Whether you already have tattoos or not, you may have been tossing around the idea of getting one, or adding to your collection. From time to time, the idea bank goes blank. Coming up with the perfect image and representation can be difficult at times, especially if you are visually over saturated and over stimulated. When you decide you are in the market for some new adornments, follow these steps and you will be happier in the long run.

1. DO NOT look at magazines, scroll Instagram feeds, Pintrest boards or Tumbler: The nature of pop culture and its related algorithms tends to make this the best way to get the same recycled and overused idea and sets you up for something entirely unoriginal. Even artists have trouble not regurgitating ideas for the same reason, and in fact, some make their entire living that way! We live in a world where most of us are constantly looking at screens and are bombarded by icons and images day in and day out. Tattoos may be worn for any number of reasons but they can contribute far more to your personal empowerment and individuality if they come from original ideas. While classic images are classic for a reason, there is always a way to make a design unique and fitting to you and your situation.

2. Tattoos are willfully worn personal mythology: This mythos is an important link to our subconscious and it is within that deeper self that lies our true identity. The more we can sort out who the true self is and bring it to the surface, the more fulfilled our life and actions will be. The narrative of each person is a unique set of experiences which usually include successes, failures, learning curves, traumas and a host of other experiences that are much more difficult to define. The concept of the True Self can be taken to new heights if one uses some basic principles of sympathetic magick. Indelibly affixing our flesh with an image that has some relationship from within our psyche can be a powerful step in a positive direction. Instead of asking your wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend what they think, or watching reruns of “Ink Master”, take some time alone and clear your head. To get a clearer “picture”, take a walk outdoors or spend some time in mediation. Quietude leads to lower blood pressure and less stress, as well as better ideas. My best ideas usually occur while walking or exercising. Our subconscious self tends to speak most often and most clearly when we turn the mental static down and do something that thins out the mental chatter. This interior self often sends us messages in image, sign and symbol, bringing up core desires and issues that we would do better to manifest and solve. These can be in dreams, or daydreams, meditative or contemplative states, and either awake or asleep. Ask yourself what change you would most like to see realized.

3. Seek out the right Tattooist for the job: As tattooing has become more and more mainstream, it seems that there is a new shop everywhere you go and thousands more people trying to break into the craft at every turn. DO NOT have your friend from Burning Man tattoo their first or even tenth “amazing masterpiece” on you.. Sure, you can just walk into a decent shop someplace and have the desired image engraved upon you at a moments notice. Not that instant gratification is inherently a negative – it can be quite nice.. but if you are now entertaining having that image that has been appearing in your dreams the past few months or years tattooed on you, well it might be wise to put in bit of effort to find the right person to put it on. There are many considerations. Location and availability usually play an early part, but the more one considers quality, the less important those become. Perhaps it is a word of mouth referral from a friend or someone who has tattooed you before? Whatever the case, DO go look at the person’s work, and speak to them in person if at all possible. Getting a feel for who they are, their presence, demeanor, work environment, and general vibe are important aspects that will contribute to you finding the artist and experience that is right for you. If you like who they are, you may even make a friend. It is even better if that artist possesses a similar quality of understanding and intention that you are interested in putting toward your project. After all, you will wear it for a lifetime. The project starts with your desire for manifesting change, and the right person is one who will listen to you and feed back ideas and lend their talents and sensibilities to your project without being insulting, belittling or condescending. If they are genuinely interested in your project, it should be fairly obvious to you both.

Such works of everyday magic can be easily overlooked due to the relative ease of access to clean, quality tattooing. However, this strange and wondrous process of putting ink under the skin holds the potential of sacredness that is experienced as a process in which you must move, at the very least into a slightly altered state.

May patience and perseverance be yours,

– Jon Osiris