Does it hurt?
Yes it does, but it isn’t that bad. Actually, a lot depends on where you want to get your tattoo. Thinner more sensitive skin or places with lots of nerve endings tend to hurt the most. Your sternum, ribs, hands, and feet are some of the most sensitive spots. Next most sensitive areas tend to be your ankles, lower back, neck, under arm, and bikini area. The least sensitive areas are your upper arms or forearms, calves, shoulder blades, outer thigh, and butt. Please, however, remember that the tattoo process is different for everyone. So a spot that you might find to be painful might actually be almost comfortable to someone else! Also, your life experiences can contribute to how well you tolerate the process. Women who have had children or people who have been through surgeries or accidents often say that tattooing is just not that big of a deal, whereas people who have never experienced much pain often find tattooing to be more difficult or even “quite” painful. We frequently tell people that if it really hurt that bad we wouldn’t be doing tattoos all day long!
What does it feel like?
Most people will describe it as a scratching, burning sensation, not unlike scratching a sunburn or a cat scratch. We have often heard comparisons to electrolysis or getting a hair cut with a dull razor. A lot of people will ask if it’s at all like getting a shot; it isn’t. The tattoo process doesn’t penetrate through the skin, only into it. Literally, a paper cut is deeper. Also, the machines move so fast that each tiny hole that the needle makes doesn’t register as a separate feeling but as a general irritating, vibrating sensation. Having said all of that, it really doesn’t compare to anything else and is quite a unique feeling.
How long does it take to get a tattoo?
It completely depends on the size and complexity of the tattoo you choose. Small, simple pieces can sometimes be completed in as little as 5 minutes. Pieces that have more detail and color changes will increase the length of the process. Areas of the body that are more stretchy, such as stomachs and lower backs, will also increase the time. Large custom pieces may require enough time to complete that they need to be broken into multiple sessions. Most importantly, how you handle the process can dramatically increase or decrease the amount of time it takes your artist too get through your piece. If you are able to calm yourself as much as possible and sit still your artist can complete your piece with more speed and accuracy.
How long does it take to heal?
Generally, in 24 to 48 hours your tattoo will begin to peel. Expect to see some of the color or black come off with this peeling layer. Usually at this time the risk of infection is diminished as your tattoo now has a protective layer over it but you can still introduce harmful bacteria by scratching. Usually most of the peeling and flaking has dissipated after two weeks and they will look presentable at this point, although they are not fully healed yet. Most people require around 6 to 8 weeks for the tattoo to be completely healed and ready for a touch-up if required. However, some people can take months to heal completely. A lot of this depends on age, health, diet, medication, alcohol and drug consumption, and care of the tattoo after the process is complete.
How do I care for my tattoo?
Your artist will verbally explain aftercare and give you an aftercare brochure after your tattoo has been completed, but here is a condensed version of what we suggest. We will bandage the tattoo before you leave the shop. You need to leave it on for one to two hours. We have had really good success with having people get in the shower after the one to two hours is up and running hot (as hot you can stand) water over the tattoo (do not let it hit the tattoo directly, rather let it run over the area). People who have followed this advice find that scabbing and peeling are greatly reduced. Afterwards, pat the area dry with a clean towel, then apply a very thin layer of white unscented hand lotion. Continue to apply lotion at least three times a day, or more if the tattoo is feeling dry or tight for the next two weeks. No direct sunlight for three weeks and no underwater for ten days, no scratching, which can cause staph infections. You don’t want to rebandage it; you don’t want to sleep on it. Wear loose clothing (avoid socks on an ankle piece or an elastic waist band on a lower back piece). If you can, go back and see your artist after six weeks to see if any touch up work is necessary. Once the tattoo has healed completely, be sure to use a high SPF sun screen if you plan to be out in the sun. This will help protect the color and clarity of your tattoo for the rest of your life.
How old do I have to be?
In the state of North Carolina 18, NO EXCEPTIONS. If you are outside NC, check with your local shop to see what the state laws might be.
Will the tattoo change if my body changes (working out, weight loss or gain, pregnancy)?
Yes it can. Depending on how much you change will determine how much it affects the tattoo. Typically when men or women workout, they have to drastically change in muscle mass to stretch out a piece. The result in this case is that the tattoo may be lighter as well as somewhat distorted. Pregnancy will definitely alter tattoos on the stomach, usually permanently. Weight gain or loss needs to be pretty significant to visibly change a tattoo but can definitely alter its shape.
Which areas of the body are most resistant to change?
Lower legs and feet. Shoulder blade. Forearm. Back of neck.
Can a tattoo cover a scar or a existing tattoo?
Frequently scars can be covered. It does however depend on the severity and maturity of the scar. In general, a scar should be at least one year old. Also, if the scar is extremely raised, then that skin may not accept ink successfully. As far as covering up existing tattoos, that can generally be done. Typically a new piece is two to three times the size of the original to achieve a successful cover up.
Can I bring in my own design, or can you draw one for me?
Definitely on both counts. We encourage customers to bring in their own designs or let us draw one for you. This way you’re more likely to get an original piece. Please be aware that if you bring in your own drawing or design we will most likely have to alter it so that it will produce a successful tattoo design.
Can I bring a friend in the room with me?
We allow one other person in the room while we’re working, just to avoid accidents and maintain a safe environment. It is absolutely fine to bring in a friend, relative, or partner for moral support but children under 10 are not allowed in the work room and can not be left unattended in the shop. Please make arrangements for child care if you are coming without another adult. If small children are being too disruptive we may ask you to leave if we are having trouble concentrating on work in progress.
Is there any reason why someone shouldn’t get a tattoo?
Pregnant women shouldn’t get a tattoo, and people with a lot of chemical sensitivities or allergies should at least discuss this with their artist and doctor prior to getting work done. Also anyone with immuno-depressed diseases who normally have difficulty healing on their own. Those with advanced diabetes should not be tattooed, particularly in the lower leg area.
Can I get AIDS or hepatitis from the tattoo process?
No, you definitely can’t get AIDS or hepatitis from a shop that is diligent about providing new and sterile needles, maintaining a clean environment and using aseptic techniques. It is however possible to contract various forms of staph infections after the tattoo process as the skin is open and compromised for a short period of time. Health care workers or people living in dorms, barracks, or other highly populated living situations are particularly at risk. We will give you clear aftercare instructions with tips on avoiding this problem.
It’s up to you to investigate the reputation of your potential shop prior to getting a tattoo and we are more than happy to answer your questions about ours. We are also happy to give you a tour of the shop and explain our sterilization, decontamination, and autoclav testing procedures.
Okay, I’d like to get a tattoo. What do I need to do?
It’s a great idea to call us in advance to check on artist availability and discuss the design you are interested in. If we can work you in right away as a walk-in, we certainly will. Otherwise we’re happy to schedule an appointment. The design you’re interested in may require that the artist spend some time drawing to prepare for your session, in which case, we prefer to get your design prior to your appointment. When it’s time for your tattoo, come into the shop and bring a valid photo ID, including date of birth. You will be asked to fill out our standard release form, and we ask that you not drink or take any drugs prior to your session. It’s also helpful to avoid having an empty stomach when you come in. A small meal an hour or two prior to your session will help you through the process.
What happens once I’m in the tattoo room?
As you enter the room your artist will have either already set up their work station or will do so in front of you. Most likely at least part of the chair you will be sitting in will be wrapped in plastic and it is important that you keep your shoes and other personal items out of this area particularly if this is close to where you are getting your tattoo. It is also important not to set anything down or touch anything on your artist’s set-up tray. A chair will be provided for you to use for clothing or personal items. Please turn off your cell phone. Once you are seated your artist will clean the area where your tattoo will be with alcohol and then wash and shave the area if necessary. A stencil, which is a direct copy of your design, will most likely be applied. After you confirm that this is where you want the piece your artist will continue to set up. At this point you will be asked to acknowledge that your artist is opening new and sterile needles and using either disposable or sterile tubes (this is what holds the needle in the machine). After set up is complete your tattoo will begin. Please note that your artist may vary from this progression slightly due to personal work preferences, but everything listed above will happen at some point.
We are available during shop hours to answer any questions you might have about the tattoo process. Please feel free to either call or stop by the shop.