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Ok, I'm sure this will sound ridiculous to some.... But I'm wondering if LSTers have any advice on the best ways to keep yourself still during tattoo sessions?

I have three pieces now... One tiny, two medium sized. The small one was easy, but during the medium pieces my muscles would twitch during the tattooing process... it seemed completely involuntary, but I'm sure was quite annoying for my artists. (They may have very kindly pointed this out to me!!)

I want more work done and larger pieces. But I need solutions for sitting better first. I don't want to be that pain in the ass client.

I've done my research. The pain isn't unbearable, I can definitely handle it. I don't drink days beforehand. I stay hydrated. I take a snack with me to avoid my blood sugar crashing out. I try to relax.

Can anyone offer any other advice or strategies? Thanks.

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I almost always have some involuntary twitching while being tattooed on my arms or legs. I always apologise for it, and the most common response in something along the lines of "no worries, I`m holding you down". I don`t think there`s much to be done other than trying your best to relax, but if anyone has any good advice I`m all ears.

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It seems like your doing all you can. It comes down to your body not liking tiny needles being stuck into it for many hours at a time and it reacting accordingly. I wouldn't mind some of the lidocaine cream that came up in one of scotts interviews. Especially for big pieces.

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I had the flinching/involuntary twitch on my ribs and belly. It was usually after a ink dip and that first touch. I felt bad but spasmed often. I almost said I think i wouldnt do it if you touched the gun to me for a half second then start again but I am sure artists have tried everything to stop this from happening

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My legs twitch like a motherfucker. Especially on my shins near the ankles. It's bound to happen, but I think most artists are prepared by holding you. Not bad unless you horse kick them in the face or something. It's unlikely that'd happen, but it would make for a great story

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@Stewart Robson, I was hoping you'd say, "Lie back and think of England."

I always try to take deep, controlled breaths. For me, it helps to inhale deeply before the needle hits, then exhale slowly for the length of the needle attack. I only do that when things get really bad, though. Like for the entirety of my ribs.

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I found myself starting to twitch a bit and realised that I was tensing up my arm in an effort to keep it still. Turns out it is completely counter-productive. After I willed myself to completely relax I was fine (I think). I am the sort of person who will sit in a cinema and watch a 3-hour film and barely move a muscle so I think I'm ok with that sort of thing. I don't know how twitchers and shufflers cope with being tattooed.

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Aside from relaxing (which is always a good thing), you could try being distracted. If the studio has one set up, and it's ok with the person tattooing you, you could watch tv/a movie. Nothing that requires much attention, just something mindless. That way, you're not thinking about keeping still, stressing yourself out.

Otherwise, drugs.

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@Stewart Robson, I was hoping you'd say, "Lie back and think of England."

I always try to take deep, controlled breaths. For me, it helps to inhale deeply before the needle hits, then exhale slowly for the length of the needle attack. I only do that when things get really bad, though. Like for the entirety of my ribs.

I do the same thing, inhale while they dip in the ink and exhale while they tattoo, seems to help me.

If it's really a problem get some EMLA cream or some of that Dr. Numb stuff, some people may call you a pussy but if it's going to make it easier for your artist, who cares what people say.....

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If you do decide you want to use pain relieving ointment (which won't help at all with the sitting still/twitching thing, by the way) please check with your tattooer. Some don't mind, some don't like it. It changes the texture of the skin and sometimes we have to work slightly differently. On some skin types or areas, it can make the skin puffy or spongy, therefore more difficult to make clean lines, smooth shading and solid colour.

As with most things, it's better to ask your tattooer, either directly or by calling the shop.

...or you could ask faceless strangers (who won't be held accountable, should problems arise) on the internet...

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As with most things, it's better to ask your tattooer, either directly or by calling the shop....or you could ask faceless strangers (who won't be held accountable, should problems arise) on the internet...

Stewart - I have heard that ibuprofen can be a useful thing to take just prior to tattooing because it can reduce inflammation, therefore making the skin easier to work on. Is this another myth? I didn't take any, but as someone with fair and rather sensitive skin (I'm a redhead) I wonder if it might help the tattooer?

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Stewart - I have heard that ibuprofen can be a useful thing to take just prior to tattooing because it can reduce inflammation, therefore making the skin easier to work on. Is this another myth? I didn't take any, but as someone with fair and rather sensitive skin (I'm a redhead) I wonder if it might help the tattooer?

Yes but only if he/she has a bad headache. ;)

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Stewart - I have heard that ibuprofen can be a useful thing to take just prior to tattooing because it can reduce inflammation, therefore making the skin easier to work on. Is this another myth? I didn't take any, but as someone with fair and rather sensitive skin (I'm a redhead) I wonder if it might help the tattooer?

You added 2+2 and made 7.

Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory but it won't make a difference to the texture of your skin under normal circumstances. It's good for:

• Reducing swelling on areas prone to swelling during the healing process, particularly near joints. (note, hands and feet often swell more than other areas but consider the number of joints in those areas. Apply 'reefer' jokes to taste)

• For particularly painful areas I use it before getting tattooed. I didn't notice any difference on my arms, thighs or stomach etc. But did notice it helped me avoid the panic, allowing me to relax more during getting the sides of my ribcage tattooed. Still, nothing helps pain management more than relaxation and breathing techniques.

Seriously. Before getting tattooed, eat a light-ish meal (sandwich or something), the night before try to get a good amount of sleep, drink plenty of water, relax, sit still, shut up and get tattooed. It's pretty easy.

Because I'm a pussy I have a glucose drink with me, taking sips every 30-60 minutes or so.

Any stuff you've heard or read about people taking this-or-that concoction of pills, or drinks or whatever. They are usually heavily tattooed people who are totally bored of getting hurt and sitting through the boring bit of getting tattooed. So they'll try anything.

Once you get over 100 hours of tattooing on your body, a little of the exotic shine and excitement kinda wears off the experience. They get tattooed for the end result, not the experience.

If you still have 50-80% of your body free from tattoos, you can be considered fairly tattooed but there's a good chance you'll be stoked to be in the tattoo chair/bench/whatever. It's interesting to look around the shop and check stuff out, to watch a little of the process and to be privy to the whole atmosphere that makes a tattoo shop one of the coolest places in the world, to be part of it and contribute by getting a tattoo.

So sit still, shut up and enjoy it.

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Thanks Stewart. I know some of you guys probably tire of repeating the same info time after time, but it is useful to hear practical and learned advice about certain practices that get discussed on this forum.

You added 2+2 and made 7.

I'll put that down to my dyscalculia.

Seriously. Before getting tattooed, eat a light-ish meal (sandwich or something), the night before try to get a good amount of sleep, drink plenty of water, relax, sit still, shut up and get tattooed. It's pretty easy. Because I'm a pussy I have a glucose drink with me, taking sips every 30-60 minutes or so.

Yeah, I sat in Bar Italia and had a decent sandwich and a bottle of water and just read through my tattoo notes, and it made the world of difference. I also managed to get 10 hours of sleep, which was great.

If you still have 50-80% of your body free from tattoos, you can be considered fairly tattooed but there's a good chance you'll be stoked to be in the tattoo chair/bench/whatever. It's interesting to look around the shop and check stuff out, to watch a little of the process and to be privy to the whole atmosphere that makes a tattoo shop one of the coolest places in the world, to be part of it and contribute by getting a tattoo.So sit still, shut up and enjoy it.

That's for sure - a great deal of the experience is watching the tattooing process, which is very interesting and ritualistic, but I agree the romance of that must wear off for the heavily tattooed. Looking at the wall art was very useful, and on the painful inner-elbow I found myself looking at one image on the wall (I can't remember what it was) and counting the small images on it. By the time I got to 30 it was done. I was facing the counter so found myself looking at some of the people who come in to look through the portfolios who were all taking sneaky glimpses at my tattoo, which was amusing and distracting, so that was also useful.

I reckon I was pretty still, in the main I shut the fuck up, and I certainly did enjoy it.

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Looking at the wall art was very useful, and on the painful inner-elbow I found myself looking at one image on the wall (I can't remember what it was) and counting the small images on it. By the time I got to 30 it was done.

When Jill Bonny was tattooing the dots in the part of my snake that wraps around my left butt cheek, I tried to distract myself by counting the dots. I stopped after 300.

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With longish sessions on my back I found it useful to listen to music from time to time, and once or twice I even cracked open a book. I know some people consider that a bit rude, but I asked Ching first and he really didn't seem to care either way. At the end of the day if it helps you sit stiller for longer then it's got to be a good thing, provided it doesn't interfere with the artist?

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I talk and talk and talk. I find it hard not to talk even when the artist is not a "talker" lol (to the point where I've been told to stfu by the artist haha grumpy bastard). When it gets really uncomfortable the artist gets peace whilst I go into my happy place .....

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