I have 14 tattoos. Neither of my upper arms really hurt until they started getting around to the back of the arm area. The one on my lower spine which basically just goes up the spine about 6 inches hurt. But I have a high pain tolerance. I will have physical reactions to pain before my brain really is like "dude you're in a lot of pain". So that tattoo made me nauseous. The two huge ones on my upper middle back were annoying but didn't hurt too bad except for hte parts that fell near to the kidney area... now that hurt. Shoulder blade area smarted a bit. Ankle smarted. Top of the foot hurt. For larger ones it wasn't unusual for me to be sitting for a few hours at a shot though.
Tattoos hurt. You are doing something to your body that is traumatic. But it's not a pain that can't be coped with if you're willing to cope. Unskilled artists will cause more pain. Skilled artists know how to do it well and not overwork areas. Skilled artists who you have a relationship with know where your threshold pain wise is and how to work with it. It's kind of an intimate relationship. I remember thinking around hour 2 of getting parts of my back done while sitting topless and vulnerable in his shop (I lost my shame a long time ago) in pain, wow this is someone who is putting something kind of intimate on my back. He's seeing something that not a lot of people will ever see (not a ton of people see my bare back). He's been there for all these meaningful tattoos. We've talked at length about them. He's seen me almost pass out. He's watched me cry. And he's causing me pain but doing it in the most gentle way possible and completely unapologetic. If anything with the promise that through the pain something great will happen. It was just a really interesting relationship. I know him outside of the shop too. Small town and all. I mean for a one shot tattoo probably wouldn't be that meaningful but I have a decade and many hours with him.