Heavily tattooed Jinxi Boo has a dedicated space on her blog on tattooing and the item that caught my eye was the article on how to make it through long tattoo sessions (the other stuff is good, too, so look around!); here’s a snip:
- Eat small snacks when you stop for short breaks. Anything that will give you a little zip and energy back: fruit, nuts, dry cereal, crackers, juice, etc. Just as staying hydrated is essential, so is your maintaining your stamina with little punches of nutrition.
- Don’t psyche yourself out beforehand.
There is a whole list of stuff that might or might not apply to you, but I know that the eating is something I have to remember. I tend to simply soldier through the session and suck it up, but I think I will pack some energy bars the next time and see how that goes. No reason to make it harder than it has necessary and while I had breakfast/lunch before I went to my last session I was really hungry and thirsty by the time it was over, so that was some poor planning on my part. I never had any of the problems like blacking out, but hitting the point where your body says ‘enough’ and your endorphins are depleted is very uncomfortable, to say the least, and that has happened to me before.
As far as tattoo advice goes the only thing I can say is that the design and the vibe has to feel ‘right’ — don’t just get the tattoo because you made the appointment three months ago and now you don’t want to back out even though you’re not feeling 100% sure you want it. If it doesn’t feel right, let the artist know and either work something out or just say good-bye to your deposit and come back another time. Seriously. I have one tattoo where I should have walked out and I didn’t and now I can’t wait to have it covered up at some point.
Eat before you go into a session. Have some water handy during the entire session. Don’t be afraid to ask for a break.
Another thing that works well for when there’s a difficult stretch (like the little piece of skin that connects your arm to your chest, right above the armpit) is to do breathing exercises – breathe deeply in and out and concentrate on the breathing.
A lot of this boils down to one thing: communication, communication, communication. If your artist isn’t a jerk and you aren’t either, that should take care of a whole bunch of problems and prevent (possible) future regrets. (Trust me on this — I have the tattoo to prove it.)
Other than that – it hurts, but not as much as you might think. Personally, getting a back piece is easy, chest and ribs are a bitch! And don’t get me started on the interior of the upper arm — that’s a killer!
And remember: you get what you pay for.
UPDATE: Needles & Sins has a long post on ‘cheating’ with Lidocaine. I have never really thought about that and the first time I specifically asked for some Bactin to be put on my inner upper arm after it was done while the tattoo artist continued on some other parts of the lower arm, because it really, really hurt and the pain wouldn’t subside after he’d stopped working on it.
I don’t really know where I stand on numbing the skin prior to getting tattooed, because the pain has always been such an integral part of the process for me. Not that I enjoy it, but that was just the way it always was…so I think I’d have to think about this for a while…