Home of Rhett & Link fans - the Mythical Beasts!
Working as a lifeguard I have been afforded the experiencing many tattooed people where their tattoos are most apparent. This being the case I wanted to take some time to give advice to the younger minds, though I am not absolutely far removed from you, being only 20, but very close to those who are almost old enough to get them by themselves. And though I don't have any tattoos myself, I have a pretty good view of what they look like.
1. Age: Though at 18 you are legally allowed to get a tattoo by yourself, you are at the time where you know the least about yourself and are about to go through major changes in the way you think, the things you value and your goals in life: so tell me, is it wise to go get something (nearly) permanently marked on your body? What you think is cool today, you may think otherwise when you have much different interests. This age group is more of finding out who you really are and so a tattoo may quickly become obsolete in what you stand for.
2. Design: A guy who was on my dorm floor last year had multiple tattoos, all of which he now regrets. His advice is if you think you like a design, think about it for 5 years, then if you still think that's a good idea, you can consider getting it, but don't just get one for the heck of it. I have seen too many people with a mottled collection of tattoos that don't really go together and are not appealing (something to remember when the tattoo addiction kicks in. From what I've seen, abstract things tend to look better than actual images, especially when having multiple ones (read the short story "Parker's Back", by Flanery O'Conner)
3. Sentimental Value: A lot of people get tattoos that are memorials or have sentimental value of some sort. This is fine, but can lead to either some tattoo regrets or some just plain bad looking tattoos. Names of passed love one's aren't as prone to problems as living people. I would advise avoiding any prior-to-marriage names in case it heads south and you are stuck with "your one true love's" name emblazoned on you bicep to remind you of the pain of the break up when you get it removed. Also, not to offend anyone, but I would stay away from tattooing children's faces on you, unless the artist is superbly talented, it's kind of creepy.
4. Placement: This is one of the big things to think about. If it's visible when you are wearing normal clothes it makes job finding a little harder, sorry but the tattoo prejudice has not been completely abolished. ON the other hand, if no one will see it half the time, is it worth getting, and if pretty much no one will see it ever, why get it? Just a piece of advice, avoid the stomach area near the navel, it doesn't look good, I'm sorry. From personal observation anything from the breast bone down should be left alone. The sides are a little more tasteful, and shoulder blades etc… Just pick the place wisely.
Anyway, that's my two cents, you can take it or leave it. The biggest thing I want to stress is wait until you figure out who you are before you try to permanently mark yourself with who you think you are.