I Want A Tattoo But Not Sure What To Get

  • Written By Dan Hunter on August 17, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

If you’re itching to get new ink, but you have no idea what to get, you aren’t alone. Move over, writer’s block!

Whether this is your first tattoo or your fifth, it can always be a little stressful trying to decide what to get. This is especially the case if you want to get a custom tattoo that’s deep and meaningful.

Tattoos are permanent and last forever, so you’ll want to make sure that you get something that’s worth the investment. The great news is, we’ve got you covered. This is your step-by-step guide to getting a tattoo that you won’t regret for eternity.

If you want to get a tattoo but don’t know what to get:

  • Narrow down your options
  • Consider getting a flash tattoo
  • Do your research
  • Self-reflect

Narrowing Down Your Options

You need to first understand what options you have before getting the tattoo. There are two types of tattoos available, depending on your circumstances and preferences:

  • Flash tattoos
  • Custom tattoos

Flash Tattoos

If you’re stuck and want something generic, a flash tattoo might be the best choice. These are pre-made tattoos ready to be tattooed in the same day. Flash tattoos can offer you designs organized by themes. For example, if you want a tattoo that involved cats, you can go to your local parlor and ask to see a flash sheet with different cat designs.

This can help inspire you and give you more ideas. If you have a theme in mind, seeing several examples can help you narrow down what you want. Flash tattoos can provide you with a general template, and you can add onto it if you wish. Talk with your tattoo artist about ways you can customize it to your specific needs. Flash tattoos can serve as a good starting place when you have no idea what you want.

Go to the local parlor shop and flip through the flash tattoo books; you’ll find something that’ll catch your eye. You can also use this as inspiration to create something special and unique through a custom tattoo.

Custom Tattoos

The other option you have is to get a customized design based on your personal preferences. For custom tattoos, it’s best if you already have a general idea of what you want. Create a list of these themes and take them to a tattoo artist. They’ll be able to offer some guidance as to what you can get and show you examples of their previous work in their portfolio. Something might catch your eye and provide you with a fresh idea.

Custom tattoos require more time and effort, but they give you the opportunity to brainstorm with your tattoo artist. Your artist is experienced and can provide you with a wealth of drawings, patterns and customized designs. They can be your most valuable asset — especially in the brainstorming phase. Booking a session for brainstorming is doable and can be helpful in generating ideas.

Do Your Research

The importance of research can’t be overemphasized. Getting a good tattoo requires a lot of preparation. Not only do you need to research designs, but you also need to explore different tattoo artists in your area. Each artist obviously has their own style, and some only offer specific designs.

If you want a big tattoo, or a larger design with many smaller pieces within it, you’ll want to research how you can make it all fit together and flow.

Look at profiles online. You need to look for consistency and quality. It’s essential that the artist or shop has healed photos of tattoos on their website. Doing this will introduce you to a world of new ideas and designs you may not have ever known existed. The possibilities are endless with tattoos. The more you’re exposed to a variety of tattoos, the deeper your scope and imagination will be.

Put Some Thought Into It

Brainstorming Sessions Work

Spend some time thinking about the design and its placement. If you’re still stuck and have no idea of what you want, a personal brainstorm session may be needed. The best way to approach this is to highlight the most significant things in your life.

This could include things related to family, work, personal interests and hobbies. Organize these thematically and list possible designs related to that theme.

Link a Theme to the Artist’s Portfolio

Google images might be your best friend here. Searching by theme and keeping your ideas organized will help you narrow down your options.

Once you begin leaning towards a particular topic or design, delve deeper into artists’ portfolios online. You can then start to solidify your idea and have something coherent to present to the tattoo artist during your first consultation.

“I’m Not Feeling Inspired by Anything”

This is common, don’t sweat it. When people feel completely lost, they’ll often opt for a popular, generic tattoo. If you’re looking for something that’ll hold meaning, you need to look inside yourself.

It sounds kind of cheesy, but honestly, that’s where you’ll find the most inspiration.

What Defines You?

You don’t necessarily need to formulate the perfect design right away. You just need a clue, not a fully-formulated idea. Maybe you have a heritage you’re proud of, or are a devoted fan to a specific sports team or movie, or feel strongly about your vegan lifestyle. Think of things that relate to your identity.

What things define you?

Get Inspiration from Social Media and Artwork

If you have a general idea of what you might want, take that idea online and do some searching. Look through tattoo hashtags by themes on Instagram. There’s a wealth of photos and ideas on there, waiting for you to discover them.

You also don’t have to solely look at pictures of tattoos. Photos, paintings and sketches can be great inspirations as well.

Some Tattoo Ideas to Get Your Imagination Going

Apart from themes, there are different categories of tattoos you can get. A brief overlook of some popular options might give you some fresh ideas or point you in the right direction.


Maybe there’s a particular quote you read in a book that holds a lot of significance to you. Perhaps there’s a part of a historical speech that resonates deeply with you. These are all good ideas for simple tattoos.

You could also get something motivational or even something cliché like “carpe diem.” Think of important words that you wouldn’t regret having on your body forever. Names might not be a good idea, though. People change; permanent ink doesn’t!


You may want to get a portrait of your children or a departed family member. You might even want to get one of your favorite actress or musician. If you decide to take this route, be sure to do a lot of research for a good tattoo artist. You want someone experienced with an extensive portfolio of portrait tattoos.

It’s a wonderful idea to commemorate a late loved one in a portrait. Be sure to keep in mind that these require a lot of detail and effort.


In the end, it’s up to you what you end up getting. The road to choosing the perfect tattoo isn’t always easy. It can involve a lot of research and deep self-reflection. These things are all worth it when you end up with something truly unique and meaningful.

The best advice we could give on this topic is to be patient and not rush. It can be frustrating when the right idea just won’t come to you. You don’t want to end up with a tattoo you’ll regret for the rest of your life. Do your research and be thorough, you’ll find the right idea will come to you eventually. It’ll be worth the wait.

When you eventually go ahead with getting your dream tattoo, it’s imperative that you always follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare advice closely, and be sure to invest in a high-quality tattoo healing lotion to aid recovery.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan-friendly aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated, but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times, and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.​

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