The answer is; it is all relative to the individual. But that doesn’t answer the question does it. The other day I finally got an appointment with Barbara, http://dancingbonesinkinc.com it’s hard to get one these days and had her finish my dragon. He had been naked now for almost a year, no color. I was excited to finish him and tired that day too.
So as I napped on the table he began to take on his new skin.
First she put in the shading; tattoos are like paintings, layers of color, of ink.
As for the pain it is like a sweat bee buzzing over your skin.
Barbara has a smooth touch. She worked the entire dragon over once with the shading and then comes back with the color. By now after the first layer, about an hour, he is a little angry, starting to swell, tender. Now the main color, (red) goes over the all ready sensitive area that has had time to wake up.
When the needles touch the skin the pain now is a little more like, a sting that intensifies while the she works.
In between while she refills the ink on her tip the pain quickly goes away and so go the process.
Pain, rest, pain, rest.
I would describe the pain on a scale of 1 to 10 as a 3 but as I get tired the sensation seems to intensify.
But once the needle is done the pain quickly leaves.
Now she has the base color in and is beginning to add more color, more shading.
My poor dragon is tender and now this pain jumps up another notch, about a 4 or 5.
But again when she stops the pain goes away. I think we were into the process for about 3 hours and now I am even more tired. I am ready to be done, but Barbara isn’t, one last touch here and there to add more highlights. Damn artists always wanting to add that one last detail that will make the work pop.
Finally we are done, my dragon has new cloths, new skin.
This is a large tattoo and now it is mostly numb, swollen and bleeding.
To describe the finished tattoo now, it is like a sun burn.
It is warm to the touch and will stay that way for a couple days as it heals. Barbara applies ointment to the dragon and wraps him up to protect him.
Over the night he will weep ink and blood.
The next day he is still mostly numb, a little sensitive to the touch. He will form armor over the next couple days, a scab.
By the end of day two he will be more sensitive, the nerves in the skin are waking up, healing, but that will diminish too as the days pass.
I will keep his skin moist, so it stays flexible until he completely heals. I will wrap him up at night to protect him while I sleep for a few days, but I will always keep him covered with ointment and then cream until his skin is my skin.
Later he will shed his armor, in flakes of color until he is healed.
Don’t pick at your tattoo she tells me very sternly, leave him alone.
So for those of you who wonder does it hurt, yeah a little, it is a process, it is called earning your tattoo.
I am excited have him, it is a personal thing. He is my lucky dragon, happy and full of crap.