STABILIZING THE PATIENT
The next trick is to make sure you have a stable body part to start with. The problem here is that once the stencil is on the skin, even the slightest movement on the part of the client can cause the skin to move and warp the way the stencil is laying. (I've done extreme lower back tatts, and seen the skin move drastically when the client turned their head slightly!) For arms, I keep a few solid pillows of various sizes handy. For forearms and wrists, a chunky pillow on the lap can elevate the arm to a better working height, and keeps the arm from moving around. For upper arms, I will place a pillow under the armpit, which stabilizes the arm and slightly elevates the working surface. (Both these methods are REALLY helpful with small children!) For ankles, I keep a stool handy and have the client turn away and then place their foot on the stool so the knee is angled inward and the ankle upward. For calves, have the client stand behind your work chair and then place their leg on your short stool so the calf is up. Even for lower backs, I will have the client stand behind my work chair and hold on so they don't wander off. (It happens more than you think!)
Speaking of backs, you will have clients who, when they present their backs or shoulders, will often bend over to give you a better working surface. And then you'll do a NICE tattoo, and then they sit up straight, and oh look! A nice SCRUNCHED UP tattoo! Have them assume a normal sitting or standing position and this won't be a cause for heartbreak. You'll also have clients who want to "help"; either by rolling their arm or leg or actually trying to assist with the stencil. Smile, be diplomatic. But tell them no.
And now, a word about boobs. (C'mon, we're all grown-ups here!) You're going to get requests for tatts on the, um, lower upper chest. Sometimes pretty far down. The problem here is that we're working with the most non-friendly (stop snickering) area of the body because it's so darned SOFT. Nice for some things, but it makes adhering the stencil miserable because you have no way to really put pressure on it. Let the client know that you'll do your best, but things are going to be tricky. You can usually get an assist from the client by having them fold their arms underneath and keeping things a bit firmer. They can ALSO do a . . . "two-hand assist". Cupping. You get the idea.
By the way, the pillows serve another useful function: they catch a lot of glitter. My pillows are all Ikea specials, and they seem to have a surface that allows the glitter to be shaken off easily. A little ScotchGuard will do the same thing.
Ready to get sticky?