Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tattoo Ettiquette: Part 1 - Does it hurt?

A couple of years ago, I spent a summer working the front desk for a tattoo shop.  Working at the front desk involved ringing people up, checking and copying their IDs, cleaning, stocking, etc. but I was also the first line of defense for the tattoo artists against new customers.  Why do tattoo artists hide from new customers you ask?  Because those new to the world of tattooing will ask stupid questions, fail to bring in material to give the artist an idea of what they want, and generally all make the exact same mistakes over and over.

I'd like to share some basic knowledge of tattoo etiquette on this blog as I go.  Let's start with a question I've heard over and over and over and still hear all the time: “does it hurt?”

Yeah, it hurts.  Anyone who tells you it doesn’t hurt at all must have nerve damage because it’s needles going into your skin.  It feels different from a shot because it doesn’t go as deep so while I hate shots, I’m fine with the tattoo needles.  I think what most people mean when they say it doesn’t hurt is that it hurts surprisingly less than you would think it should.  It’s very easy for me to sit for hours at a time getting tattooed while I can’t stand to have my blood drawn for a couple of minutes (I've tried to give blood twice, passed out the first time for 5 minutes, had a seizure the 2nd time, the Red Cross has asked me not to come back).

Even those who dread their first tattoo are always surprised by how easy it is once they get going.  There are spots that hurt more and spots that hurt less, it all has to do with where your nerve endings are and your personal tolerance level.   The least painful tattoo I’ve ever had was the pair I got on my collarbone area.  I felt almost no pain, but the nerve at that spot seemed to be connected to my legs and, for whatever reason, made me want to kick the whole time I was getting tattooed so while it didn’t hurt, it was extremely uncomfortable.  I’ve talked to friend who have gotten tattooed in almost the exact same spot who said it was horribly painful.  There is no right answer because each person's pain threshold will be different so stop asking this question.  If you want a tattoo - suck it up and get one!

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