The art of tattoos
First and foremost let me begin by stating that I am not a professional. I know -- real shocking revelation there. I am doing this for a friend who asked a group of friends if anyone would care to write an article or series of articles on fine arts. I, being a consumer of the fine art of body art, volunteered. I am still trying to figure out what I have gotten myself into, but hey a friend asked, therefore here I am.
What I would like to do is give you the perspective of someone who gets these works of art, as well as advice on how to find someone to do a potential tattoo for those interested. If you have any questions, e-mail them to me. If I don't know or have the answer I will get you one. I am not a professional tattoo artist, nor am I a professional tattoo reciever. I am merely someone who has been around some rather good artists, who have taken the time to interface with me. I also would like to dispel certain misconceptions about the art.
I think that it is fair to say that most people in this day and age have seen someone with at least one tattoo, or piercing. (I will give you a moment to collect yourself). I mention piercings because...
They are coming into vogue with the younger generation,
They have been around for centuries, much like tattoos,
They are currently placed along the same lines that tattoos used to be,
I have a couple (other than the normal earring).
I will address the piercing subjects in later articles, if there is enough interest to warrant it.
I currently have six professional or semi-professional tattoos, and two piercings (other than the ears). With this entire introduction here is my Do and Don't list for those thinking about getting a tattoo (or piercing).
Remember this is going to be with you for a great many years to come. Talk to different artists. There should be some "click" between you and your artist. If you don't feel right about the person, you have the right to walk out of the store. Remember you will be wearing this for the rest of your life. I have one tattoo that I wish I would have gotten out of the chair before the guy started. Now, I have something that I am going to have to cover up, which is harder to do. (I will delve more into this at a later time.)
NEVER EVER go to get a tattoo shop on a Friday or Saturday. These are the two busiest days for the artists. If you live in a town with any kind of college it is even worse. This is when they get the onslaught of people walking in wanting to pay cheaply for something. Their conversations are rushed and so is their work. They don't do this on purpose, but it happens. The tattoos I am the happiest with happened in the middle of the day, or were done early in the week.
Talk to different artists. One may see as something impossible to do, but someone else will be able to see your perspective and think that it will be a great piece to do.
Make sure that they are using ink, not a water based ink mixture. The lines don't hold as well with water based and you will be back to get touch ups.
Before you go to get your new piece of art, do not drink anything with alcohol in it... This thins out the blood, and causes what is known as "blow out". Blow out is the process where as soon as they put the ink into the skin, the skin rejects it.
Think about the piece that you are getting and where you are placing it. Yes it may be cool to have that naked lady (or naked guy for the ladies) on your forearm when you are eighteen. But, when you go on a job interview when you're thirty-five it may be a little difficult to get past the stigma. (Yes, there is a stigma that still gets associated with this.)
Look at the artist's previous work. Anyone that has been doing this should have a picture portfolio of what their work looks like when they are done.
Make sure that the studio is clean. With HIV and other issues running rampant these days, things should be very sterile. Make sure that needles are fresh out of the autoclave -- even if they are sealed they are supposed to sterilize them. ( Do you know if the guy that packed that needle washed his hands after using the restroom?)
Expect to feel some measure of pain. These are not those nice Cracker Jack tattoos we got as kids. These are permanent and require a certain amount of pain to be able to get the desired results.
Listen to the artists care instructions!!!!! Tattoo Goo (an ointment similar to Neosporine or 3-in-1 cream, but designed for tats only) is the best product out there. I have used it on two of my tats, and it does the job it was meant for. There are two main fears here, infection, and ruining the artwork itself. Infection is battled by keeping the "goo" on it and keeping it clean. To protect the artwork, pat it dry after a shower. Do not allow water to "hit" it directly. Use anitbacterial soap. Stay out of the sun for at least two months or so... (This depends on the amount of color in the piece.) Stay out of the lake and pool because of possible infection, and because chlorine will bleach out the art.
Oh and Listen to the artist care instructions!!!!! There is nothing more important than that. Remember, this person wants this to look its VERY best; their livelihood depends on your referrals.
One last thing, relax enjoy the process, and remember it will quit hurting by the time you are married and divorced twice!Photos by Michelle Heer