After 32 tattoos here is my advice, take it for what it's worth.
1. For your first tattoo make sure you get it somewhere that YOU are able to see it without contorting into some yoga/Cirque Du Solie position. I say this because if you hate it, you will always be reminded NEVER to get another one, wasting more time and more money.
2. NEVER get words, symbols (including Japanese kanji or Chinese characters... which can be the same but are not), numbers, or letters in your first tattoo. It's a BIG deal to have a word tattooed on you. You may, at this point in time, believe that you are indeed at "Peace" but 5 years down the road you may become a raging homicidal assassin.
I tattooed 3 Hebrew letters on my shoulder about 5 years ago. I was 22 at the time and had already been getting tattooed since i was 18. I have since tattooed more wording and such, including the words Eternity, Death, Warrior, Good, and Evil in Japanese down the back of my head, and the verse Matthew 22:25 on my arm in the origianl Hebrew. The decision to tattoo wording on yourself should not be taken lightly, and should be thought out with even more care than thinking about just getting a tattoo.
3. Know your artist! Look at their work, talk to them, talk to other customers.
My artist is a mother of 2, has a gradutate degree in Fine Art, as the owner of the establishment she displays annual letters from the Board Of Health which discuss the superior condition in which she keeps her business, she also displayes her Red Cross certification in Adult CPR, First Aid, and having passed a course on blood born pathogens.
As for finding the design that fits you, yes tattoo artist should be able to help you. However think about what it is that makes up who you are!
I have tattoos ranging from a sleeve dedicated to Madonna (My right arm contains six images thus far of the iconic performer), to a rose from an illuminated manuscript of the Book of Revelation, to the Marvel Comics assassin Elektra, to a Hello Kitty in combat boots flanked by an angel Kitty and a devil Kitty. All of the 32 tattoos have a story and mean something to me (I break it all down in a Myspace blog www.myspace.com/roccos_confessions).
And i have plans for more tattoos (SO YES... they are indeed addictive). Including a cluster of emeralds, rubies, and diamonds representing my adoration of George Balanchine and my visit to the New York City Ballet and School of American Ballet Theatre this summer (The gems are represented in the Balanchine ballet "Jewels"), continuing my sleeve of Madonna with her represented as Evita, covering my left thigh in an oceanic theme complete with a blue ringed octopus, and a piece by 20's Art Deco Artist Tamara De Lempika.
Think about things that inspired you as a child or inspire you now and research them to find the perfect image for your first tattoo. Think outside the box. Dont think that the image needs to come from a "tattoo" book. It can come from, well a book in the Bible, or a book by an artist, a Greek vase, a comic book, or an issue of National Geographic. The posibilites are ENDLESS and the better the artist the more detailed and exciting you can get with it!
A word on Japanese and Chinese... I'm half chinese, so i can say that much of what gets tattooed on people in those languages doesnt have the same meaning as what they think they are getting. Certain words dont translate into Chinese, such as my "eternity"... there is no word for "eternity" it litterally translates as "forever". Same meaning.
Just don't make the mistake that Britney Spears made. She has a tattoo that is supposed to say "Mysterious". Well that is a tricky word in those languages because you need context words for it to REALLY mean "mysterious". Whenever anyone were to look at the tattoo, they are more likly to, HONESTLY, translate it was "Strange" or "Alien"... not "mysterious!"
As far as employment is concerned, I have a tattoo down the back of my head, and as mentioned I have quite a few on my arms. It hasn't stopped me from being employed by my local government, landing a guest spot this season with the Gem City Ballet and Progressive Dance theater, or stopped me from teaching dance.