As long as you go to a reputable artist that is following all recommended safety precautions, getting a tattoo is perfectly safe. Make sure you’re fully honest about any medical conditions.
Pain is really relative. Everyone has a different tolerance for pain. We’re not going to kid you, though—it does hurt. Just not that much. Some have compared it to a “hot scratching feeling.” But, people would not be returning again and again for tattoo after tattoo if it hurt that bad. Most of us are not into pain, but the beauty of the tattoo and the pride associated with wearing it far outweighs a little pin-stick here and there.
When it comes to tattoos, you get what you pay for. Yes, there are plenty of people tattooing out there that will charge very little. But, look for quality, and be willing to pay for it. Never haggle over the price of a tattoo. It is disrespectful to the artist. Think of it this way: This is a piece of art you’ll wear for life.
This is all a matter of personal taste. You can get whatever you want, and whatever your artist is willing to do. You can choose a picture off the wall, or you can have them create a custom piece just for you. Your only limit is your own imagination. As far as where you should get it goes, just keep in mind what you do for work and the type of social circles you are in. You might want to consider placing your tattoo where it can be easily covered up with normal clothing.
If you’re getting a tattoo, especially as an expression of your individuality, why would you want a tattoo just like someone else’s? Instead, find other pictures of what you’re looking for and have your artist draw up a custom design for you. Example: If you are wanting a tattoo of a penguin standing on a glacier, find real photos of penguins and glaciers. If you want a tattoo of a blue rose wrapped around a cross, find pictures of real roses and crosses that you like. If the pictures don’t show exactly what you want, just take them to your artist to use them as guidelines and tell them what changes you want to be made to the original pictures. A real artist will welcome the challenge of a custom piece.
Do not let them do it. Your friend could be putting both of your lives in danger by foolishly trying to learn this at home. Tell them they need to get a proper apprenticeship, and they can start practicing on you when their mentor (master) feels they are ready.