Good First Tattoos For Guys

So, you’ve worked up the courage to get your first bit of ink? I bet you’re as excited as I was when I got my first one! There’s a lot of advice about the dos and don’ts, and you probably want answers that will give you peace of mind. You’re in good hands, so let’s delve into what to consider for a first tattoo.

Good first tattoos hold a permanent element rather than a temporary one. A small, black and white tattoo is safe, as you can easily remove it or make it better. Avoid tattoos about fads, trends, girlfriends, or favorite artists because you cannot guarantee they will be present in a couple of years.

Sitting for your first tattoo can be a little nerve-wracking! So, let’s take a look at what you need to do to prepare and how you can improve your overall experience.

Deciding On The Best First Tattoo

The key to being happy with your tattoo choice is being 100 percent positive that you want to get that specific tattoo. Whether you stew with your choice for a few minutes or a few years – ensure that you have no doubts before getting it.

What Are Some Good First Tattoo Choices?

Tattoos don’t necessarily have to have a lot of meaning. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with tattooing something that carries significant value, but some people enjoy artistic expression. You may decide to get a tattoo of Harry Potter because the books or movies symbolize a tough time in your life.

That said, ensure that your first tattoo is something you can live with for the rest of your life. As you progress up the rungs of the ladder of life and your style changes, the tattoo should still be something that you cherish and love.

When you go to make your appointment for your tattoo, have references. When you give tattoo artists pictures, photos, illustrations, etc., artists appreciate it because they can gather a clearer picture of what you want and replicate it in their art style. They would also not appreciate you bringing a photo and asking them to replicate it – you should avoid this for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, artists enjoy expressing their work, and copying another artist is no fun and defeats the purpose. Secondly, the artist’s style might be entirely different, meaning you won’t get the desired replication. Lastly, it insults the artist because it implies that they do not possess the artistic skill to recreate the image in their style.  

Which Tattoo Artist Is The Best?

There are as many tattoo artists as there are shoe styles. Artists have different strengths and weaknesses, making them skilled at different things. Some may be particularly great at shading, while others can draw detailed features of animal anatomy very well. Avoid going to an artist that’s great at portraits, and have them do a fine-line tattoo.

It is worth finding an artist who places their work’s quality above cheap pricing. It may be that you’re tight on money, or you’re skeptical about paying unusually high prices for tattoos, but the truth is that tattoos are an investment; you don’t want to be cheap with tattoos.

If you find an artist that can do exactly what you want, but their asking price is not within your budget – save up! It’s worth waiting another three or four months, working extra hours, or doing extra chores for that little bit of extra income to get the best version of the tattoo you want.  

What Kind Of Tattoos Should You Absolutely Avoid?

Remember, a bad tattoo choice is a permanent reminder of a temporary thought. Since tattoos are permanent for the most part, you want to avoid tattoos that involve temporary things. If you were to ask yourself, “Will I still feel the same about this in the next ten years?” and you answer with anything other than a resounding YES, avoid getting that specific tattoo.

Avoid Names Of Girlfriends Or Boyfriends

Though expressing your newfound love for someone may appear to be a vast and beautiful gesture, you can’t be certain whether your relationship with them will persist. Save your ink for a special someone until you’re confident they’re the one.

Fads, Trends, And Current Events

Fads come and go, and they don’t endure nearly as long as a tattoo. It’s not worth having Gangnam and Style imprinted on each leg; save it for something more significant and long-lasting. Don’t allow dancing crazes or mustache popularity to define you; tattoos should be an expression of the individual.

Derogatory And Hateful Tattoos May Come Back To Haunt You

Though most tattoo artists will refuse to ink any hatred, disparaging, or profane tattoo, some still do. Avoid anything you wouldn’t say to a loved one. It might also get in the way of a promotion at work, a job opportunity, or a successful romantic date.

Something amusing early in life may not be that amusing when you have a high-ranking position in a prestigious company. Depending on its placement and quality, a crude tattoo may be challenging to remove or cover up if you later regret it; therefore, it’s better to avoid getting one.

Word Spelling Or Foreign Words

Japanese kanji is a popular choice for tattoos, but be sure you understand the meaning before getting your tattoo. The spelling may be off, or you may get the kanji for “death” instead of “life.”

Unfamiliar Tribal Tattoos

Tribal and Maori tattoos are holy and significant to the civilizations from which they originate. Rather avoid this one if it carries no personal significance – you’ll only pay a lot of money later for a painful procedure to remove it.

What Size Is Suitable For Your First Tattoo?

While there’s no official consensus on the best size for your first tattoo, some things will make the decision easier. Most people opt for a smaller tattoo and are pleased with that because they have the option to further it into something else later on. On the other hand, some first-timers jump into the deep end and go for full-body suits.

It’s crucial to consider your pain tolerance. Your first time can be harrowing, especially on a sensitive area like the ribs. Arms, forearms, and biceps carry a mild to moderate pain level, while the chest, back, shoulder, and stomach areas take it a step further with moderate to severe. Lastly, the rib cage and the shins are the most painful areas to receive a tattoo.  

If you’re entirely confident about getting a tattoo, opt for a small one that you can easily conceal. Furthermore, you can easily remove a small tattoo if you regret your decision, but not a large one, plus removing tattoos tend to leave scar tissue on the body. Given some time, you’ll come to terms with it and know whether you want to further it, get more tattoos, or stop entirely.

Additionally, don’t color your tattoo until you are happy with the result and you’ve had it for a while because Colored tattoos are more complex to remove.

Tattoo Ideas And Their Symbolism

The suitable tattoos for guys can highlight the masculinity and leadership that comes with being a man. What better way than with primal animals?


The lion represents masculinity, power, leadership, bravery, parenthood, courage, and strength as the ruler of the jungle. For millennia, humanity has considered lions beautiful and dangerous animals.


History reveres the wolf as one of the most highly intelligent and adaptive creatures. On the other hand, Wolf tattoos associate with power, protection, family, and leadership. Loyalty, fatherhood and brotherhood, solidarity, perseverance, spirituality, and procreation are some of the additional symbols associated with wolf tattoos.


Pandas are a symbol of the Far East, formerly thought to represent riches and good fortune in ancient China, and the symbolism has survived to this day.

On the other hand, Pandas are typically gentle creatures, and their overall symbolism links to living a calm and harmonious life. Because of their complementary colors and behavioral tendencies, some people associate them with the Ying-Yang beliefs.

Panda tattoos can also convey a kind and serene demeanor, or just that you appreciate these adorable and fluffy bears. Panda tattoos are pretty famous, owing to their temperament, behavior, and charming appearance, regardless of the connotation.

Should You Get A Tattoo As A Teenager?

Despite the aesthetic appeal of your favorite band or singer, don’t be too hasty to run off to the tattoo shop just yet! Your interests will significantly change as you age and accumulate life experience. In other words, the music, colors, and shapes you really like right now,  will more than likely not stay the same a few years from now.

So, What Would Be A Good Tattoo Choice?

It would be best to consider getting a tattoo with intrinsic value that symbolizes your identity as an individual. Avoid tattoos that are trendy or something that carries the possibility to change.

For example, imagine your favorite ice-cream flavor is blueberry. Are you only going to eat blueberry for the rest of your life, or do you think you might find that a new and exciting flavor, which you don’t even know exists yet, could become your new favorite? Tattoos are permanent, so be careful that you don’t apply a temporary solution.

The last thing you want ten years from now is tattoo regret – nobody likes that! So, take at least two weeks to decide on something good – there’s no need to rush because the shops will still be there.

Wait Before You Get A Tattoo

Alright, so you have an epic design, and you’re excited to slap it on the ol’ bod, but it might be worth your while to wait. Biologically speaking, your skin stretches and moves as you grow, so what would happen if you get a tattoo too early? It’s an unfortunate truth, but the tattoo will move and stretch, warping it and making it into something unpleasant.

For example, if you got a sleeve tattoo on your forearm, it will lose a lot of its detail as you grow older. Of course, since the tattoo will move with your skin, it won’t be on its original spot, leaving you with a slightly skewed tattoo. Look, waiting is never a fun experience, but the truth is, waiting a few more years will avoid any stretching and moving.

Tattoo Placement: Here Or There?

When you get a tattoo as a teen, it’s good to avoid any visible areas to the public. Now, this might sound bizarre, and you might be thinking, “Well, what’s the point of getting a tattoo when I can’t even show it off?” but sound reasoning behind the suggestion.

Since you know you want a tattoo, it’s clear that you want to establish your identity and profile the real you. It’s also true that we often make mistakes, although what we want is not always the best thing for us. You might not be 100 percent certain which career you plan to pursue, and even if you are, we change our minds all the time, right?

It isn’t wise to get a tattoo on a spot of your body that can stop, limit or hinder your employment opportunity, much less your dream job. For example, many teens have aspirations to teach English in Japan. However, they do not permit teachers with visible tattoos to teach in Japan, and sometimes even teachers with any tattoos regardless of visibility. 

They are this strict because Japan associates tattoos with the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. Japan is usually very serious about academia, and the illustration of rough people teaching students does not fit Japan’s status.  

So, when you get a tattoo, avoid places like the face, hands, neck, or any other area that you cannot cover with everyday attire. Instead, go for the legs, arms, and ribs – all places you can cover up easily if needed.


Remember, a bad choice tattoo is a permanent reminder of a temporary thought. Ensure you have no second-guesses, that you have the right artist, and that you are thinking logically rather than with your feelings – our feelings fluctuate every hour of every day!

Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Design and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):


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