I have a number of tattoo's. They all hurt and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Now certain areas hurt more than others. If it's on bone or where you can see veins, Is very painful. The worst tattoo pain I have ever felt is on the underside of my wrist.
The line work with one needle is more painful, then the shading/colouring, where 3 or for needles a used
the best way I can describe it is. Have you ever been stung by a bee? Think of that and multiply it by 10,000. For a small tattoo.
Years ago I saw a documentary on TV and it said at the speed of the gun how many times the needle penetrates your skin. I don't recall the figures but I remember working it out for one of my tattoo's. It came out to just under 2,000,000 needles. That is for a 6hr piece of art on my bicep.
I can sit for about 3 hours and by then I've had enough.
A couple of suggestions. For your first tattoo get it in a more "fleshier" area. Shoulder, forearm, thigh for example. Get something on the smaller side and find out what it feels like. No matter what anyone says you will never be completely prepared for how it feels the first time.
Another suggestion. Don't get a tattoo on your body where you can't cover it up. With clothes. There is a certain perception of people with tattoos. and there will be times it's better left unseen. A job interview for example.
Pick a reputable tattoo shop. Ask people where the got there's. Go on line check out the place. Read customer reviews and comments. And please. And I can't stress this enough. Please make sure the place is certified by the board of health. Usually the place has to have a certificate in the window.
I'm not trying to scare you. But you need to be prepared as much as possible.
And remember tattoo's are like potato chips...you can't stop at just one.
I have three tattoos and they didn't hurt me very badly. Two of them are on my hips (on the bone) and one is on my back on my ribcage. That one hurt a bit more because it's pretty large, but the main irritant was the fact that the artist wipes your skin with some sort of rubbing alcohol to keep the "canvas" if you will clear of extra ink/blood. That starts to chafe after a couple of hours and feels like a strong rug burn. The tatooing itself did not bother me and felt like someone drawing on me with a sharp, ballpoint pen. But every person is different.
Pretty much everyone agrees that the wrist area is the most painful for getting a tattoo. They say it vibrates through your bones. I haven't gotten a tattoo yet, but I think you'll have to wear a mouth guard to avoid ruining your teeth. But if you really want it, don't let the fair of pain stop you. For piercings and tattoos, pain should not be a factor in your decision.