Tattoo Placement: Where to Get Your Initial Ink


Before you perform a thorough search for the word “pain” in this guide, we’ll be the first to let you know that yes—all tattoos hurt! Yet, blood, needles, and ink are what you sacrifice for a stunning piece of art on your body. Next to design selection, most tattoo newbies have trouble with placement.

We always recommend that tattoo virgins ease themselves into the world of body art by selecting a less sensitive skin area. As a rule of thumb, avoid the knees, hands, ribs, elbows, and feet during your first session—unless your threshold for pain is impossibly high. If not, consider the following placements before taking a trip to the local tattoo shop.

  1. Wrist

Though the skin on the wrist is relatively thinner than most areas, the limited surface area allows for a quick process. Chances are, you aren’t going to be sitting for more than twenty minutes. Keep in mind that the pain level increases as you inch closer to your hand—don’t hesitate to ask your tattoo artist to scoot a little lower.

Pain rating: 5/10, maybe a slight grimace

  1. Thigh

Thigh pieces are no big deal. After all, the meatier the part, the less likely you are to experience tongue-biting pain. Regardless of your session length, a thigh placement will allow you to lie down comfortably without laboring your breathing.

Bonus points: thigh pieces are easy to show off or conceal as you please!

Pain rating: 3/10, a total piece of cake

  1. Shoulder

Even on your shoulder blade, muscle provides just enough cushioning for the needles. For first-timers, the shoulder is an excellent placement as it allows for large-scale designs with the ability to hide them as necessary. Alternatively, you can show off your ink whenever you like—at the club in an off-the-shoulder top or at the beach.

Pain rating: 5/10, a little wince now and then

  1. Forearm

The forearm is soft and fleshy and will typically take well to the stress of a tattoo. For tattoo virgins, forearm aftercare is mostly a breeze. The area won’t swell as severely as others, and you won’t likely have trouble sleeping.

Pain rating: 3/10, poker face

How to Minimize Pain

While you can’t eliminate the pain of getting a tattoo, you can reduce stinging, scratching, and burning sensations. Outright, we advise against advertisements for numbing tattoo creams. Pain is part of the process, and desensitizing lotions may affect the quality of your piece. Instead, consider the following tips before pursuing a session.

  • Get a good night’s sleep before your appointment. Coming in well-rested can make a world of difference.
  • Avoid taking a pain reliever, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, which can thin your blood and prolong the process.
  • Stay hydrated throughout the process—dry skin won’t take well to needles.
  • Wear loose clothing in advance. You’re going to want to allow your tattoo to breathe, so avoid tight-fitting blouses and jeans.
  • Always communicate with your artist. Chances are, they’ve dealt with their fair share of hysterical clients. Don’t be one of them by expressing your pain and taking a break!


A tattoo is forever, but the pain that comes with it isn’t. While some placements won’t hurt nearly as much as others, it pays to prepare beforehand by researching and priming your expectations.

At Lucky Deville Tattoo Co, our award-winning tattoo artists take special care to hear your needs and preferences. Explore our portfolio for something that catches your eye.