MANAGING YOURSELF DURING THE PROCESS, IT IS UP TO YOU!
•Best tip is: don't think about it, think about something else. Be limp, give in, submit to it. It's that simple -
• There are certain stages while getting tattooed that release endorphins and serotonin: The first stage is a little bit of a shock, but its not the worst pain and it does quickly transition into the second less painful stage. In the second stage (if you’re relaxing) your endorphins are now flowing and you are getting accustomed to the sensation. Towards the end of the session, the pain will kind of increase again as the body is no longer able to produce the endorphins or serotonin. But remember, none of this is so bad that you can't talk, and we've all stubbed our toes so bad that we couldn't talk, try reminding yourself that it isn't even as bad as a stubbed-toe.
•Thinking about it, paying attention to it, fighting it, clinching as if its a surgery without anesthesia are the worst things that you can do... doing that makes your skin 20 times more alert, it tightens the skin cells as well, thus preventing even needle pokes, and it makes it hurt way more. Acting like that also interrupts the tattooers concentration during the session.
Have self control, relax yourself and stay limp, lay still, take your mind somewhere else. It'll hurt way less and you will get a powerfully beautiful tattoo as your reward... The tattooer, as the engraver, does their best to create & work in a relaxed setting, helping the artist/engraver really get into it and concentrate on the imagery. You as patron have an important role as well, do your absolute best for the best possible tattoo.... it takes 2 to do a great tattoo.
Now here is the same thing in depth: Whether you have virgin skin or you've been a collector for years, your mindset during each tattoo session is crucial to a good tattoo as well as your whole overall experience. People have different levels of tolerance and different ways to manage it. A persons reaction to pain is highly influenced by their own perception of it. Controlling yourself is paramount.
• Each inch of skin is going to feel different then others, what can be helpful to remember during the process is that the pain of a tattoo isn't even bad enough that you can't talk ..and that it is temporary... Great things come from courage and self control. There is also the pride of making it through the journey with self respect intact... and then having a beautiful tattoo as a result.
• Some of the positions that you are in during the tattoo are uncomfortable for you as well. Having your torso, or your arm, or your leg stretched and in an awkward position for a long time can be more irritating than the tattoo itself, this is normal, jus let it happen without rebutting. The position itself would make a limb hurt, or even numb whether you were being tattoo'd or not. What is needed for the best application is to be floppy like a rag doll, lay still and relax, don't chant, don't move around, don't do breathing exercises, don't do anything accept be limp, lay still, let it happen… don’t fight it, be relaxed.
• Tattooing is not much different than scratching or engraving. It is a highly skilled and inspired, it’s a craft that takes strict concentration on the part of the tattooer.
• The way the Tattooer must stretch the skin and the way he needs to hold his machine properly with a relaxed loose grip (a grip which uses gravity not a tight knuckled fist to hold properly) require you to be in positions that may not make sense to you. Please realize the decades of experience and skill, the tattooer knows exactly what is needed to achieve the best possible tattoo.
• Every one with full sized tattooing has experienced the same thing. Understand that the finished tattoo is more important than discomfort or a position that you are not used to.
•The tattoo is earned, that's a big part of self pride. This is not an out-patient medical procedure or spa treatment. Constantly letting the Tattooer know a position that you would rather be in can be very distracting, and it will prevent good tattooing. Distractions can completely keep the tattooer from achieving best inspiration and application. If you need to take a break it is totally fine. Taking a break is much less distracting than telling me that you know and want a different way to position yourself. I personally take a stretch break about every 45 to 60 minutes (that is for my back, so that I can continue to tattoo for the next 30 years as well as today and tomorrow). every 45 to 60 minutes is a good time for the client to get a good stretch as well.
• It really comes down to self control, it comes down to how you mentally decide to manage the experience. The most important thing is - do your part - relax and control yourself. Your skin needs to be relaxed for the tattoo to go in evenly. Quieting your mind will quiet your body. • As a Western culture, we tend to want to "power through and bite-the-bullet" during difficult experiences. Don't do this - Doing this during a session will tense your body and alert your skin the wrong way for good tattooing. Making yourself more alert makes the process more painful, the skin becomes tense enough to affect the application, it can make for an un-even tattoo. Once you make the decision to submit, or just relinquish your skin and quiet your mind, the tattooing itself can be surprisingly peaceful... getting yourself there is the goal.
There are a few techniques that several of my clients recommend. These can help you control yourself and get in the zone: • Relaxing with natural controlled breathing is very helpful. its easy to find yourself unknowingly holding your breath, causing tension. Take soft, full inhales through your nose and complete long exhales through your mouth. Don't engage in the heavy lamaze style breathing, your tattooer should not hear or notice your breathing technique. • Do not move around, fidget, look around or chicken-head. This goes back to relaxing, letting it happen and just surrendering your skin to the tattoo. Your body should be quite limp & relaxed at all times for a smooth looking tattoo. Limp like a rag doll makes the best looking tattoos. • Please refrain from moaning, grunting or constantly describing what your feeling. Music can help you. Clark has his favorite music playing as it inspires his work. If you want to listen to your own music, feel free to use your headphones it does not offend him in the slightest. • The last thing you want to do is start the tone by being rushed and flustered to get to the shop on time. Don’t be rushed, come with a good head space. • The room is kept cold - so bring a large towel or small blanket (clean), something you don't mind getting some ink on. Clark doesn't wrap the tattoo when the session is over (best for the skin to breath) so also wear clean clothes that you don't mind getting a little ink on as well. Loose fitting is best. • If Clark doesn't speak much during the session, that doesn't mean he is upset with you or in a bad mood. He gets in his artistic zone and is concentrating. Questions are fine but it can greatly slow down the process as he really listens and thinks about his responses which requires him to pause tattooing (also costing you more per hourly sessions). • If you need a break, that too is totally fine but again - a lot of breaks will slow down and ultimately break-up the whole process. Clark takes breaks - every 45 to 60 minutes - to smoke and stretch his back, use these breaks for yourself as well. • Your skin will be going through some mild trauma and then healing itself, so "be healthy" and kind to yourself. Get a good nights sleep before hand.. and be sure to relax the rest of the day after a session. Come in well hydrated and having eaten a light meal before. Eating a bit of candy is good too, it helps boost blood sugar levels which are needed to make endorphins. • Alcohol is not considered a viable relaxation technique as it not only thins the blood and that pushes ink back out, and alcohol intensifies your emotional and mental response. Many people stay away from caffeine the day of the visit too, & some clients take an anti inflammatory or mild pain killer; Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is usually a recommended mix as it does not thin the blood. • Numbing creams need to be discussed first with Clark. they can change the skin texture and can greatly affect the look of the final tattoo... as well as the chemical used possibly causing a much harder heal than you would have experienced without.. • As collectors, we all have a destination of beautiful and powerful art on our body. But it is a powerful journey, that even though mildly painful, can be an epic one. Don’t deny yourself, enjoy the ride! • And remember! - You'll be feeling the same thing that all the other people with the same sized tattoos have felt - if it were really bad nobody would do it, and if it were easy every jerk would have em too. It is as it should be, it is balanced in yin & yan, perfect on the surface as in its depth.