A Guide to Getting a Tattoo with Frank Cooke

A decade ago, at the age of 18, Frank Cooke was gripped by the art form of tattooing.

In part due to an “all or nothing” personality, Frank has accumulated a considerable range of portrait pieces, monochrome works, and depictions of religious imagery and sculptures. In particular, Frank has shown an inclination toward designs that take cues from the creations of Italian Baroque artist, sculptor, and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, of which he has four as an homage to the precision and detail in the 17th-century artist’s sculptures.

When not spending time in a parlor chair, Frank holds down a position as the head of the “CookedUp” brand. We spoke with Frank about the age-old practice of tattooing, and some of the advice he was able to give thanks to his experiences getting inked.

DO: Research
Make sure that you thoroughly research the shop that you intend to hit up for your tattoo. Focus on the history of your artist, as well as the shop’s cleanliness, sterilization habits, and customer reviews. Cleanliness is everything when dealing with blood and needles!

DON’T: Be A Sheep
It is always good to get a custom design. There are enough swallows and nautical stars out there—aim for something that will not only be timeless but a reflection of your individual style.

DO: Find the Right Artist
Review an artist portfolio before you get started. Ensure that they do great work and that they are seasoned in the style of tattoo you are looking for. Every artist will have a personal style that your design should align with. Also make sure that you have great chemistry with the artist on a personal level—you don’t want to be tattooed by someone that you do not get along with. This makes for a bad session, especially in circumstances where you’re spending several hours in the chair.

DON’T: Get A Jobstopper You Can’t Afford
If you are in any way a novice in getting tattooed or haven’t entirely settled on a career path, stay away from highly visible areas the neck, hands, forearms, fingers, and face. Furthermore, regardless of how much the new Drake track speaks to you, don’t get his name stamped on your forehead.

DO: Tip Like You Mean It
This is something that is mutually beneficial. It’s a good way to demonstrate your respect, and will guarantee that the artist will not only look out for your best interests, but also devote themselves 110% to making it a great piece, especially if it requires multiple visits.

DON’T: Be Too Trusting
This may sound like a no-brainer, however, it does happen: make sure that you see the artist set up for your session and that they open a brand new needle. That tattoo artist you met on your tropical vacay that offered you a good deal? He probably tatted five other dudes with that same needle earlier.

DO: Take Care
Make sure to follow all suggested post-care procedures that you receive. This will ensure that you will not develop any kind of infection or scarring. It will also keep your tattoo looking fresh, and prevent the ink from bleeding.

DON’T: Cheap Out.
If you have to save up to get good work, take that route. You will get what you pay for.

If you settle for less, you will only end up paying someone to remove, fix or cover up the initial tattoo, spending more money and going through more pain.

DO: Be Obsessed With Your Design
Like getting married, get a tattoo that you absolutely love—not just like.

DON’T: Skip Spellchcek
The individual you’re working with is a tattoo artist, not a spelling-bee champion. Always double- and then triple-check before you get started. The same can be said about getting inked in a language you are not fluent in. We’ve all seen the viral disasters.

DO: Sleep On It
It’s never a bad idea to wait several months, in case you have second thoughts. You could also run your design by family or friends, however keep in mind it will end up on your body, not theirs.

DON’T: Do Your Ribs.
Unless you have a very high pain threshold. My experience was the worst ever. In fact, I wanted it to be over the minute I started. Some parts of the body just react differently to the needle.

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