If you're in the market for a new tattoo, a couple of things take place before you swan into a parlor. First, you find an amazing artist, then you choose a design, and finally you pick where it'll go on your body. Say you want back ink — how long would a back tattoo take? That's the next logical question when deciding, especially when you consider the pain. While some pain is involved when getting ink anywhere on your body, no one really wants to spend hours upon uncomfortable hours underneath the needle.
Camille Francoeur Caron, a tattoo artist of two years from XS Tattoos in Montreal, explains the length of time you'll be in a chair depends on a number of factors — and what they are may surprise you.
"For a complete back piece, the time could range between 20 to 30 hours depending on the design, but this is not a thing you do often," Caron shares in an email interview with Bustle.
If you're not in the market for having your whole back inked, something smaller takes much less time.
"For any other design, it would depend on the size and the details of the tattoo. To give an idea, a palm-sized tattoo could take from one to three hours depending on the design. Something like a simple triangle, a word, or a very small design (size of an eyeball) could take between 10 minutes to an hour," Caron explains.
In the end, the size of the tattoo doesn't really factor into the time as much as the actual detailing does. The more intricate your artwork, the longer you'll be sitting in the chair.
"In the end, you have to keep in mind that the final time depends on a lot of things other than the size. It changes depending on the artist you chose, the details in the design, the design it self, if you put color or not, and if you only do lines or you add shading," Caron points out.
She also mentions that things like the placement of the tattoo matters, as some parts of the back are easier to tat than others. Your pain tolerance also adds to the equation, since someone who has a high tolerance can trudge on through the session without stopping.
In the end there are a lot of factors that you need to consider when trying to gauge the time, but the easiest thing you can do is ask your artist. They'll have the best idea on how long you can expect to stay in the parlor. If you really love your design, those couple of hours of pain will be well worth it.