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The five stages of a tattoo session and what happens during yours

Banner - a girl tattooing another on arm

You finally decided - you wanted to get your first tattoo. You contacted the studio and also discussed the design in detail beforehand. You had the chance to ask questions and feel more prepared for the tattooing session. But how does it really work? What happens during a tattoo session? This post describes the 5 Stages of a tattoo session in detail to ease your mind for your first tattoo session.

Discussion and Clarification

Illustration of two women talking, on a couch

The first stage will be the final discussion and clarification of details. This is when you may ask for last-minute small changes to the design and placement. The tattoo artist will print the design and check the final size with you.

At the same time, now is the moment to ask any specific questions you might have before prepping the skin and starting the tattooing process.

This stage is essential, as it makes sure that you are happy with your tattoo's final design and allows for any last-minute recommendation from your tattoo artist. Also, if you are not 100% sure about the placement, you can discuss with the artist the possibility of placing the stencil in two different places so you can choose better.

Prepping the skin and stencil placement

Now you have the final details set, and the tattoo artist printed the stencil for your tattoo. Before the stencil is placed, your skin must be prepped. The tattoo artist might shave the area where the tattoo will be set to ensure the stencil solution will adhere to the skin perfectly. After shaving, your skin will be disinfected with a disinfectant gel or solution. Now, it is time for the stencil. Depending on the product used, the tattoo artist will apply the lotion on your skin, and you might have to wait a couple of minutes for it to dry. The stencil will be placed on the skin.

This step allows you to see the placement of your tattoo. The process will be repeated if you or the tattoo artist are not 100% satisfied with the placement. Note that the tattoo artist might replace the stencil if its quality is improper and it does not offer enough clear guidelines for the tattooing process.

After you are happy with the placement and the tattoo artist is satisfied with the quality of the stencil, you will have to wait a couple of minutes for the stencil to set. Depending on the technique used by the artist, this stage may take up to 30 minutes. During this time, your tattoo artist makes the final preparations for your tattoo session.

*Note: this step will definitely look different if your design is freehanded on your skin.

The tattoo - what to expect to happen during this stage of your tattoo session

Illustration of a tattoo artist tattooing

Now, it is time for your tattoo to be inked. This stage varies in length and process, depending on the size, complexity, level of detail and style of your tattoo.

The process might be straightforward for smaller and simpler tattoos, like writings, outlines, illustrative work or something similar. For more detailed tattoos with finer elements or shadings, the session will be more extended and require the tattoo artist to change and use different needles, tattoo machines and inks. Remember that you can ask for breaks whenever you feel you need one. Also, the tattoo artist may need to take breaks, as the process requires a lot of mental effort and concentration.

During the session, the tattoo artist might ask for your assistance in changing the position of your body to make it easier to reach parts of the stencil and complete your tattoo. You might also want to ask to stretch or change the position, as it may become quite uncomfortable.

Letting your tattoo artist know if you start feeling dizzy or your blood sugars go down is essential. We are used to situations like this and will do our best to keep you safe and back on track.

Wrapping up the session

Ilustration of a girl holding a photo camera

After the tattooing process, the tattoo artist will clean the tattooed skin, apply a spray that helps with the wound closure, and disinfect the area. The spray we use is specifically formulated as a tattoo finish product (add tattoo finish link). The spray will cause a burning sensation on the area that was just tattooed. If you got a larger tattoo, we advise you to take your time and stay on the chair if you feel it gets a bit intense. Communicate this with your tattoo artist, and they will accommodate you until you feel better.

The tattoo artist might take some pictures of your new tattoo.

After this, the tattoo will be covered with a special plastic foil or pad, depending on your skin tolerance and any underlying allergies. Our post on aftercare (link) has all the details about your tattoo aftercare.


Illustration of a cream dose

Now that your tattoo is safely protected and covered, your tattoo artist or the studio will provide you with all the details about the aftercare process. Our studio offers a full aftercare pack and instructions for you. Also, remember that you can contact your artist or the studio for any clarifications about the aftercare process of your new tattoo. Also, do not hesitate to ask for advice in the rare cases of an infection or any other complication related to the tattoo. The artist or the studio will clarify the recommended steps, including contacting a medical provider.


A tattoo session might look different each time you visit a tattoo studio, depending on the design you choose for your tattoo. However, the 5 steps we listed here are part of any tattoo session, and they follow the presented order in this blog post. All tattoo sessions have the same structure, but they vary for each of us, and this diversity is one of the exciting aspects of tattooing. Now you know what happens during a tattoo session!

What do your tattoo sessions usually look like? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section!

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