Have you ever had someone tell you that a certain movie or book was great, only when you saw it or read it you didn't think it was that good? Have you ever had someone say that a food was either really good or really bad and when you ate it your reaction was the opposite? For some things in this world, the only way to know for yourself how good or bad something is, is if you experience them for yourself. And that's how it is with tattoos and pain.
When someone asks "Is it going to hurt if I get a tattoo?" you sort of have to wonder what they are thinking. Tattoos break the skin and breaking the skin means pain. Getting an injection at the doctor, scraping your knee, or even a paper cut is usually found to be painful to some degree by just about anyone. And it's the same for getting tattooed. Remember Dr. Smith from the television version of "Lost in Space." He would always intone, "Oh the pain... the pain!" at the littlest things. For some people they handle tattooing like Dr. Smith and for others, it just isn't that big a deal.
"Yeah," your friend will say, "but [i]how bad[/i] is it going to hurt?" Again, how can you really gauge that? Don't some people find eating hot peppers to be just torturous while others can pop whole habaneros into their mouths and chew with delight? (Editor's note: Just for the record, I can sit and get tattooed for hours but am a complete spice wussy who has no tolerance for hot food) How bad something is varies from person to person. And there are so many factors to consider. Location of tattoo (on muscle, on a joint), how big the tattoo itself is, how densely it is shaded or colored, the actual technique of the tattoo artist, and the list goes on.
You can't compare tattooing to getting an injection accurately as that is just one needle prick and they tend to be rather deep. Tattooing is hundreds of shallow punctures per minute. A single needle stick on a finger doesn't compare, because those occur on one of the most touch spots on the body, but fingers also tend to be calloused which offers protection.
What it comes down to is, if you really want to get tattooed, you're going to decided to sit down and find out what it feels like. And if you are just so scared of the pain, then you aren't.