face of Diesel for the recent autumn and winter campaign in 2013, and thought you might be too, so we’ve managed to wangle a chat with several guys-in-the-know to impart some pearls of wisdom.

Chaim Machlev

First up, the amazing tattoo artist Chaim Machlev, a ‘modern master’ according to, voted one of the thirteen ‘coolest tattoo artists in the world’ by Buzzfeed last year and awarded the title of Young Tattoo Artist of the Year 2013 by Tätowiermagazin – the biggest tattoo magazine in German speaking countries.

Chaim Machlev Hands Tattoo

Chaim’s work is beautiful – a mixture of minimalism, fine lines and mandalas.  When we burrowed into his past to understand the roots of his art and inspiration, Chaim told us that “when I experienced my first tattoo, I felt something fundamentally change inside me”.  As a relative late-comer to tattoos (he got his first tattoo aged 29), Chaim isn’t over-exaggerating.  This change altered his whole life – he abandoned a successful career in Israel and used his savings to travel to the spiritual home of the bohemian, Berlin.

Chaim Machlev Back TattooHe still works in Berlin now, at his own studio.  “The act of creating shouldn’t be constrained by time, so I only book one client a day”, Chaim tells us.  You know you’ll get his full attention.

There’s no choosing between poorly translated Chinese symbols and tacky butterflies here.  In fact, Chaim’s unique designs often change as he works.  “Harmony with the human form and organic flow is very important to my creation process”, he says, and “the body of the client really influences the design I create for them”.  When Chaim creates a sketch for you, the trust is, and must be, implicit.  The final piece may grow and evolve as he works, but his long list of happy customers can explain why you need to sit back, relax and trust this guy to give you a masterpiece.

Find Chaim at

Total Tattoo Magazine

James Sandercock - Total Tattoo MagazineSecond, some advice from James Sandercock.  As editor of Total Tattoo Magazine,, which was voted best tattoo publication at the 2011 tattoo awards, he knows his stuff.

So you’ve decided that this is the year that you take the plunge and get your first tattoo. There are a few things that are well worth bearing in mind before you put needle to skin. The first sounds kind of obvious… it’s permanent. You’re going to be living with it for a long time. So you need to put some serious thought into it. Make sure you know what’s out there, and what people are really capable of. A flick through Total Tattoo could prove to be a real eye opener. There are so many amazingly talented artists working in so many different genres, you owe it to yourself to do your homework. Think style not fashion. Fashion in its very nature is always changing but your tattoo is going to stay the same regardless of the cut of your cloth. Last but not least think hard about the placement- it can make such a difference to how you feel about your ink in the long run. There is no rush, so why not enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

Portis Wasp

Third in our lovely list of lads is the lovely Scottish men’s fashion blogger Portis Wasp, of  He is a tattoo fan, and gave us his fashion angle on the subject:

Of course, tattoos have become so popular these days that they have now taken over the fashion industry in a big way.  British models like Ricki Hall, Billy Huxley, Jimmy Q, and Stephen James are paving the way for a new kind of male model in fashion:  one who likes to wear his heart (and anything else that takes his fancy) on his sleeve.   Why would you book a blank canvas when you could have a walking talking piece of art for your new campaign or lookbook?  And that is precisely what these boys have become through their love of tattoos.  With Ricki Hall recently starring in Nicola Formichetti’s new spring campaign for Diesel, as well as popping up in David Beckham’s Superbowl ad for H&M, it is safe to say the industry’s new obsession with tattoos won’t be going out of fashion for a while yet.


And finally, our hunt took us to the lovely folks at, the best resource we found as a basecamp for inking knowledge.  Check out their full list before getting inked, but here are some of the most important points:

  • Have you discussed and been shown sterilising equipment & procedure?  Investigate the level of hygiene you should expect, and expect your artist to abide by it.
  • Are you wearing comfy clothes that don’t restrict the tattoo area?  Ink may stain your clothes, so don’t go in your best gear – go in something old, comfortable and loose.
  • Have you had alcohol, or taken aspirin-based medication?  If so, you need to rebook your appointment, as both thin your blood – leading to medical problems, obstruction to the artist and a faded tattoo, as blood dilutes the ink.
  • Are you rested and relaxed, have you eaten, and have you got your money to pay the artist?
  • Have you decided on your artwork and is your artist capable of doing it? Are they reputable?
  • Have you browsed your artist’s portfolio, got a price and finalised the design?

You’re ready to go!

One final point… no one can judge what is aesthetically good or bad but you.  That said, we’ve seen a few poorly thought-out tats this year, from hideous misspellings to choosing the briefest trends of all time to permanently ink on your body.

Courtesy of and

Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say that these 2013 ‘big-hitting’ trends may not make it to the next generation.  And ‘no regerts’?  A collective shudder went around the office.  THINK before you INK!!

If you want to get Ricki Hall’s look from the recent campaigns he’s appeared in take a look at the Diesel clothing collection or the Fred Perry 45 collaborations.

What did you think of this post?


Thumbs up review image


Average review image

Not for me!

Thumbs down review image