While getting a tattoo, big or small, it can be difficult to find things to distract your mind from the constant sting. Many people suggest reading or watching a movie, but I have found these to be a bit too complicated for my mind to handle after sitting for a few hours.
The solution: Music, Conversation, and Food.
A fully charged IPod or Smart Phone with a special playlist for your session can be the difference between cringing in pain or singing your favorite song in the middle of the tattoo parlor (trust me, your artist won’t mind your singing if it means you are sitting still).
Having someone new to talk to about your tattoo helps, but only for about an hour until the relevant topics run out. During my exceptionally long sessions I told friends and family to come at 1 hour intervals. This gave them the chance to feel involved in my inking and me the opportunity to have fresh, distracting discussions every hour or so. Parents, Grandparents, close friends, neighbors, almost anyone would be interested to see your tattoo process and design (Be sure to ask your artist if they are okay with visitors, they may find them distracting while putting permanent ink in your skin… we wouldn’t want that).
Finally, the fail safe means of distraction and means of avoiding boredom: Food. Candy, crackers, cookies, sandwiches; almost anything will work, as long as it doesn’t take a lot of movement to enjoy it. Things like carrots, celery, cut up apples, and oranges are a perfect healthy alternative, especially if you have a tattoo buddy to help you. My personal saving grace was Vitamin Water. With the aid of a straw I drank away my pain with Strawberry Kiwi goodness (of course I had to take a few extra breaks after doing so). Hydration drinks like Vitamin Water or Gatorade are perfect, but try to stay away from caffeine, which could induce more shaking or wincing during your session.
If you smoke, don’t be afraid to ask for a smoke break if you need it. (Just three minutes of standing and smoking a Prime Time helped me get through the rough patches along my spine in my last session). The key is distraction, but the kind that a simple mind in pain can handle for a couple or more hours.