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Hello. :)


sophistre
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I'm just poking my head in to say hello, and thank you, because this forum is chock full of useful information.

I'm finally going to be getting tattooed for the first time in April, and I'm so excited. I've wanted tattoos pretty much all of my life, but the time was never right, or the artist wasn't available...you know, just the usual life-getting-in-the-way thing. It took a little over thirty years to get to the point where I can choose to go ahead, but the time is finally here, and I'm thrilled! Things appear to have changed a lot in the 10+ years since I last gave serious thought to getting tattooed.

I've been saturating myself in everything I can read about the process ever since I booked the appointment. It's a back-to-back, two day appointment, from 12pm-8pm both days, and I have to travel to NYC from the PNW, so it's a little bit intimidating, not gonna lie. I'm highly motivated, though, and trying to soak up as much advice and information as I can in advance so that I can feel prepared and confident when I show up to my appointment. Mental armor, I guess. :) In the end, I think I'm less nervous about how it's going to feel than whether or not my body will be able to put up with as much time under the needle in one shot as I would like it to. From what I understand, I can probably tip the odds in my favor, but will have only limited control over when my body chemistry starts to slide. Still, I am hopeful! I hear my artist (Peter Walrus Madsen) has very light hands. :o

Anyway, I'm probably just gonna lurk and read a lot, but yeah. I'm really grateful to have found such a good resource for information. I think it'll help me get my headspace prepared!

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For the pain, there are antiseptic solutions which contain a small percentage of lidocaine, a local anesthetic. I honestly do not think you will survive an 8 hour session without it. I am getting ready to do a 4 to 5 hour session next week, and my artist is going to use such a solution. They can't use it during outlining, because it would wipe away the stencil, but they can use it during the filling in and it will greatly reduce the pain. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing that reducing the pain may also reduce the body's shock response, thereby also reducing the amount of swelling. But after an 8 hour session, I recommend putting some ice on it anyway. The less swelling, the lighter the scabbing will be. It will also be sore and tender for a much shorter period of time afterward. I'm not an artist, just someone who is sharing what I've found to be helpful. Good luck!

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Thanks for the reply!

From what I understand, my artist doesn't like to use stencils (or uses them minimally?) and prefers to draw on skin beforehand, and I suspect that's going to take up a lot of the booked time. (Of course, I might just be telling myself that to make myself feel better, haha.)

I've read mixed things about numbing agents like Bactine, like that they can interfere with how well the ink takes. Is that true? I've also read that taking non-aspirin medication (ibuprofen) can help keep swelling down during a long session (that seems really optimistic to me, but maybe?).

Because the guy is from Denmark, I have a lot of incentive to stick with it...but there's only so much I can do! I think if the worst happens and I can't handle as much as he planned for, I'll pay him for his hours anyway and hope I can see him whenever he comes back. Luckily, he's a resident guest artist, so it's not a one-shot, never-again deal.

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I doubt if it's true, as there are some well respected brands that manufacture these antiseptic solutions with lidocaine, one that comes to mind being H2Ocean. There are others as well, but I can't think of them. I would try to talk to your artist about it before the appointment if possible. It's not just the pain that's a problem, it's also the swelling. The skin can swell during the session, and tattooing swelled skin can cause extreme scarring. The scarring will disfigure the tattoo, and can make it impossible to repair later. I would not be as concerned if it were a 4 hour session, but an 8 hour session will have much more chance of swelling and scarring. I just hope your artist is aware of the concerns and will take the proper steps. Even if he doesn't have a solution, the shop where he is guesting might have some.

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@sophistre

First of all, am I jumping to conclusions or is the artist Henning Jorgensen? When I hear a Danish artist in NYC that's who I think of. If so, congrats...!

Back to back sessions like the one you've booked in for are tough, there's no doubt about that. However, they're not uncommon in situations like you described.

I did my whole back in more or less the way you're describing, and I'm in the middle of doing my front the same way.

In Yellow Blaze in Yokohama they do double back to backs, where you do two days, take a few days break, and then do another two days. Now that's real murder. The tattoos still seem to turn out just fine.

As you say, with a guest artist, or if you're the one travelling, it's the way to go to maximise the work you have time to do.

Personally I would mail your artist if you're seriously considering going the route Matthew suggests and see what they have to say.

You're right than if your appointments are 12-8 both days the odds are probably nearly nil that you will be tattooed for 16 hours.

Even if everyone is on time you might be chatting, drawing on and setting up for the first hour or so... Then remember you're both going to need to eat... Maybe smoke breaks etc.

"8 hours" might end up being 3.5 hours tattooing, break, 2.5 hours tattooing, break, 1 hour, done. I think that would still be really ambitious.

Day one you will probably be fine with. Day two will be the hard one, especially if you didn't sleep great with the new tattooing.

Even so... If you're rested, have eaten well and are intent on enjoying the experience you should be able to do it, don't let anyone panic you too much.

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Thank you for the reassurances! It's definitely going to be an experience...and I'm guessing it's going to be a pretty brutal one, especially since I fly home the day after the second appointment. At least I know I get to sleep it off and take it easy when I get back.

I'm not sure that I want to use numbing agents for a variety of reasons, some of which are hard to articulate, but most of which have to do with the fact that I don't want to risk the tattoo being compromised in any way in the healing process. It just seems like if numbing stuff were the best for tattoos, everybody would use it, no...? Maybe that's faulty thinking on my part. In the end, I will probably go with what my artist and shop feel is best, as long as it's nothing crazy involving vaseline and saran wrap. ;) (They would never suggest that!)

I wasn't familiar with Henning Jorgenson (I'm actually not really familiar with big names in tattooing these days :o ) but the googled art is lovely! It's funny...the last serious push I made toward getting a tattoo was (first) with Horiyoshi III (we exchanged faxes, that ought to tell you how long ago it was), and later, after he stopped doing large pieces on foreigners at all, I sent a handwritten letter to his former apprentice, Horitaka, and we exchanged emails a little bit. Sadly, after that, my life got turbulent for personal reasons and tattoos sort of fell off of my priority list. I still feel that old amazement when I look at Japanese styles, though; especially floating world concepts. Maybe someday I'll follow through on that. There are so many intriguing 'new' (? ...new to me, anyway) styles out there now, though.

...which is all a big, long ramble. I guess that's what happens at 1:30am when I can't sleep. But no, my appointment is with this guy. My concept is not his most usual fare (it's an abstract, deconstructed octopus sleeve), but his style seemed just perfect for it.

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@sophistre Hello, welcome, and congratulations on being about to get your first tattoo! I'm going to second what @RoryQ said above about being well rested and well fed before your appointment. In my experience, rest is the biggest factor in how a tattoo session is going to feel, which I learned after getting tattooed on about two or three hours sleep after working a night shift. I will never do that again, it was absolutely horrible. I'd also suggest reading this article by David Bruehl, who does excellent tattoos down in Florida, about tattoo nutrition and treating longer sessions in a similar way as you would athletic activity. Above all, have fun!
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Thank you for the link, @Graeme! That's actually pretty familiar stuff, fortunately, because I also love cycling. :) Although I haven't done it in a few years. But still, every little bit of useful information helps. The hardest part for me to control going into it will be the rest, sadly, since I've got sleeping problems and travel tends to exacerbate them, but I arrive the day before and can spend the evening trying to relax, at least.

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