Starting university is a time of change – it has to be. You’re most likely moving away from everyone you know, leaving home for the first time and enjoying new found independence. There are so many new experiences to be had at university and for some people this means joining new societies or sports clubs, falling in love with new bands or going travelling. For others it could be getting a tattoo.

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It’s easy to see the increasing popularity and acceptance that tattoos have gained by looking at celebrities such as Cheryl Cole or Harry Styles. They are a more creative and accessible form of body modification compared to piercings or dermals and offer a whole world of self-expression. But what are some of the things you need to take into consideration before getting inked?

Firstly, you should think about why you’re actually getting a tattoo. There are several styles that are fashionable at the moment such as full sleeves, watercolour pieces and quotes with thighs and wrists proving popular in terms of placement. For some people these designs will have personal significance but for others it’s the image itself that appeals. The only issue with this is that trends change as quickly with tattoos as in fashion. A few years ago tribal designs were popular, and back in the 90s barbed wire was a common choice. Something that is fashionable now may not be in a few years. If you are getting a tattoo simply because you like the design, take the time to think about whether you will still like it in ten years time.

This is the second point you need to consider: tattoos are permanent. Laser removal is available but it is both expensive and painful. It can also result in scarring and may not always work. Taking time to think about if you could go off a design is important, whether it is flash work, the generic designs that they have on the walls and in books at a tattoo studio, or an original piece. It sounds obvious but you need to consider if it’s something that you want permanently on your skin.

On a similar note, when thinking about placement you should consider how a tattoo will both age and look to future employers. Your skin stretches and loses elasticity over time, which will affect how your tattoo looks. You don’t want to go through the pain and expense of getting a gorgeous design only to have it stretched beyond recognition. In terms of employers, there is sadly still a stigma attached to tattoos so something that is easy to cover up may be a safer option.

If all this advice hasn’t put you off getting inked, there are some good studios in Norwich that are friendly and have amazing artists. Enter the Void, Factotum and Indigo all have decent reputations and they also have Facebook pages so you can check the artists’ styles out before you let them lose on your skin.