Charles.M

THE WALL stories...

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Did not see this topic anywhere else, so here it goes.

The wall, to me is that phycological line you can cross where it is best to tap out of the Tattoo session, because you are out of the stuff it takes to continue, (out of gas so to speak) your endorphins are gone, your exhausted, hungry, tired, cranky, wondering what it is all about...that point is what I am talking about. Once crossed... you cannot get back to your happy place... If you keep going, you need to stop every 10 seconds, everyone is annoying everyone else and it becomes unproductive for everybody. No matter how tough you are, everyone hits the wall at some point, if you are getting big work, some even with small work.

As I said in another thread "If tattooing becomes painless someday, you will see a divide where it will be a qualifier if you had a painless tattoo or not because at this time and in conceivable history, pain has been part of the deal. Looking at a 10,000-year-old mummy's tattoo, you can think to yourself, shit that had to hurt... you get tattoo creds based upon the size and placement of the art, whether consciously or not by other tattooed people, it is part and parcel in the experience." 

I had a 9 hour long session on my arm and hit 'the wall'. First, 5 hours fine, stopped for lunch, got back at it, went another 3 hours, then I had to stop and throw up in the bathroom, lunch gone, kept going for 30 minutes stopped (arghhh..), going again then stopped after 5 minutes, then another 5 minutes and called it.  At this point, you could have touched my non-tattooed arm and my mind would have thought it hurt and I can't take it anymore, ...or my toe for that matter. That's it, out of gas....till next time.

I think we all can have this genuine experience, I have seen it countless times in others and it is nothing to be embarrassed about, though it is embarrassing anyway, it just happens. Tough as nails for hours, then all of a sudden not. Dang!. Then there are the obvious fakers who think they get bonus points for making a big deal about everything, that is not the topic.

Please share your 'The Wall' stories, if you have had long sessions, you know what I mean.

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I'm curious about this too. I have had a 6.5 hour session as my longest, and it honestly wasn't bad until about the last 45 minutes when I started to really have to concentrate on keeping myself in my zone. It was at a convention and I was sitting in a folding metal chair, so not even close to ideal circumstances, but my artist lives across the country from me, and this was the time - either sit or not finish the work at all until next year. Breathing was really the thing that helped the most. This time I found that when my husband, my best friend in the whole world, was there sitting with me, I couldn't concentrate on getting to my proper place very well, and I did much better when he wasn't there. 

My most recent work was only about 3.5 hours (I thought it was 3, my husband, who was waiting for me, said it was 4, so I'm splitting the difference - it could NOT have taken that long!) and was on my inner bicep and this was way more uncomfortable, and I'd trade it for the 6.5-hour session any day. I pretty much had to concentrate the whole time. This time I was lying down on a nice, cushy massage table, but I was still at a convention. Overall the environment was much better. However, this time, shorter but more painful overall, I needed my husband there to offer support, and it was easier to zone out and count the dots in the acoustic ceiling tiles, lol. 

I'm interested in how the folks do it when they're being worked on for hours and hours by two artists, say, or, like you, @Charles.M, for a super long session, where your body starts to betray you. As a 50-year-old female who has had her share of babies and made it through various injuries and painful experiences, I feel like I'm pretty stoic, but I don't know how I'd handle some of the tattooing sessions I have seen others endure. 

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The only time I have ever felt like tapping out was the first shading session on my ribs. After having it lined out for the first session and being complimented on how well I was sitting by the artist and the shop manager I think my ego got inflated a tad bit. My next session was scheduled for three hours and it was time for shading! Going in I didn't have a good night sleep and due to traffic I wasn't able to get a solid meal in beforehand but still fetl pretty confident I'd be okay. The majority of the work was along the bottom part of the ribs and lower part of the stomach/oblique. The first 2.5 hours sucked but I was able to get thru it and then I hit that proverbial wall. Once that I happened it didn't feel like I was getting tattooed anymore but rather carved with a knife very slowly. I was so close to saying "fuck it" and cutting the session short but I was able to pull through and finish. Somehow hearing that I had only "ten minutes left" when I had about three times that had helped me out greatly. 

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I had a clipper done last week and it was only 3.5 hours. It boy, she was heavy handed. Out of the 16 tattoos I have, this one killed me. At one point I did a mini 2 minute tap. I told her to hold on. But then I was right back in the saddle. Have no idea why it hurt so bad other then here packing ink in my rose in the ditch. I was just getting annoyed.


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As a strategy to keep the wall at bay for as long as possible, I have found that getting a good nights sleep (the night before), eat a solid grounding meal (slow burn) before the session starts and of course bring some sugary snacks when you need a quick bump somewhere near the end helps (sugar immediately gets me back up for a short stint under the needle)- and of course bring your phycological tough face, grrrr... lol. (basically the opposite of a torture session)  Sleeping the night before a mega-session is difficult sometimes, so I take good old valerian root to knock me out. When you align your stars it amazing what we can endure.

I have seen a lot over the years, but they are not my stories, so I will leave it to them to tell. I think the wall stories are a personal share on the receiving end. Thank you to all who have shared so far and I look forward to more. You are not alone... lol.

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Every session of my thigh piece got worse somehow. I did about 7 hours for lining and that sucked, but things were just downhill from there. The last session we did was some more background and touching up and was only maybe 2 or 3 hours, but I was spent by the end. I'm sure some of it was psychological from all the other painful sessions and some of it was just being in bad physical shape (not eating enough, not enough sleep, etc). I find there isn't really a "trick" to getting past the wall, you just have to make yourself do it and do your best to prolong the wall by being prepared...because with a long enough session, it will come, it's inevitable. About the only advice I can offer (it's true for me, anyway) is to try not to take a lot of breaks because it's always worse coming back into it after the adrenaline wears off and your skin has some more time to process all the irritation it's going through.

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I actually found my artist telling me, "almost done!" or "just another 10 minutes..." to be less helpful than intended, because it never wound up being what I interpreted to be the predicted amount of time. If nothing was said at all I would have much preferred it, and would have been less cranky, lol. I also agree with @Synesthesia, and prefer as few breaks as possible. Fortunately, the artists I have worked with thus far have required remarkably few breaks, if any, and I didn't, so the starting back up again after a break was minimized. Just power through, please....

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I identify with this post today, haha.

I think the most brutal session for me was when we lined my back, since we did the whole thing in one shot. I've discovered that my endorphins tend to fail on me at about four hours in, and everything after that is a test of will. Somehow, we wound up lining the worst spot on back last that day (up between the shoulder blades and just below the nape of the neck) and I was basically biting leather and hiding my face in my bunched up hoodie because I didn't want my tattooer to feel bad. Something about that spot made me burst into tears. Not like 'oh, this hurts, I'm so sad' -- almost like a nervous system response, like shock. Poor guy asked 'you sure you don't want me to stop?' and I'm like 'YES I'M SURE BLOOOOOO' because at that point the only thing in the entire world that sounded worse than what was happening was having to do it again later. :8_laughing:

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