How I did it: Be surest to have a reason. Wandering in and choosing something from the wall is a recipe for regret. I held onto my design and my reason for five years to see if they were things
that were long-lasting for me; things that would be as relevant to me
thirty years down the road; that I would be still proud of and willing
to display and explain. My reasoning goes like this (yes, I wrote it out for myself when I thought I expressed it well enough):
"Well, you see, it's like this. Take a long look at that creature. No
one ever accused the aardvark of being vain. There's not much to be
vain over. He's got no handsome glare like the leopard or falcon, no sleekness like the cheetah, no graceful curves like the swan. The
aardvark is not breath-taking in the "wonder of nature" department,
he's never been a symbol chosen for the flag of any nation to represent
glory, steadfastness, or grandeur like the eagle or the lion. He's not
intimidating or frightening. No mother panicked as her child leaned
closer to the aardvark enclosure at the zoo. He's not particularly
powerful or awesome; no one marvels at the facts of an aardvark's
strength or stamina dwarfing that of a human's. Frankly, he can't fly,
he doesn't roar, he's not strong, he's not beautiful, he doesn't have
fangs or poison or impressive defensive thingies; in all these ways he
cannot compete with the rest of the animal kingdom, really, at all. but. If
you happen to need an animal to come to your house, dig up a great
towering termite nest with powerful, digging front claws and then
ssssssshlurp up all the little buggers with a long, sticky tongue,
there's no better animal than the aardvark (other than the anteater,
but that's a different Union). In that area for which he is intended,
he is perfectly designed and equipped to be fantastically efficacious. I
remind myself of this. There will ALWAYS be someone richer, more
powerful, more charming, more intelligent, more successful, more
attractive, more fit, more learned, more whatever than I. Yet, for my
intended purpose, I am perfectly designed and equipped to be
fantastically efficacious. I must focus on being the best at what I am,
as is expected of me by my Designer.
Such is the lesson of the aardvark: Be who you aar."
That was (is) my reasoning, which I really don't see changing and I don't mind expressing that thought to any who would question the presence of an aardvark on my arm. Most people knew my belief in this way before I got him put there.
Wait until you're so certain that most of the excitement, the novelty of the idea of getting the tattoo is gone, replaced by a cool certainty that this is the right and correct permanent thing to place on your body.
Then decide where to put it. I bought some temporary tattoo paper from TattooJohnny.com and that helped a great deal in allowing me to see this art on me before it was indelible. I'd really suggest doing the same.
Aside from that, tell everyone you know and respect about your plans to get the design and where you plan to put it. If you can't deal with or don't like their reaction to your idea, you won't like their reaction to the final product. And if you don't care what they think enough to give you pause or stop you, then you've given them time to get used to the idea.
Pay attention to the advice from those who have tattoos already. There are LOTS of sites out there with good common sense tips and points of view. Folks who do this a lot or do this work want to keep as few people out there from grousing about a badly chosen or regretful tattoo. They have good things to say, investigate on your own.
Good luck and sit still. It doesn't hurt enough to not go through with it, if you choose to.
Lessons & tips: Have a reason for whatever design you decide to adopt, and be willing to explain that reason over and over to those who ask. Take your time between choosing a design and stitching it on.
LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS!
Weigh your idea with people you respect. Don't be "married" to a design until you KNOW you want it forever.