Probably the most commonly asked question a tattoo artist hears in their career is “Does it hurt?” To cut to the chase, yes, it hurts. Anytime you break the skin, it is going to hurt. The real question should be “How much does it hurt?”
The sensation you feel during a tattoo can be anywhere in a range of mildly annoying up to extremely painful. It usually depends on the sensitivity of the location and the how close the bones or tendons are to the surface. On an area that is well-padded with muscle and gets a good amount of wear such as the upper arm, it is very easy to sit for a tattoo. Other areas where there is little to no muscle such as hands, feet and knees, it is quite intense. There are a few areas that do not follow these rules. The stomach, while having no bones and a good amount of muscle can be rough due to a large amount of nerve endings in the area. The same can be said of the inside of the upper arm and the back of the calf near the knee. Another area that you would think is especially nasty really isn’t is the inside of the elbow, or ditch as it is known in the tattoo industry, but the surrounding area is more tender. One of the more popular areas currently is the side of the torso which can be a bit intense due to the ribs. It may be more rough that the arm but is so worth it, especially since a majority of people cant have sleeves. This is an alternative location for a nice large tattoo.
What it all boils down to is that a tattoo is bearable, wherever it is. If it was unbearable, nobody would have more than one tattoo.