A guide to physically (and mentally) prepare you for a wonderful tattoo session
So you just made your tattoo appointment.. now what?
Okay so first of all, yay! How exciting!! Getting tattooed is not only exciting, it’s also life changing and can be anxiety producing.
Let me tell you a couple of things to help you prep your mind and your body so you can walk into your tattoo appointment feeling confident.
First; whether or not this is a 1 hour tattoo or a 8 hour tattoo, preparation matters.
Let’s go over the basics.. a healthy person tends to heal wounds and get over illnesses quicker than a non so healthy person right? So first and foremost, make sure you’re walking in to the shop healthy. That means no viruses, no chest congestion, no stomach viruses, and anything else that you associate with being sick. I know you have probably been waiting for months and months and there’s NO way you’re missing this appointment right? Wrong. I’ll reschedule you, just give me 48 hours notice! There’s a couple reasons for this, first of all, your pain tolerance and your patience is way lower, which means my job gets waaaaay harder. Also your immune system is already on overdrive and this classified as overdoing it. You will have a longer and way more challenging heal, trust me, there’s nothing worse than being sick with an infected tattoo.
Another great reason is.. Me! I don’t get sick days, or paid time off. I schedule two sick days a month that always seem to get taken up by a desperate client who needs a reschedule. So if I’m sick, my life is a living hell. Keep me healthy by coming in healthy, easy as that.
Okay so your healthy! Perfect! What else do you need to do?
This doesn’t even necessarily mean just the day of either. I’m talking about drinking at least 70-100 oz of water a way for TWO weeks leading up to your appointment. Dry and dehydrated skin gets irritated SOO much quicker than a person whose getting enough water in the day.
Another important factor is lotion!! Yes, even your thighs guys. If you don’t moisturize everyday, I suggest you look into starting, but if that’s too much of a commitment for you, just start two weeks prior with your water intake!
This all goes into your skin health! Irritated skin means a not so nice picture at the end of our session, which is a huge bummer for both of us. We both want to showcase the work we put in all day, so keep that skin hydrated.
The next point goes for my clients whose appointments are in the summer or who frequent beach vacations.
Use SUNSCREEN! Even before getting the tattoo! It will look so much more vibrant when it’s not on crispy tan skin.
Also I WILL NOT tattoo you if you are burnt/peeling/or it looks like you just came back from Cancun. It’s not healthy to put your skin through that much damage, if you’re going to take the time and wait to get a beautiful piece, and invest countless hours and dollars, just make an extra effort to put some sunscreen on the area we are tattooing!
Another way to ensure you’ll make it through your session is getting a proper nights sleep! This one is a no brainer, we function better with a solid 8 hours under our belt!
Once you’re fully rested, get a big substantial meal in before your session! Low blood sugar leads to passing out, feeling faint, blacking out, sweating, and extra skin sensitivity. A good way to combat low blood sugar is to bring plenty of snacks! I very rarely break for lunch or dinner during the day because longer breaks are not advantageous to my clients. So bring food! Bring something with electrolytes and sugar, and bring candy! This has been known to keep clients feeling more resilient when they have been getting tattooed for 3 or more hours.
Here's one that happens more than you think. Getting drunk the night prior, please try not party the night before! and yes.. I can tell when you have. Alcohol thins blood, so as I’m tattooing you in your hungover state, I’m pumping ink in, and your blood is pushing it right back out, which means your tattoo may heal lighter and not as saturated than it is intended to. This could also lead to other complications during the healing process! Save us all the headache and get drunk a different night:)
One of the biggest factors in tattooing is you. Obviously, you’re the client! This would never happen if you didn’t decide to be here, but there are some specific things you could be doing that negatively impact your artist.
The easiest way to describe this is thinking back to grade school. Have you ever tried to do your homework on the back of a school bus? Have you ever been proud of that homework?
Not only were you probably distracted because there were people chatting with you, but you probably weren't focused on that assignment and your penmanship left something to be desired. That’s exactly what it’s like tattooing a jumpy, loud, in pain person is like. And I’m not judging anyone’s pain tolerance, I know everyone is different but, we all want the same goal right? An amazing tattoo. So how do we get there?
Let’s get one thing straight, tattoos hurt. You can say whatever you want about the subject but I have over 150 hours of tattoo time over half my body. Every tattoo hurts, you don’t have control over that. What you do have control over is how you think about that pain. Let me just lay out a couple things for you, one, you. will. not. die.
The pain that you will endure may be the worst you’ve ever experienced in your life but(!) you will not die. In fact, getting tattooed is a great way to build your mental strength and your pain threshold. You know exactly when the pain will start and stop (queue me tattooing you), which is so rare when considering other ways you tend to experience pain. You even know the source of it, and where it will be! Compartmentalizing that pain and taking away its power to overcome it, will change the way you look at pain as a whole. Learning how to do this successfully will extend your threshold and your mental strength will transcend into other aspects of your life. Applying that to working out may get you that next personal best lift, or a faster 5k; Applying that patience to your work life could get you that promotion, there is endless potential when working on mental strength.
So we know it won’t kill you, but that doesn't stop the searing burning sensation that floods your brain. How do you become the ideal client?
You stop squirming and tensing up and you breathe.
Relaxing your body and saving your energy for this mental battle with yourself is the way to get through anything. Think of it as almost meditative state. Don’t flex your muscles, don’t kick your legs, don’t hold your breath, just breathe and let the feeling take over. Accept that feeling for what it is, and know it will not last forever. Take ownership over that feeling, and tell yourself that this feeling is only temporary. Relax your limbs, relax your mind and tell yourself that this is just the next step to being who you want to be. A super rad tattooed person! And when the pain feels like hot, hot fire, breathe and laugh about how ridiculous it is we choose to do these things to ourselves, then take pride in the effort you put forth. You are stronger than you think.
Some last minute tips! It’s totally okay to be nervous, anxious and scared! Feel free to talk to me about it, I don't judge, I'll help get you through it. Everyone gets the tattoo jitters, it’s totally normal, but don’t let yourself get psyched out! Bring whatever makes you comfortable!! This includes your clothes! Make sure you dress in layers just incase you get too hot or too cold, or both! (bodies are weird). Feel free to listen to your comfort albums or binge the latest season of whatever on Netflix! Bring headphones and your phone or your iPad or whatever. Stay busy, it could be a long couple hours!