Bonnie Baker

Hello from a tattoo virgin (not for long!)

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Hey, guys. My name is Bonnie and I am from the mississippi gulf coast. I am currently going to school for chemistry. A few years ago I determined that I needed to get some art on my back. After years of deliberating, I've decided on a full japanese style back piece. I'm starting it in a week in Nola! My family thinks I'm crazy for choosing such a large tattoo for my first, but it just feels right. (Don't know how long it will feel right once the needle is going across my skin, haha). Anyways, I came across this site looking for advice and saw that everyone posting seemed really lovely and friendly. I'm looking forward to talking to folks. I'm pretty nervous so advice and words of encouragement are always appreciated!

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Welcome! I am seven sessions into my back piece, and I will say that your family is right in thinking you're crazy, and you're going to feel that way at some point, maybe during many points, during your back piece. But then you'll catch a glimpse of it in a mirror and it will be worth all the pain, the annoyance and misery of healing, the considerable expense of it because there are no tattoos more striking than full back pieces. So yes, you're crazy, but you're among good company here. Who are you getting to do it and what design are you choosing?

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Haha, that does make me feel better.. Sort of! I just love the idea of a complete continuous piece of art encompassing that much space. Luckily my mom supports me, she says go big or go home. I will be getting a dragon. No bright colors, red, pastel pink, olive gree, and a lot of grey. The face of the dragon will not be entirely traditional, because I want it to be a little prettier/feminine. I'm going to Jeremy at eyecandy in New Orleans. My mom is getting her tattoo the night before by the same guy. Any tips to deal with the pain and healing?

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Hi Bonnie!

My first tattoo project was a full sleeve, so I get your desire to start big. I don't have my back done yet (mainly because I can't settle on a design - so many ideas!), so props to you!

I still get butterflies before every tattoo, but as soon as the needle hits and you know there's no going back, they melt away and you're fine. The knowledge of permanence is soothing, in a way. So don't worry about about getting nervous. Like Graeme said, seeing your work grow and your idea come to fruition, is very reassuring and satisfying.

Getting tattooed sucks though, so there will be shitty times. As for clothing, the ladies thread has an excellent discussion on clothing options for getting tattooed and healing. Hopefully it gives you some good ideas!

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Annnnd, @Graeme for the win!

Yes, about 5 minutes into the first session of my back (my first tattoo larger than 1"x1"), I had a very big mental WTF?!? But the progression is mentally enlightening as well. I don't think I'm the same person. It's more than just getting a huge tattoo - it's finding out who you are. Someone on one of these threads had a nice post about the emotional and growth aspect of getting a backpiece. Part of it is also the respect you will get from others with a lot of work - they understand the commitment you made and completed. I won't be clique-y and say it's a club - just a shift in perspective.

This won't make sense now, but if you go full coverage - ink over every inch of your back - you will.

Welcome to LST.

Here are some places the crazy people hang out:

http://www.lastsparrowtattoo.com/forum/tattoo-designs-books-flash/492-full-back-piece-thread.html

http://www.lastsparrowtattoo.com/forum/crazy-tattoo-stories/870-full-back-piece-experience-thread.html

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Ah, thank you guys! I think just knowing how worth it it will be will make it easier to tough out. I'm going to get back into meditating this week so that maybe I can use it to keep my breathing steady and it may help me turn the pain into a learning experience. I have never meditated through serious pain so I would definitely like to try. Has anyone else used meditation before or during their long sessions? Oh, and people like you are the reason I joined this site. Makes me feel better that there are people just as crazy out there!

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Sounds like you have a great mindset already,eat a good meal prior to getting tattooed and try to get a good nights rest as well the night before,this will help a lot.Ive never meditated during but the breathing exercises will help you through it,just breathe and wait for the endorphins and you'll be fine ✌️

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Welcome and good luck!

The routine is a very important part of the backpiece experience. Just make consistent progress, big or small, it doesn't matter, as long as you chip away, it is all part of getting it done. Frequency is up to you and the tattooer, once a month is reasonable. Every week or two if you can handle it - not just the tattooing but the healing too. It's a big commitment to work your life around - the appointments, the healing, the time off work, the cost. You want it! You can do it!

The back has so many different areas to hit and many will be unpleasant. But the beauty is you can move to a different section when you've strained to long on some of the hard spots. If this is your first tattoo, you won't know any differently, you'll probably sit better than the rest of us ;) The mortality rate is very low.

Yes, eat a good wholesome meal before each session. I always take a break halfway and refuel with another meal which keeps me going and I've found drinking hot water or tea helps to. I always make a point of a light workout (kung fu) and stretching for 45 minutes before all my sessions, it really helps get me focused and ready. But that's my routine. You will find yours.

And whoever here on the forum who suggested to wear a backwards bath robe, thank you. Great advice.

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@bongsau I will definitely be bringing a robe and socks. I always get so cold after sweating or working out. Plus a fuzzy hello kitty robe might comfort me a bit. I'm just going to pretend my grandpa (whom I cannot disappoint) is there so I tough it out.

"The mortality rate is very low" hahahaha.

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haha i know i look ridiculous when i'm getting tattooed. last time was big wool socks, a pompom toque, ink stained underwear in a backwards bathrobe. no fucks given, getting my back tattooed LOL

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I think the fact that you're sitting for multiple sessions for a piece so large, your toughness/badassness outweighs how ridiculous you look. haha. My mom will be there most likely taking a couple pictures of me which I'm sure will turn out beautiful (face swollen from crying, half naked, probably really unforgiving angles, big guy with a beard leaning over me). The kind of pictures a mother always looks forward to taking of their only daughter, lol.

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Update:

Hey, guys. I just wanted to thank you for your advice. Yall's words of encouragement were in my head before I lied down. I don't recall any endorphins kicking in, mostly sucked the whole time, haha. My body shook the entire time and I cried about three times, but he got the outline done in 3 and a half hours and I'm still alive and excited about my next session! Scales and shading in the clouds are next. Hopefully I'll be able to push through it. es8d3p.jpg[/img]

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Great job! If you are shaking, try getting some sugar in you and make sure you are warm enough. I shook like a leaf at the end of my first two sessions, but did some research here and started wearing two hoodies backwards and leggings under sweatpants. And sometimes even gloves, but I get cold easily.

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Good advice from @SeeSea above to which I'll add that lining on the back just sucks. It is physically and mentally crushing. Shading is a lot easier. Which isn't to say that it doesn't also hurt, because it does, but it's a lot less intense than lining. In any case, it looks great and congratulations on living to tell the tale!

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Thanks guys! @SeeSea sugar definitely helped. I drank about half a powerade and the shaking lessened. I don't know about putting extra clothes on, I was hot and sweaty the whole time. My hands did go numb within the first 5 minutes though. @Graeme that makes me feel a lot better! I think I could handle the same pain again, but I don't really want to lol.

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Yeah I got the shakes when I wasn't well fed too. Usually I'm shaking by the end anyhow to some degree no matter how much I've eaten. It's rough.

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Yeah I got the shakes when I wasn't well fed too. Usually I'm shaking by the end anyhow to some degree no matter how much I've eaten. It's rough.

Yup agree, same here.

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