Once you have settled on a design and agreed a price with your tattoo artist, the work will begin – either straight away or later, depending upon whether there are any existing appointments.
Firstly, the artist will begin playing around with the design on paper, not on your skin – as no matter how good the artist is, he will still need to envision how the design will work on your skin in regards to proportion, placement, orientation and etc.
Once you and the artist are happy with the design and size, the artist will clean your skin where the tattoo will be applied, probably with an alcohol or antiseptic rub and then swipe your skin with an “adhesive”, usually “Speed Stick”.
The artist will then place the carbon side of the design directly onto your skin and then remove the paper and voila – a carbon line drawing of the design should now be on your skin.
You will then get a final chance to ensure that you are happy with the design, size, placement and etc, once this is agreed, the artist will start getting all his supplies and equipment ready, dispensing various colours of ink into little disposable wells, and rigging a new set of needles into the tattoo machine, and depending upon the design he may need to mix some colours.
Hopefully you will be in a secluded area, as you do not want a lot of traffic walking around or interrupting the artist while he is working on you. Try to find a comfortable position and relax as much as possible, even though you are probably somewhat nervous and excited at the same time. It is better if you don’t have an empty stomach, get a bite to eat about an hour beforehand. Just try to remain calm and not too anxious.
When the artist has finished all his preparatory work, scrubbed and gloved up, you will hear the buzzing sound as the artist starts up the tattooing machine. The artist will then dip the needle into the ink and start work on your skin.
Initially you may feel a small amount of pain and instinctively grit your teeth – others may try and talk to the artist to take their mind off the needle, but whatever you do, try and relax and remember to breathe – don’t hold your breath.
The most painful part of the tattoo will pass within a couple of minutes as your body’s natural pain killers ( endorphins) kick in and you will just feel the vibration and wonder what you were worried about.
If you start to become uncomfortable, shift your position, or if it is more than that, then you can ask your artist for a short break.