Is it painful to get a tattoo? Not nearly so painful as choosing a tattoo font!

by DaniGirl on August 30, 2014 · 2 comments

in It IS all about me

As I mentioned yesterday, I finally got my tattoo yesterday. I am so happy with how it turned out and with the whole experience. I am also hugely relieved. I wasn’t worried about the pain. Seriously? I birthed not one, not two but THREE 10 lbs babies, one without medication and two after more than 20 hours of labour. The thing that I was most anxious about was the thing that most vexes me about photography and occasionally blogging – that it wouldn’t turn out in reality to be anything like what I had cooked up in my head, and (unlike photography or blogging) that I would be stuck with it forever. For a girl who fears committing photos to frames, this was commitment on an epic scale.

As I mentioned, when I first started thinking about getting a tattoo, it was because I had fallen in love with the idea of a shooting star design, which morphed over time into three shooting stars. When I decided earlier this summer that I was finally going to bite the bullet and do this thing for my 45th birthday, I spent hours looking at various star and shooting star tattoo designs online, but nothing was speaking to me.

When I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, I commissioned Beloved to help me create something – you’d be amazed how often it comes in handy having a classically trained artist in the house! We had just started working out a design when a friend mentioned her tattoo of the word “balance” and that resonated with me. Not the word balance itself, but the idea of a word tattoo. I am, after all, a wordy sort of girl. But which word? There are ever so many of them from which to choose! And when the right word suddenly presented itself to me, in the grocery store of all places, I felt that inner zing when the cosmic tumblers click into place. Shine. Of course! Once I had the word, there was no going back.

You know what was 100x more painful than the tattoo itself? Choosing a font. Oh. My. God. I kid you not, I looked at the word “shine” in more than 600 fonts, until the word itself lost all meaning and just became a shapeless blob. Handwriting fonts, gothic fonts, serif fonts, san-serif fonts, curly fonts, elegant fonts, typewriter fonts. Once I start dithering over fonts for a project, it becomes a black hole that sucks me in for hours – oh how I love to play with fonts. Imagine the pressure of deciding on one that would be permanently engraved on me! Here’s just a wee sample of the ones I played with:

And once I finished dithering over fonts (I changed my final design three times this month!) there was the whole star thing to work out. Multi-coloured or monochrome? Solid or outline? Oh, the agonizing. Finally Beloved and I worked out this one, and I knew it was perfect.

Unfortunately, when I presented it to the tattoo artist, she was concerned that the definition in the scribble would be lost unless we went with a much larger tattoo than I had envisioned – the lines would just bleed together into a blob. She played with it a bit and we decided on the outline version you see in the final design. I also dithered for a bit on whether to get it on my ankle or on my wrist, but I have heard that the wrist tattoos can be a bit more painful. Not that I’m overly concerned about it, but the ankle tattoo is also a little easier to conceal, should the need ever arise. I also toyed with putting it near my clavicle. Oh the choices!

If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, I can’t say enough nice things about Amanda (Pickles) at Sacred Ink Collective. She’s patient and empathetic and not afraid to tell you what she recommends based on her experience, but she was also willing to listen to what I wanted and why I wanted it. I had booked an appointment with another tattoo shop that comes highly recommended in Ottawa, but I felt condescended to when I went in to pay my deposit, and they flatly refused to offer any insight into my design ideas. I ended up switching to Sacred Ink on the recommendation of a few friends and I definitely recommend them if you’re thinking about inking!

We resized the stencil twice and messed with the placement once before we were both happy with it, but I’m pretty sure she would have let me go on tinkering for quite a while until it was exactly what I wanted. The tinkering actually took longer than the tattooing. (See? She’s so nice and so patient!)

Tattoo-2

Despite the fact that I know I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, I admit that I was a wee bit worried about the ouchy part. I’m not particularly squeamish, but who likes the idea of 100 pokes per second with a needle? It did hurt a bit in some spots more than others, but Amanda’s rhythm of on and off made it entirely bearable. Once the needle stops, so does the pain. I grated a chunk off the knuckle of my thumb with cheese grater the day before yesterday, and I am getting more residual twinges from that than I am from the tattoo 15 hours after the fact. This morning I feel a vague patch of itchiness, and that’s about it.

Tattoo-3

In all, it took less than 25 minutes of actual poking for her to finish the design. I am so pleased with the result – it’s exactly what I wanted, and I’ll be happy to show it off well into old age.

Tattoo-4

After care of the tattoo is pretty easy. It bled a tiny bit in some of the stars, and while I was warned it would scab and peel, I’m not seeing any signs of that yet. At Sacred Ink, they do offer one touch-up after the tattoo heals if it’s required, but I can’t see anything I’d need fixed. I deliberately waited until the end of summer to get the tattoo, as I’m not supposed to submerge it in a pool or bath for three or four weeks, and too much sun exposure could cause the ink to fade prematurely. It was only yesterday that I realized I won’t be able to shave over it for a week or so, either. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of keeping it clean and moisturizing it a couple of times a day.

What I’m most pleased about is what I was most worried about – Amanda was completely faithful to the design, with the exception of changing the scribble fill to outlines of the stars. I’m not sure I could trace it so faithfully with a pen and tracing paper, let alone malleable skin! I’m quite in love with it and hope the summer stretches long into the autumn so I can continue to show it off.

So now the only question is — what should I get tattooed on my wrist???? 😉


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah McCormack August 30, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I think it is absolutely perfect

2 smothermother September 3, 2014 at 1:49 pm

i’ve been struggling with what to get on my wrist. i would really love to get the word jellybean, but i can’t even imagine going into the font rabbit hole.

i think my next tattoo is going to be a dragon fly. all the the women in my family (sister, 2 nieces and mom) are all getting one. it will be my mom’s first tattoo, which we NEVER thought she would ever get. so because of that, i am going to get a dragon fly. still haven’t decided what and where yet, but have started to narrow it down.

careful, they can be addictive!

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