Take your time and thoroughly research your decision. When you’re in your 60’s you want to be able to proudly show off your tats to your grandchildren.

I asked advice from tattoo artists on how to decide on a tattoo, what to expect and how to take care of it.

Choosing your design:

American artist Andy Ryan Felty tells us how to go about choosing a tattoo:

“I think the most important thing is to design a tattoo that fits the shape of wherever you are putting it. Fluidity is important and is often overlooked. Sometimes I have to set aside my own personal artistic preferences to make sure that the overall aesthetic of a person's tattoos flow” says Felty.

Tattoo by Andy Ryan Felty
Tattoo by Andy Ryan Felty

Darker skin presents a unique set of circumstances when designing a tattoo because the pigment in tattoo ink is filtered by the pigment of an individuals skin tone. So naturally the darker your complexion the more bold and simple the tattoo has to be. I usually recommend people of darker complexion to stick to all black tattoos so they can be seen and read from a distance and will age properly. 

Almost everyone wants bright vivid tattoos but the thing is, color always fades, no matter how well you apply a tattoo or how perfectly it heals, most colors just can't stand the test of time. 
Your skin stretches and moves and bends and is exposed to all kinds of weather, so it's unreasonable to expect these tattoos to hold up and look as good as they did from day one. 

What to expect:

New York based artist Katie Gray talks us through what to expect when getting a tattoo and how to take care of it.

“I would say what you need to know is to take time in choosing the right artist. Too much pre meditating about the process can really stress the situation more than is useful. 
New York based tattoo artist Katie Gray
New York based tattoo artist Katie Gray

Do your research first.  Choose a reputable shop and an artist whose work looks like your vision.  When you establish a sense of trust between you too, everything will go much smoother.  With a reputable shop, the pigments & tools will be top quality. 

Make sure to eat prior to your appointment and bring some water or slightly sugary drink. Stay calm and breathe.  


Less is more. Keep it clean with an unscented soap and use a little unscented lotion when it gets dry and flaky.
Leaving the initial bandage in for 5-12 hours and dry healing for 24-48 hours once that is removed and tattoo is cleaned, typically jump starts the healing process. 
No swimming or sun for two weeks.

Current tattoo trends:

The latest trends consist of contemporary blackwork, American traditional, Japanese traditional and contemporary tattooing (which is actually quite a broad category). 

Both Gray and Felty will be showcasing their art and tattooing at the The South African International Tattoo Convention taking place from 23 - 24 March at the The Lookout at the V&A Waterfront.