When I was a young teen I caught a glimpse of otherwise covered tattoos on the inner arms of a guy who worked at the local deli's counter. He was like me, a redhead, and the pale flesh on the insides of his arms was white as marble. The colored tattoos were a realistic spatial recreation of our solar system - extraordinarily and breathtakingly beautiful, not the old, thick and blurry lined, non colored tattoos that sailors typically sported on a bicep that i was too familiar with. I knew in that moment I wanted a tattoo.
It's been decades but my wanting has never waned. I have had a multitude of reasons for postponing making the commitment, and decided 'the year of forty was the time to bite the bullet. I started striking up conversation with people who had a high quality tattoo I admired, and after thinking I might have to travel a good 5 hours I was ecstatic to find a local artist with a several month wait list. I stopped by the shop which is well renowned in our area. Looked at the boards but found nothing I really was looking for. Talked to the shop owner and he gave me several of the artists tattoo books. Beautiful full sleeves, awesome and accurate portraits, truly amazing cover ups on sizeable tribal chest pieces - and the thing that sealed the deal... seeing work on a birthmark and over keloid scar tissue...two areas that some will not ink. These were so well done I decided that i could happy live with anything this guy wanted to put anywhere on my body - it was going to look great to everyone blessed with the gift of sight.
I had my consultation and brought in my inspiration pieces and notations of what I liked and disliked and without pointing out my favorite he says 'based on what you are saying I like this one' and points it out. So i knew we had a shared vision. Now my biggest concern was placement and i decided the rely on his judgment for that and i am so glad i did.
And to answer your questions: Yes, it hurts and here is why I chose what I did...
Swallows are a traditional old-school tattoo symbolizing enduring love that first appeared on sailors during the World Wars. Because swallows are known to always return home to San Juan Capistrano each year without fail, it was believed that sailors with a swallow tattoo would always return to their homes and families as well. Because swallows never fly too far from home, the sight of a swallow by a sailor was a symbol of hope; it meant they were close to land. If a sailor had the misfortune of dying at sea, legend had it that a swallow would carry his spirit to heaven. And if a sailor had a friend who passed away, he may get a tattoo of a swallow with a dagger through it's breast. But swallows are also an enduring symbol of love and loyalty, as swallows are monogamous creatures. They choose only one partner and will mate with them for life. Many swallow tattoos were modeled after the barn swallow native to Europe. Blue in color, with a long, forked tail, barn swallows are believed to represent the free blue sky and eternal happiness.