In our first instalment, I talked to you guys about the ‘before’ process in getting your tattoo.
It probably frustrated a lot of people that I didn’t get into the real meat of actually getting tattooed, but I wouldn’t have felt comfortable without laying the whole process out, I wouldn’t have been giving you the whole picture.
So today let’s focus on the super fun and pretty painful bit! ‘During’!
GET THERE ON TIME!
I shouldn’t really have to say this at all. As a responsible adult, who has taken the time to get to this point and book your appointment, you should WANT to be there on time!
Being late creates all kinds of problems for yourself and your tattoo artist. If you’re rushing and get there late, you’re going to create a bit of tension from the offset, and work yourself up. This isn’t good, as you’re spending the next few hours with this person tattooing your skin. You don’t want to create an awkward environment, or make your tattoo artist think you’re not as serious as you should be about your appointment.
If you think you are going to be late, for whatever reason, just call ahead and let your artist know. Then apologise when you get there. Artists understand that there are some things you just can’t control, but if you give them the heads up, they can be sure you are still coming, and you’re not going to be a no-show.
DON’T BRING AN ENTOURAGE
Unless previously agreed with your artist, it’s not usually a good idea to bring friends with you to watch you get tattooed.
Having friends and family present can be distracting for both yourself and your tattoo artist. Your guest may feel the need to give their opinion on the design of your tattoo, or may create an atmosphere that puts the artist under great pressure.
I feel most comfortable when I turn up to my appointments alone, as I can really connect with my tattoo artist and create a very personal experience.
BE PATIENT AND BE HONEST!
Your artist will have to set up for your appointment, so you may have a little wait at the studio. There will sometimes be a selection of tattoo magazines for you to flick through, and you may even be offered a cup of tea while you wait. Modern tattoo studios are very welcoming places, and nothing like the stereotypical, intimidating, testosterone filled shops of the past.
Your artist will show you a line drawing of your tattoo around this point.. They want to know whether this is what you had in mind, and they want you to be honest. If you have communicated with your artist well up to this point, it will be everything you hoped for and more!
If there are elements that you would like to change, your tattoo artists needs to know this. They are aware that this piece is on you forever, and they want to give you the best! Things like sizing, positioning of small elements like background flowers etc, colour choices, wording positioning and the actual positioning of the tattoo on your body, can all be tweaked a little before you start. Please don’t be afraid of asking for something like this to be changed!
If you find you totally hate the design (which is very unlikely if you have done your research), then you must still say something. It’s likely in this case that you would have to re-arrange your appointment, and you may lose your deposit. Please do not argue with your tattoo artist about this, they need time to make sure they get your vision right!
When you are happy with your design, it’s time to apply the carbon paper transfer to your skin! At this point, it all gets pretty real, and nerves may kick in…
These days, I’m usually excited about getting tattooed. I tend to prepare myself for the inevitable pain by just letting myself get super stoked about the design itself!
If this is your first tattoo, I’m not going to tell you it doesn’t really hurt, or it’s not as bad as you think (because I don’t know what you are thinking) But I will say, it’s really not the worst pain in the world. At all. You can deal with it, and as soon as it’s over, you will forget all about it.
If you feel you are panicking, faint, nervous or sick, please tell your artist immediately. They will only start your tattoo when they know you are comfortable. Take a breather, pop to the loo, make sure you are comfy in the chair and keep yourself calm.
During your tattoo, you may find there are a number of things you can do to distract from the pain. I like to count things, like ceiling tiles or floorboards, I don’t know why it works, but it does! I also find that watching the artist working on the tattoo calms me down, but I guess that makes me weird because most other people I know HATE watching it. Just do what you think is best!
Some of the time, you may find that an artist doesn’t seem to say much. This is because a lot of artists take their cues from you, as their customer. They do not want to distract or upset you by talking to you, if you don’t deal well with conversation whilst being tattooed. Don’t let this put you off starting a conversation though, as conversation is one of the best ways of managing pain and creating a distraction for you.
I will mention at this point, that a real studio doesn’t work like the ones you see on those tattoo ‘reality’ TV shows. You’re artist is not there to be your therapist, and it can be a little odd for them to have to listen to someone pour their heart out, and explain their reasons for getting a tattoo. If you want to talk about it, that’s great, but try keep it light and concise. On TV, the customers share their long and elaborate stories for the benefit of the cameras and the audience at home. There are no cameras here, so you really don’t have to lay it on thick.
Have a laugh and a joke, or sit in the peaceful quiet. Either is good, just make sure you are doing everything you can do to create a positive and awesome atmosphere!
Need a pee? Need to wiggle your fingers, stretch your arm/leg/torso or take a five minute breather? Let your artist know! They can’t read your mind, and they want you to be as comfortable as possible whilst they work on your tattoo.
It can be hard, but it’s best to keep as still as possible while the artist is actually working on your skin. Moving a little to get comfortable is fine, but usually it is best if you let them know you need to reposition yourself.
It is important to remember that there is absolutely no need to cause a scene for attention. Your artist is already giving you and your tattoo all of their attention, and it is actually very distracting for them if you wiggle , scream, squeal, shriek and cry for dramatic effect. In the long run, if you squirm around and cause the tattooist to have to stop and start the whole way through, you may end up having to pay more, as the tattoo took longer than expected. Try to keep those yelps and wriggles to yourself, it’s in your best interests to stay still and try not to whinge and be negative!
DON’T BE NOSEY
There’s nothing wrong with asking questions, but please be aware of what you are asking. It’s fine to enquire about things, but most tattoo artists find it distracting and unsettling if customers ask questions about brands of ink, types of machines, and other industry specific paraphernalia.
They know you are just curious, but they may want to keep some things to themselves. If you want to know about the sterilisation of equipment, and issues that affect you as the customer, your tattoo artist will be happy to speak to you about these aspects, and I would be worried if they didn’t want to.
Tattooing is an art form, and an incredibly difficult industry to get started in. It is very likely your tattoo artist has worked hard to collect knowledge and learn about tattooing specifics, and it is not really the ‘done thing’ in the industry to then impart this closely guarded knowledge willy nilly on everyone who asks.
When your tattoo is done, your artist will explain the aftercare process to you. You need to listen to their advice and follow it to the letter. If you do not feel the advice they have given is adequate, please ask them to explain or elaborate, so you can really understand the best way to care for your healing tattoo.
ALWAYS say thank you, that’s just good manners!
You should always bring plenty of money with you to pay for your tattoo. If you have been given a quote, try bring a little more, just in case. This means you can avoid embarrassing and unnecessary trips to a nearby cash point after your tattoo!
When the time is right, your artist may ask you to move to the reception area to make you payment, or wait until you indicate that you are ready. It can be a little awkward at this point, as paying for a tattoo is nothing like buying something from a shop, but I usually say something like ‘what’s the damage?’, ‘let’s square up!’ or simply ‘how much do I owe you?’. Keeping it light stops it from being awkward.
It is not compulsory to tip your tattoo artist, but it is polite and nice. Obviously it’s not always easy to afford this, as you may have had to save very long and hard to pay for the tattoo itself, but if you do have enough to say an extra ‘thank you’, it can be a great way of letting your artist know how much you appreciate their hard work, and it also helps to build a relationship with your artist. Everyone likes to be appreciated! It’s totally your call, but please at least consider it!
That’s all for the time being, check back in a couple of days, when I will share a short guide on the ‘After’ aspects of your tattoo!
Thanks for reading!