Tattoo Tales: Getting Ink

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Tattoo Tales

This blog is going to be one of the weirder ones in the series I talk about.  There’s a mixture of fact and what works for me.

Now, by this point in the process you know what tattoo you want, where you want it, you’ve talked and probably done a consultation with the artist and have an appointment scheduled.  You really just have to show up to the appointment and hang out while the artist does all the work.

True and False.

What do you wear?

Depending on where your tattoo is, you’ll want to wear clothing that will easily allow for movement and the tattoo to be done.  When I did the tattoo on my back I got an XL shirt, cut straight up the back and then cut strips.  Tying those together crated  the perfect back tattoo shirt.  The artist was able to untie the knots over the area she wanted to tattoo, while leaving my front covered and shop appropriate.  If you’re getting a tattoo in an area like your pelvis, breasts if you’re female or your butt you’re going to have to figure out comfortable ways to cover up because most tattoo shops won’t be able to provide privacy.

Honestly, I still suggest wearing comfortable clothing because you’re going to be uncomfortable enough sitting there enduring the tattoo.  You don’t want to be shifting because of uncomfortable jeans or a top that’s too tight.

What do you bring with you?

I typically sit for long periods of time and lose a small amount of blood. I like to take a few ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory medication, before my session.  You cannot be drunk, high or otherwise on something when you get a tattoo.  Blood thinners and things that mess with your blood will impact the way the tattoo is absorbed into your skin. The more you bleed, the less ink your body will retain.  Therefore, don’t get drunk and get a tattoo. You’ll probably not like it much.

Now, back to what I bring with me! I usually bring a liter bottle of Dr Pepper and some chocolate to keep my blood sugar up. It’s a trick that’s worked for me. After my second long session I noticed how weird I felt, stopped by a gas station and got some sustenance and figured it out. You might want to eat or something prior, or if you have a weak stomach wait until after.  Everyone is different. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you.

The paperwork.

As far as paperwork goes, this is fairly straight forward. Check your states requirements, but in Texas you must show your drivers license or other ID to show that you are over 18. There are other forms to sign that state your basic information and that you understand what it is you’re about to do. Don’t be the dumb ass who forgets their ID, please!

Typically after the paperwork is done you hang out while the artist gets their station set up and the images done. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour if they have to get the image drawn up on the spot.

The tracing image.

I’ve had this done two different ways. The most common is that the artist will have your image put onto tracing paper and printed out on a special printer that creates a transfer image.

A shocker for some people is that the area to be tattooed will be shaved, no matter where it is or how smooth you think you are. I was shocked the first time.

With the area clean the artist can put the image on your skin. This lets you get an idea of what it will look like on. You can talk placement, look at it in a mirror and make some alterations.

Some artists draw the tattoo on you directly using markers or skin pens. I’ve had this done usually with flame work and background images.  It’s pretty cool to think of the skill it takes to free hand something like that, but it does make me nervous.

When you’re set on the placement, you’re ready to start!

The first prick.

I remember the first brush of the needles on my back. I was nervous as hell and had two friends there with me to hold my proverbial hand. I’d talked to a heavily tattooed friend of mine from Chicago before, and she told me to pick a point on the opposite wall and recite something, and focus on breathing.

I picked out a piece of dragon flash art and recited the Lord’s Prayer about five times until I realized that the pain wasn’t that bad. After that it became all fun and games.

For a large part it was because the work being done was line work on my upper back. It wasn’t a lot and it’s an area where I’m not that sensitive about.

Enduring the pain.

This is a completely subjective topic. I’ve found that on areas like across the spine and over bones don’t hurt me – they tickle. Honest to God, I giggle and squirm because it feels like the bones in my toes are vibrating.  However, the more meaty or fattier areas that are supposed to not hurt as much, like the lower back, hurt on me.

I’m going to sound like a Jedi master here, but a lot of the process of handling the pain is mental. I’ve found that areas that only get one or two quick coats of ink during a session don’t hurt so much. I’ve even managed to go to sleep during tattoos.  Yes, I’m that weird person!

On the flip side, my half sleeve hurt like a *bleepity*bleep* bleep*bleep*.

So to take your mind off the pain, I suggest bringing a friend with you and talking to them. I’ve watched movies and played video games with an artists kid before. Heck, I’ve done homework and read and worked on a paper even!

The tattoo is going to hurt. There’s no escaping that, but by focusing on something else you can at least handle it.

So, any questions?

Series Navigation<< Tattoo Tales: Scheduling your appointment.Tattoo Tales: Healing, and everything they don’t tell you about scabs. >>

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