The title of this article basically explains it all, but this past Tuesday I got my first tattoo. I knew what to expect for the most part, but I also had a few surprises and learned a lot. The information I learned will definitely come in handy when I go for my second one.
I. myself and a lot of other people always have the notorious question floating around in their head. "How bad is it going to hurt?" "What's the pain feel like?" I can understand why tattooed people and tattoo artists can never really give you an answer. In reality, the pain of a tattoo feels like a tattoo. I haven't really felt any other type of pain like it. People say it feels like sunburn, a really bad case of it, though. I can't say it felt like that, but after the tattoo itself was over it stung for a bit that I could relate to a bad sunburn. During the actual tattooing process, the pain I felt was more of a sharp burning sensation. I used sharp, because, well not sugar coating it you're having needles repeatedly stabbed into you that is going to cause some sharp pain, but at the same time it was tolerable. I heard some other people say it was like a cat scratch, but my cat scratched me last week and that was not how the tattoo felt to me. The act of tattooing is having multiple needles penetrated through the second layer of your skin repeatedly. I really don't think you can compare tattoo pain to anything else in this world simply because it's nothing you ever felt before until you go under the needle. I can't really help you with a true example of what the pain feels like, but there is good news. The pain you feel while getting tattooed is rather tolerable, granted you get it in the less sensitive areas. If you choose to get it in a very sensitive area as your first tattoo that is up to you, but the pain is going to be more unbearable. That being said if you choose those areas it is completely fine to ask the artist, "Hey, is it alright if we take a break for a minute or two?" The Artist doing your tattoo wants to make sure you're comfortable, calm and trusting of him so asking for a break here and there to take a breather is a-OK. If you're still a person who is really worried about the pain and that is basically making you stay away from tattoos even though you want one really bad. If you happen to know an artist or a friend's artist simply ask them if they could do a test drive for you. What I mean by this is that they won't inject ink into your skin, but simply use water and a tattoo needle. They could do a line or a circle or two so you can get an idea of what the pain is like and if you think you can take it. If you find that the pain wasn't as bad as you thought, which is actually what happened to me. Then you can reconsider getting your tattoo done without the fear of unexpected pain.
This was a stage I was unaware of when getting a tattoo. I was sitting in the chair getting tattooed and everything was going great. I was about half way done and the needle started to approach my tendon that pops up out of your wrist in most people (Palmaris longus muscle). After the needle crossed that tendon it was black out zone. I was told by my artist that some people faint and such from getting a tattoo the first time, but I was never a person to faint at the sight of needles, or blood, or anything, so I thought I was in the clear. As the needle went over that tendon I got severely nauseous and my vision became rather blurry and black. It wasn't necessarily the whole tattoo process that got to me it was just that one tendon. It wasn't long till I was back to normal, waited 10 minutes, and things started to subside. During this time my Artist gave me a bottle of water and a glucose tab as well as an ice pack. It was the strangest thing to me that this occurred considering I was completely fine for half the tattoo, and it just snuck up on me and that was it. I have good news, though, after the 10 minutes passed I drank some water, ate the glucose tab and I was back to normal; felt a hell of a lot better as well. We continued the tattoo completely finishing it and going over the same area that gave me that blackout two more times everything was fine. It was an odd occurrence and a rather strange feeling, but in the end, it all worked out. If you're getting a tattoo done and start to feel odd and out of place make sure to tell your artist. It's more than likely your adrenaline is kicking in or your blood sugar dropped. You're not the first person who experienced this and your artist will be able to help you, but you need to speak up -- they can't read minds.
Nerves. We all get them and that is completely okay. I don't know about you, but needles in general freak me out, I hate blood work and getting shots at the doctors. It was only reasonable that I had the same opinion about tattoo needles, but I am less afraid of those than I am of the one's doctors and hospitals use. As the tattoo started out I refused to look, thought it'd be easier that way. Just look at the artwork and stare at the wall and wait 'till it's over. I, however, found out after the whole black out stage occurred that I calmed my nerves more by watching the tattoo be completed. It was rather relaxing watching the needles go in and out of my skin leaving ink behind, I thought it'd be the opposite, but in a way it gave me a sense of control in the situation the needles were producing a work of art and it was my choice. It's clear that I really had zero control over the situation since I wasn't the one doing the tattoo, but it helps your nerves to make yourself think you do. I finished up the tattoo process by continuing watching the needles and the ink. It made it seem like the process went a little faster too since I was calmer.
This seems like a no-brainer, but I met a couple of people who never researched the artist or shop they went to. They just did it for the sake of doing it. The problem with this is you tend to end up with a tattoo you didn't exactly imagine in your head. A lot of artists have a certain type of tattoo style they're good at; if you go to a tattoo artist who specializes in new school type tattoos and you want a portrait tattoo, chances are that the tattoo isn't going to turn out how you thought it would. After hearing and seeing some tattoo horror stories where things didn't turn out, I went and did my extensive research. I knew that the artist I went to was good at doing line work, which was what my first tattoo is. I went to the studio never previously meeting my artist, but since I did my research and got a couple recommendations I had confidence that he would be able to get the job done. I was right. I had the confidence that he would do a good job, but at the same time I had the nerves, it wasn't that I didn't trust him it was just a crazy experience. However; my artist was a really cool guy who was fun to talk to and very relatable, which makes the whole situation a lot more calm and bearable. If you have an artist that you can relate to and hold a general conversation with that will make your tattoo or first tattoo experience 10 times better. If you end up with an artist who is odd and strange and you feel awkward and weirded out it's going to be a bad time for you and your artist. It's best to do your research you will thank yourself later for taking that precaution.
In the end, a tattoo artist can make or break your first tattoo experience or any tattoo experience for that matter. Take the time to research and choose wisely.
Ink on, my friends!