Tattoo Advice and History > Tattoo Advice > Does It Hurt?


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Along with the "What should I get?" question, I can easily say that the "Did that hurt?" inquiry is asked just as frequently. Now I know that you will hear all variations of this answer from all varieties of tattoo collectors and that truly, no two people perceive pain the same (and how would that be measured anyway, right?), but when I reply to this all-important query, I always say, "To be honest, they all hurt."
Certainly, some areas hurt more than others. The location of the piece, the artist tattooing you, your physical health and stamina at the time, the length of the tattoo session; these all factor significantly into the level of pain that you experience. But come on, even in the "easiest" of spots (if there is one), they at least sting, and even stinging equates pain of some sort.
The short answer is that until you experience it and learn your threshold for pain, it's hard to describe to anyone just how tough (or easy) it will be. Don't psych yourself out though. Don't panic. Don't think that you can't handle it. Just look around and you will notice that a huge portion of the population now wears at least one tattoo. Each of them made it through their sitting, so there is a really great chance that you will breeze by as well. Think positively and believe in the control that you have over your mind and body.

I know it might sound lame, but I always mentally prepare for my tattoo days, which I lovingly refer to as my Rex Manning Days (check out Empire Records if you don't get that reference). For days and weeks ahead of time, I visualize and gear up in advance so that when the day comes, I'm ready to go and excited to add to my art collection. When I get tattooed by DeVries, I frequently sit for seven to eight hour sessions and I have found that preparing mentally beforehand really does help me to manage the pain throughout. I silently send myself positive reinforcement reminders as I'm sitting for these length of time and it helps, it really does.

I also always seem to get "in a zone." I'm not sure how to explain that except that if it's really painful, I just let my mind wander off and try to remove the focus from what hurts and onto other things. As my artists can all attest, I talk A LOT during tattoos and while it's true that I just have a big mouth and am quite the rambler, I think hidden behind that is the basis that talking to other people gets my mind OFF of the pain and into another world for as long as I can occupy it.

The main thing with the pain thing is to know that your body is capable of great feats. Going into the sitting with a positive mind set will result in a positive experience. Even if it hurts, remember how awesome the end result is when you walk out the door with a beautiful new piece. Knowing that somehow always makes it worth the ride.

Last updated on September 15, 2009 by Jinxi Boo