This is usually the first question that most people ask before getting a tattoo. The short answer is “Yes, it does hurt.” However, the real question to ask is “How much does it hurt?”
It’s actually not as bad as you think it is. A tattoo machine has a cluster of needles that pierce your skin very rapidly. Instead of a poking sensation, the feeling is more like a constant vibration. If you have a low tolerance to discomfort it will probably bother you. Your body adjusts itself to this very quickly by releasing endorphins (pain killers), which dulls the pain significantly.
Please note that the pain will vary according to where on your body you get worked on. Areas where you have lots of muscle will absorb the needle better and as a result hurt less. Places that are directly above the bone (such as the ankle, ribs or collarbone) tend to be more painful than other areas, as well as places with high nerve concentrations like the inner arm or thigh.
As to where it hurts most, there are no hard and fast rules about this. In general, based on many opinions over the years, here are some ideas:
Most Painful Areas:
Abdomen, Ankle, Collarbone, Chest, Ribs, Spine,
Least Painful Areas:
Arm, Thigh, Shoulder
Again, these are just opinions. One man’s pain is another’s pleasure, so do not let this list deter you if you really want a tattoo on your spine or ankle.
If you are really worried about pain, speak to the artist who will tattoo you beforehand. He should be able to allay your fears and make recommendations for a more pleasant experience. Do not self-medicate (with other alcohol or drugs) as this may interfere with the tattooing process.
2. What should I get? And where?
This is all a matter of personal taste. You can pretty much get whatever you want. There are basically two types of tattoos: flash, and custom. As you probably guessed, “custom” means that you have a unique design you would like to have tattooed in mind. “Flash” are the stock designs you see on the walls of our shop. Your only limit is really your own imagination.
Keep in mind that you aren’t limited to the flash as it is displayed at the shop. If you like a particular flash piece but want modifications made to it, just ask. Our artists will gladly modify pieces, add details, etc. However, please be aware that these pieces are pre-priced and that making alterations may increase the price.
If you’d like to have a custom piece done, be sure to bring all relevant art in when you visit the shop. You will need to give the artist time to draw the piece up for you (unless it is line work or easily reproducible), so don’t expect to receive your tattoo on the same day. For more information on how we treat custom pieces at our listed studios, visit our Custom section under Tattoos
As far as where you should get it, just keep in mind what you do for a living and the type of social circles you are in. It’s great to see that many white-collar professionals are getting tattooed these days. It is becoming more mainstream and acceptable on all levels of education, background, and professions. Unfortunately, though, this does not mean it is acceptable to the employers or clientele of the professional worker. Before putting a tattoo in a very visible area of your body, you will want to consider how it will affect those around you.
3. How much is it going to cost?
Price varies according to size, complexity, and time involved. When it comes to tattoos, you get what you pay for. Yes, there are plenty of people tattooing out there that will tattoo you cheaply, and you’ll be crying to a real artist to have it covered up. Look for quality, and be willing to pay for it. It is disrespectful to haggle with an artist over the price of a tattoo. Remember, a tattoo is a piece of art you will wear for the rest of your life. If you can’t pay for the piece you have in mind, speak with the artist. He may be able to design a smaller piece or tailor your piece to meet your budget.
4. Is tattooing safe?
Yes, tattooing is safe. At our listed studios we practice proper sterilization and infection control standards. Basically, this means anything that comes in contact with blood/body fluids at our shop is either disposed of (single-use) or sterilized (autoclaved).
We practice Universal Precautions which means that all infection control procedures and practices are followed all the time. No exceptions.
We take pride in our safe tattooing procedures and don’t mind answering any questions or concerns you might have. For more information on our health practices, visit our Health section.
5. Can a tattoo be removed or covered by another tattoo?
Yes. Modern laser technology can effectively remove most tattoos within a few visits. However, removal is much more expensive than the original tattoo and does leave some light scarring. The best method is laser removal in which a laser vaporizes the ink particles in the skin. This can only be performed by a certified medical doctor, not a tattooist. A tattooist can cover an existing tattoo with another tattoo. All of the artists at our listed studios have had experience with covering up old/bad tattoos.
6. Can I get AIDS from a tattoo?
First off, there has never been a documented case of AIDS transmission from tattooing. Second, it takes 10 microliters (equivalent to 10 drops) of blood and deep intramuscular puncture to transmit the HIV virus. Since tattoo needles are solid core (not hollow like a syringe) and the tattoo is applied just beneath the skin’s surface, it is highly unlikely.
In a professional licensed tattoo studio that maintains a strict method of sanitation, there is no chance of getting the HIV/AIDS virus. For more information on our health practices, visit our Health section.
7. If I have dark skin can I still get a Tattoo?
Yes. At our listed studios Tattooing, we pride ourselves on the work we do on dark skin, and on the results we obtain. We assist our customers in choosing and adapting a design that will be bold and show contrast well.
Our artists also take into consideration your skin tone. People on the lighter side can have more colours tattooed, whereas those with really dark skin are often encouraged to use blacks and greys.
8. Why shouldn’t I drink alcohol or do drugs before I get tattooed?
You don’t want to drink alcohol because it thins out your blood. By doing this you bleed more, making it difficult for the tattoo artist to see what he is doing. It will also hurt more. Bleeding excessively pushes the ink out as the tattoo artist is trying to put the ink in. This forces the artist to go over the area being tattooed a lot more.
Also intoxicated or “high” people can not sit still for long. This makes it very hard for the artist to tattoo you properly. In most cases an artist will not touch you.
9. Can the sun fade out my tattoo?
Yes. Lighter colours tend to fade first: white, yellow, light blue, etc. The quality of pigments used, and how well the tattoo was applied are direct factors in the longevity of a tattoo. A top quality, professional tattoo will last a lifetime with good initial care and a little sun block. Also, the lighter the skin tone, the brighter the colours will be. You can prevent fading from happening by putting the highest protection sun block on your tattoo when going in the sun.
10. When is the best time of year to get a tattoo?
You can get a tattoo any time of the year. But if you get tattooed in the winter or autumn, your tattoo has more time to heal before it is exposed to the harsh elements of summer. Most people get tattooed in summer and skimp on healing/protecting their tattoos because they want to go out and have fun. Swimming in chlorinated pools and getting suntans are fun summer activities but they are also detrimental to the longevity and healing of a tattoo.
11. How long do I have to wait before I can resume normal activities?
It takes four weeks for a tattoo to heal (a year for it to be fully healed). On average, you should wait about two weeks before going back to any activity that may seriously rub on the tattoo, such as working out. You should wait about four weeks before swimming in chlorinated pools, exposing the tattoo to sun, etc.
12. If I gain or lose weight, will it affect my tattoo?
Not usually. The skin has a lot of elasticity (stretch) that naturally adjusts for changes in the body. During pregnancy, a woman’s abdomen will stretch considerably and tattoos along the waistline will be distorted, but once the body returns to normal, the tattoo will take its original shape. Building muscles won’t affect the shape of a tattoo, but may make it look smaller on the enlarged surface area.