Want a big tattoo but not sure if you have what it takes to earn it?
How strong is your pain threshold? How do you know?
Today I’ll talk a little about my experience with tattoos and pain.
How much will it hurt?
That’s the magic question most clients ask while planning a tattoo. The answers us tattooers give ya’ll can definitely vary.
For small tattoos I would say, yeah, of course it’s gonna hurt; it’s a tattoo. Just hang in there, try to breathe, and don’t fucking move for X amount of minutes and you’ll survive, no sweat.
But as we all know, everybody is different and has a different tolerance to pain, which makes it pretty difficult to predict, especially for first timers.
I have spent six hours on one client’s rib cage while he sat like a rock (pretty sure he slept half the time), and I’ve also had a client who screamed in my ear while I did a two-line minimalist-style cross on the forearm. Why such a big difference?
Let’s break down a few main factors that contribute to pain on tattoos.
How big is the tattoo? This one’s a no-brainer. Bigger tattoo = more time in the chair.
Is it in a tender area? Ribs, feet, elbow/knee ditches, or basically any area that has thin skin and little to no muscle behind it is more likely to hurt than a muscular area with thicker skin.
How long will the session take? Are you going to complete it in one sitting or are you committing to several sessions?
Does it hold a lot of detail? Certain styles like color or black and grey realism can take a lot of time, whereas other styles like American traditional and minimalism are a lot faster.
Are they known for efficient work? Are they light or heavy handed? Are you getting a tattoo in a style they are familiar with? How long did your artist say it would take? Is it a time frame you’re comfortable with?
How bad do you want it? Have you been tattooed before and know what to expect? Are you in good health? Do you come prepared to your appointment with a full belly and a get’er done attitude? Or are you nervous and unsure about the whole thing?
These and so many other factors contribute to your experience on tattoos and pain.
In my experience, it all comes down to your attitude. The times that I’ve been super stoked and confident in the artist and design, I’ve always found a way to sit it out and earn my tattoo.
Now, there have been times I was uncomfortable with the design, artist, or just not really into it, and it really sucked. No tattoo hurts worse than getting a tattoo you don’t truly want.
The Day Of
So now you’ve found an artist whose style was exactly what you’re looking for.
You’ve both agreed on a design, placement, price, timeframe, and your appointment can’t come quick enough.
But it’s your first big session and you’re worried you might not sit too well.
Here are a few tips for helping you get through that long tattoo session:
- Come with a full belly. Being fully fed will help reduce possible nausea and lightheadedness.
- Bring some sugary drinks and snacks. Having some extra sugar in your blood will help reduce bleeding and give you energy.
- Be mentally prepared. If it was easy everyone would do it. Try to embrace the pain and remember your reasons for doing this.
- Bring headphones and a fully charged battery. Whatever helps you get in the zone and pull it together. Sometimes your studio’s music choice might not be down your alley.
- Don’t drink the night before. This is a big one. Having a hangover lowers your pain tolerance a lot, and alcohol thins out your blood which can push out the new ink you’re paying for. There will be plenty of time to drink after your tattoo is done.
So there you have it folks. Hopefully, this advice helps you to make the right tattoo choices and helps better your tattoo experience.
Thanks for reading and see you soon. Your local tattooer, Dave.