Beauty Trends

The Secret, Chronic Pain of Tattoo Artists

“When I first started working, nobody had special chairs — either for the clients or the tattooer,” Yarian explains. “All you could do was find a comfortable chair, but now, they have chairs specifically for tattooers and their clients for posture.”

Yarian regularly sees therapeutic pain specialists to learn new, ergonomic ways to adjust her posture and movements during her workday. “That has really been helping me to see pain differently,” she says. 

Wei also goes to physical therapy once a week. However, “I wish there was a massager made specifically for people in the tattoo industry,” she says. “We sit for a long period of time in a specific position so maybe even a corset or something that will fix our posture.”

Posture aside, Andreys says pausing for a couple of seconds to shrug your shoulders or taking a quick deep breath while moving around your neck helps get blood moving and breaks the cycle of pain from immobility. “There’s little things like extending their elbow and then dipping into the ink,” she explains. “These movements don’t seem from the outside view like big things, no client would be like, ‘What are you doing?'” 

Tattoo artists around the world are also becoming certified yoga instructors to provide specialized classes for others to help handle their job-related pain and learn movements to improve their bodies while they aren’t at work. Rizza Boo shares tips and videos from Glasgow, Scotland, via Instagram, while Rachael Gonzalez often holds classes at tattoo conventions and local yoga studios in Alaska, Hawaii, and Costa Rica. 

Justifying Their Rates and Time 

When asked if chronic pain affects their rates, all of the tattoo artists quickly confirm it doesn’t. “None of my discomfort, pain, therapies, any medical interventions motivated me to raise my rates,” Yarian shares. “But it gave me pause regarding which jobs I would accept and clients that I would accept because now, my time was more precious to me.” For years, she tattooed anyone who came along, but now Yarian only accepts appointments with people she wants to spend time with and fully understands what they are looking for. 

Mariah points out her rates are expensive to begin with. Reason being: “I believe art is valuable and my art will be with you forever,” she explains. If anything, Mariah reduces her rates when she has to move an appointment more than once because of the inconvience. “There’s always a scale of disabled people making a bit less money because they have to rest more,” she adds. 

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