When it comes right down to it, that's what most people really want to know!
Actually, getting a tattoo is not very painful nowadays because modern tattoo equipment is such that the needles go in and out of your skin very quickly. You'll be completely able to carry on a normal conversation while getting your tattoo.
Of course, depending on your tattoo designs and location, the amount of discomfort can vary to some degree. Generally speaking, tattooing over bone – where there's little flesh or fat – hurts a bit more. So getting a tattoo on the fleshy part of your arm probably won't hurt much at all, but directly over your ankle bone or collar bone may be more painful – though still quite bearable.
Tattoo designs can also make a difference with regard to how it feels. Tattooing lines produces a different sensation from ‘filling in', or tattooing blocks of color. Interestingly, though, there's quite a lot of disagreement over which hurts more! It seems to be a subjective reaction – some people find the lines more comfortable than the filling in, while others say just the opposite.
If you go to a professional tattoo shop where the proper tattoo equipment is used, getting a tattoo is very safe. Decades ago there was concern about getting hepatitis C from tattoos, but this is something all professionals are very conscious of nowadays. If new needles are used for each and every customer, there is no chance of contracting a blood-borne disease. Most tattoo artists will be glad to set your mind at rest by showing you the unopened package of needles they will be using before the tattooing begins. After your tattoo is finished, they should dispose of the needles. Ask about safety policies such as these before you select a tattoo shop.
It's true that skin and flesh may sag in some places as you age, but that doesn't necessarily mean your tattoo will look bad.
Just use your common sense. You know roughly where skin tends to sag as you get older, so don't get a large tattoo in those areas. A small one is usually okay, though, and there are several places where you can get a tattoo that won't change substantially over the years – such as your ankle, shoulder or upper arm. These are the most popular tattoo locations at any rate.
Keep in mind that any tattoo may fade over time though, and you may need to get it re-inked. Colors tend to fade faster than black.
You shouldn't get a tattoo if you're drunk or high (and most tattoo shops have a policy in place about this; they'll refuse to tattoo anyone who appears to be drunk or high or as a sign in one shop says, "just plain stupid").
The other reason for not getting a tattoo is if you're not sure. Wait until you do feel sure or just don't get one. This is not a good thing to feel ambiguous about. Use your common sense. If you're sick, wait till you get better.
If you're worried, why not get the tattoo in a place where office clothes will cover it?
For men at any rate, that still leaves a lot of choices. Even if you can't keep it covered though, in this day and age it probably won't matter. Tattoos are a lot more socially acceptable than they ever before and in most workplaces you are judged on the basis of your ability.
There are exceptions, of course; there are tattoos that are so prominent and controversial in terms of their appearance or content that they may cause problems for you, just as there are workplaces which are exceptionally conservative. You need to make sure that all aspects of your appearance fit your objectives, and that includes tattoos. But having a tattoo or two certainly won't preclude you from being gainfully employed – not in this day and age!
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