Call Us: (210) 979-9877

Image Alt

Best Tattoo Shop in San Antonio | Element Tattoo Portfolio and Tattoo Pictures

Tattoo Anxiety Tips

Whether you’re coming in for your first or your fiftieth tattoo, being nervous is totally normal. You may be worried about the pain, the potential of it not looking the way you envisioned, or maybe you’re concerned about having to remove an article of clothing in a public setting. Whatever the case, your nerves are nothing to be ashamed of. Tattoos are scary! But we have some tips for feeling more comfortable before you get in the chair.

Firstly, consider the area you’re getting tattooed when putting on clothes for the day. Make sure they’re comfortable and functional —why wear a long sleeve shirt to get your shoulder tattooed? Don’t be afraid to bring a zip-up sweater even if it’s hot outside, especially if you’re getting something large-scale. Your skin is open when you’re being tattooed, and that can cause you to feel pretty cold pretty quick. You don’t want to freeze your ass off for several hours, do you? We generally recommend not bringing a blanket to the shop, especially if it’s big. All that extra cloth restricts both you and the artist when you’re in the chair. Plus, it can get dunked in all sorts of things, leading to cross-contamination. Neither of us want that to happen, so leave the blanket at home. Bring a book, fidget toys, stress balls, or headphones, even noise cancelling headphones if you have sensory issues. If you’re feeling insecure about having to take off your top to tattoo your torso or your pants to tattoo your butt/thighs/etc, keep in mind that we tattoo a lot of people. Your tattoo artist has seen more old man butts and bellies than you can imagine —yours will not phase them. We’re all humans, and humans tend to look a little funny with their clothes off. Nobody is going to judge you, and the artist will forget about it two minutes after you walk out the door. We’re here to tattoo you, not roast you.

There are several things to and not to do before you get to the shop. Most importantly, make sure you eat. If you’re getting a large-scale tattoo, bring snacks with you. Your blood sugar plummets when you’re being tattooed, and we would prefer you not pass out on us. We recommend sugary snacks, electrolytes, and water. Do not drink alcohol before your session — alcohol thins the blood and you will bleed way more. Do not smoke any weed before your session, either. You may think it’ll make it better. It won’t. You can take an ibuprofen before coming in, as some people say it helps with the pain, but take only the recommended dose. More won’t help.

Being worried about the pain is completely normal. Most people, surprisingly enough, don’t enjoy being hurt. Your tattoo will hurt. Some artists have numbing creams that they can apply, but if you can manage the pain, we recommend you sit through it, as the numbing agents can affect the final opacity of the tattoo. I like to tell people worried about the pain that it’ll only last as long as they are actively being tattooed. The healing process mostly feels like a mild sunburn. Besides, if the pain was so unbelievably unbearable, guess what! You never have to do it again. We’d love to continue tattooing you, but if you genuinely can’t tolerate it, it’s not like you’re legally or contractually obligated to be tattooed. It isn’t for everybody, but it’d be cooler if it was. Just keep this in mind: pain is temporary; a rad tattoo is forever.

Once you get to the shop for your appointment, we have a couple things to do. First, the receptionist will take your ID. We accept state IDs and drivers licenses. The receptionist will make a copy of your ID and hand you some paperwork to fill out. While you fill it out, they’ll let your artist know you’re in the lobby. Sometimes the artist will be able to get to you right away. Other times, they may be busy with their previous appointment or with a walk-in. In those cases, you may have to wait a bit before you get tattooed — it’s a business that is pretty unpredictable, and while we make every effort to be timely, sometimes shit happens and we just have to deal with it. When your artist heads up to the lobby, they will usually have a short consultation with you and show you the design they’ve drawn up for you. This is the time to speak up if there’s been a misunderstanding about your tattoo. Make sure to double check any spelling if there’s script, especially with names and roman numerals. Your artist may have taken some artistic liberties with your design that hadn’t been discussed prior to booking your appointment. This is usually to ensure the longevity and readability of the tattoo — a lot of things that work on paper do not work on skin. Humans stretch and wrinkle as they age, and we try to make sure your tattoo will look good the entire time you’re alive, not just a year or two. If something is really bothering you about the design, or if you have any questions, make sure to address it with your artist. They will explain their reasoning, just remember that they have many years of experience and have your best interest in mind. Every tattoo they do is a reflection of their skill, so they’re not looking to give you a flaming dog turd for fun. Make sure to mention any conditions you may have (epilepsy, etc.) so that we can accommodate you the best we can. You know your body best, so if you start feeling unwell, let your artist know. Your safety is priority.

Our goal is to give you a great tattoo while having a great time. Every relationship goes both ways, and the best way to help your artist is to help yourself be a good client by ensuring you’re comfortable, occupied, fed, and excited about your tattoo. This ensures you the best possible experience. We hope to see you sometime, whether it be for your first tattoo or the next addition!