graybones

Best order for when you tattoo each part of your body?

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I've heard it's frowned upon to get your hands tattooed before you have your full arm done (also looks dumb). Just wondering what's generally accepted by tattooers & heavily tattooed people as the best order or what makes the most sense visually... back before chest? arms before legs? Finish one arm before starting another, or not? Less painful spots first? Or does it not matter that much... What do you think?

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I don't think it matters much, I heard doing back before ribs ties it in better, but honestly have seen it done both orders and it works out fine. If anything I would probably have started my back sooner, as to get some of the large scale pieces out of the way, leaving more room for one shot tattoos later in life. Also I wish I would have got some of my early tattoos not on my arms, I know more than one person who wishes they could put the tattoos on their legs on their arms instead. It's not that my tattoos are bad, I think if i had known a little more at the time I could have planned my arms a little better and I got a little braver and bolder with the images I choose the more comfortable I was with being tattooed. But really I never really wanted a "sleeve", I just wanted to be tattooed and meet new people and soak up info and I think the tattoos i have show that. I had a guy about a year ago who wouldn't leave me alone because he was sure that I worked at a shop and could fix his tattoo for him, because as he put it "only people that tattoo have tattoos like that". If I had a continuous sleeve, he probably wouldn't have just thought I was another tattooed citizen of Portlandia.

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I took the path that I have rarely (actually never) seen. I have started with my legs first (weird right?). I think it's better to "experiment" with your legs as they are seen a bit less, and you can be a bit bolder with your designs. (Thighs are much bigger than people think! "a dude's thigh's are like a small lady's backpiece" as one tattooer told me). Other than "work" reasons I would rather keep most of my tattoos on my legs, and torso first.

After seeing most people start arms to chest, it just looks a bit off to me. When you take off your shirt it looks odd. It's like wearing only the sleeves to a shirt. I'd like to see people get their squidpants first.

My preferred order is:

Legs

Back

Ribs

Chest

Arms

then if you want to keep going:

feet

hands

fingers

neck

face?

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I went leg > foot > arm > (soon to be) torso

I doubt it matters that much. I know I'm "saving" my back because it's the biggest area and I want the time and money to get it done by the right person. Other than that, I try to plan things out so they'll look good together, but I don't think there's much difference between getting a tattoo on your calf first vs. on your thigh.

The thing about hands/neck/face before you're otherwise "covered" is that a lot of people will get the impression that you didn't give much forethought to it. That's their prerogative, I don't think tattooed hands without tattooed arms look any good but if that's what someone wants to do, they can do it.

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i probably got a few visible guys done too early, by accepted considerations, as i have one hand and my knuckles done with one forearm and loads of huge spaces still bare. those large areas are spoken for (waiting for money and/or ability to travel for most). my parents have been getting tattooed well before i was born... i was around shops since preschool, knew of the negative mindset that some have towards tattoos, and thought over those tattoos for years. i know those factors led to the tattooer doing them, since he had known me and my parents, and knew i wasn't just after the tough guy look like a lot of people my age.

that being said, i also knew that in the art-based lines of work i was considering when i got them done, visible tattoos wouldn't be an issue for most. seeing sculpture professors with big tattoos on their necks, and Tom Huck (the printmaker) covered from the fingers as far as i could see, i could still make it with hard work. once tattooing became the goal for sure, i knew it was a similar situation. i wouldn't advise anything visible or too crazy for most, unless they're dead set on a path where it's no issue.

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This is a good thread. I started with the inner bicep, then i went to the outside of my arm from about shoulder to a couple inches above my elbow. Then i got my chest up to collar bone and a little on my back shoulder blade. Then got my ticep done. (This all on my right arm and chest). by this time i was pretty into tattoos so i decided to get my feet done. both feet, one shot, only way to do it. then i went back up and finished the little spot that was left above my elbow on my arm so i had a sort-of half sleeve.

Then i went to my legs and have stayed south since. went calf, outside of my ankle inside just above ,my ankle, thigh, then just recently got the oustide of my thigh from my knee to right under my ass cheek. (this all on my left leg). i plan on finishing my left leg then going and starting and finishing my right before i go back above the waist.

I really like the thought that i have a lot of tattoos and none are visible unless i show them. I always get a chuckle when someone only has like 3 or 4 and they go forearm hands or some combo in which they are visible and i reply with i have 12 and they say "i didn't know you had any", makes me know i am into it for the right reason.

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I got upper arms done first, then chest plates, then started working on my legs. I started and finished my back, and this year I have brought one arm down and will start filling in the rest of my front.

Next year I guess I'll bring the other arm down, chip away at the front piece and maybe add some filler to my legs.

I don't really regret the order I did things in. Like David I would probably choose to do things in a different way if I had another shot at it, but this is a little like wishing that you could go back in time and study a different college course or take a different career path or something... The grass is always greener in some respects.

When I got the chest plates I never thought that I would want to fill my whole front in within a couple of years. Funny how quickly your ideas about where you draw the line change.

I guess someone raised above that the 'ideal' in one POV would be to do legs and all the very private space first, and only then move onto the arms and the public space. Reallistically, however, I think there's a minority of people who want to invest all that time, pain and money to have an almost entirely private collection of tattoos for a good number of years. I think people want to 'look tattooed' without necessaryily being an exhibitionist.

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I really like the thought that i have a lot of tattoos and none are visible unless i show them. I always get a chuckle when someone only has like 3 or 4 and they go forearm hands or some combo in which they are visible and i reply with i have 12 and they say "i didn't know you had any!

I too like the "inside out" approach as well but different strokes

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I generally wanted to keep my tattoos concealed which is how I started out when I visited the tattoo shops 10 years ago. Everything fit under a t-shirt and pants. More out of a preference and a clark kent style, still want to look straight-laced in my Sunday best for me Mum ;)

My dilemna now is to get my collar bone tops (i.e. small pieces) or go backpiece first. I know what I want for the collars but not a firm idea for the backpiece. Any comments from tattooers? I imagine the backpiece would frame better if the top is empty which is why I am waiting and saving for now.

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I really like the thought that i have a lot of tattoos and none are visible unless i show them. I always get a chuckle when someone only has like 3 or 4 and they go forearm hands or some combo in which they are visible and i reply with i have 12 and they say "i didn't know you had any", makes me know i am into it for the right reason.

I like this thought...makes a lot of sense.

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I did, 2 back tattoos, hip, wrist, chest, forearms, sleeve, hand, other hand, and next month I'm doing the shaved part of my head.... I have both hands done, on my right hand it's accompanied by a full sleeve, but my left isn't and i think it's looks awesome...but I would say take the hands slow...if you don't have any visible tattoos don't start with your hands I call it crossing a line, the shirt line, lol.

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This is a good thread.... I really like the thought that i have a lot of tattoos and none are visible unless i show them. I always get a chuckle when someone only has like 3 or 4 and they go forearm hands or some combo in which they are visible and i reply with i have 12 and they say "i didn't know you had any", makes me know i am into it for the right reason.

People from work usually shti themselves when they see me on the beach in the summer, or at the gym. Then from then on, they treat me weird.. screw 'em if they can't take a joke.

I went in the order, forearm, biceps, back to the forearm, chest, back to the forearms again... with foot, leg and back tattoos thrown in at random times. I feel it has to be balanced out from left to right.. can't be fallin' over.

Rob

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I did, 2 back tattoos, hip, wrist, chest, forearms, sleeve, hand, other hand, and next month I'm doing the shaved part of my head.... I have both hands done, on my right hand it's accompanied by a full sleeve, but my left isn't and i think it's looks awesome...but I would say take the hands slow...if you don't have any visible tattoos don't start with your hands I call it crossing a line, the shirt line, lol.

I keep mine covered at work, so the shirt line has to be observed until I retire. Then a neck and hand tattoo are going to be a must. Definitely sets you apart at that point. Nice ink, BTW.

Rob

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People from work usually shti themselves when they see me on the beach in the summer, or at the gym. Then from then on, they treat me weird.. screw 'em if they can't take a joke.

I went in the order, forearm, biceps, back to the forearm, chest, back to the forearms again... with foot, leg and back tattoos thrown in at random times. I feel it has to be balanced out from left to right.. can't be fallin' over.

Rob

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I keep mine covered at work, so the shirt line has to be observed until I retire. Then a neck and hand tattoo are going to be a must. Definitely sets you apart at that point. Nice ink, BTW.

Rob

thank you :)

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I know most everyone here seems to follow the balancing of tattoos. Left then right then left. I did just remember something I saw. I was smoking a cig with my artist outside and a girl walked by that had exactly half her body tattooed black and gray. Pretty stunning and to me more eye grabbing than a whole body suit.

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I started like most, arms first. Big gnarly flash piece from the internet when I was about 17. Obviously I was fuckin' super smart back then. Luckily I only ended up getting a few shitty tattoos that reside above sleeve line. I'm saving my whole right arm for Russ Abbott, he just doesn't know it yet. Left leg is reserved for whoever wants to mentor me.

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I went with a half-sleeve, then my entire upper chest, then I finished my right arm.

I don't think the order matters except for saving the neck/face/hands for last. I don't mind showing my ink off that's part of the fun of having tattoos. Just when I travel, visit family, or go to work am I very conscious about covering my ink. I think when you know what you want next, just get that next. I don't see a point in having a "set" order. For example I know pretty much exactly what I want for my second sleeve and I also have a good idea of what I want on my back/torso. No point in me trying to think of something for my legs/thighs so I can abide by some "order" if I already know what I want on the rest of my body.

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I guess i haven't really thought about the order that i'm getting tattooed... for me i just get tattoos that i think look nice, i'm not all that fussed about it looking like a full sleeve. I only have tattoo's on my arms and legs at present (and one little cherry blossom behind my ear but that doesnt really count) i would like full coverage on my left arm and possibly right. I have no tattoos on my torso because i have adult acne on my back (sexy!) and i'm kinda waiting and hoping it might go away so i can have a suitably fabulous back piece.

My contribution to your question is.. just do what you want to do. What's right for one person isn't going to be right for another. Enjoy being tattoo and if a piece you love fits somewhere.. go for it! :)

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I'm really stoked on getting my legs done first. I wish I would've just started there to begin with at Least the bad tattoos wouldn't be obvious. But after seeing all these badass tattoos on my leg, I just can't stop looking at em. Ill get my right leg completely finished then finish my torso then save back for last, in hopes of being closer to someone I can commit multiple sessions to. My arms more than likely will be last of all because I love the appeal of not telling I have a lot of tattoos.

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My order so far has been right upper arm, back, right thigh, left upper arm. Next piece will hopefully be my stomach, between just underneath my 'pecks' (or skinny moobs might be more apt) to just above my navel. Then left chest plate. Completely unstructured progress, but I am just getting what I like, as and when it appeals. No grand plan, but getting more focus on getting high quality work as I get older and learn more!

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I really enjoy the freedom of surfing in only board shorts so my arms legs and back see to much sun, cant really justify having these areas tattooed only to cook them daily.

So I am aiming at areas that don't get to see the sun to often first, my chest/torso is finished, now I am working on my right thigh.

When I slow down with surfing I will end up getting more exposed areas tattooed.

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Just don't get your hands/fingers done until you have 2 full sleeves, and don't get your neck or face done until you have tattooed literally every other inch of your body.

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