There was a time when tattoos were associated with prisoners, sailors, and mobsters. This explains the tattoo taboo culture that we have had up until recently and one that continues around the world. When people think of a tattoo they might also tend to think of unhygienic and unhealthy conditions, hard drugs for the pain and lack of the proper equipment.
When we look at how vehemently tattoos are rejected as a vice in some societies today, it is easy to mistake tatting for vice that has cropped up in the twenty-first century alone. Nevertheless, most forms of body embellishments and body art have been around for thousands of years.
There are still people who associate tattoo culture with having done jail time and rightfully so. We have come a long way in terms of acceptance. Now world leaders like Prince Charles have tattoos and did Obama really joke about wanting to get a tattoo? Yes, he did!
Freedom of Expression and Uniqueness or Self-Mutilation?
Should we see tattoos for what they really are, a form of expression and body art or a form of body mutilation and hazardous taboo? Here is all you need to know about tattoos from history till now before you get one or your next one.
Origin of Tattoos
The word tattoo has its roots in the Tahitian phrase “tattau” which means “to strike”. Among ancient Tahitian tribes, marks made on the body had an impact on one’s lifetime and beyond. There were special marks on each occasion. For instance women would receive pregnancy marks to protect their unborn. There were also marks to distinguish slaves and concubines. Inks were made from nature with vegetable extracts and soot which made most of them dark.
Tatting as it has now been christened has gained popularity over the last decade that society now begins to question some of the misconceptions and taboos surrounding tattoos. Suddenly, bosses are less concerned about tattoos and body piercings when hiring spearheaded by the media and creative industries.
Tattoo Fire Burns On Social Media
We now perceive tattoos as a form of expression and individuality. They are supposed to symbolize uniqueness and often bond with others. Some fields are continuing to see tattoos that were otherwise kept hidden becoming more visible and even creeping the neck and face.
Factors To Consider When Choosing A Tattoo And Shop
When it comes to getting a tattoo, there is no room for trial and error. Most people who have them will tell you that they botched up their first one and most have thought about having it redone or covered. Do you want a floral, portrait, abstract color blots or some words? Here are some considerations you need to make.
Tattoo Themes And Topic
Choosing a tattoo is a personal decision that requires meditation they are basically permanent. You can try temporary custom tattoos if you like to try something on only for the holidays. Otherwise, it’s really important that you think about what you are getting inked permanently on your body and where it goes. Ti starts with a theme, down to a specific image and palette which should lead you to an artist.
Perhaps the easiest way to go for a tattoo is to choose text where the only consideration is the color, font type, and size as well as the placement. You need to be careful though because misspelled words will remain thus for life. Also factor in the stretching that happens on the skin over time and hence distortion of letters. A good tattoo should look good several decades after you get it.
Tattoo Sizes And Placements
The cost of any tattoo will hinge on not only the style and ink used but the area impacted by the artist. An artist may need more than one session to cover a larger area with an image or pattern. Most importantly, your artist needs to be as passionate as you are about getting the tattoo right once and for all.
The difficult and hence cost of any tattoo will also depend on your spot of choices. Men will usually go for backs, shoulders, arms, chest, legs, fingers and wrists while women could have them in most of those places plus hips, ribs, and sternum. Fewer people will traverse the neck area and reach the forehead, scalp and other parts of the head.
Workplace Good Conduct
Another serious consideration is how tatting could interfere with your profession. For instance, the military and all other uniformed forces could have strict rules prohibiting the use of tattoos with certain placements. So if you think there is a chance you might end up in the military, it is best to find out what the rules are regarding the number of allowed tatts and where.
The debate rages on as just to what amount of tattoos are allowable in the formal workplace and there are still many companies with rules against it. People with tattoos on visible parts of the body may have a harder time getting hired for the same slot as people without. We would be lying if we said you don’t have to worry about such things because you do.
Tattoo Ideas –Getting Started
When deciding to get a tattoo, the big question is “of what?’. Even before you think about talking to an artist about the finer details, you will need to have your central idea well fleshed out. It’s easier when you have a template idea and then you find an artist who can match the work. The placement and pricing come after you agree on the inspiration and what you want to be done.
Your tatting experience will inevitably be impacted by the following
- The area to be covered
- Suitable placement
- Colors you want versus your skin tone
- The time you can spend with the artiste
- The style of tattoo that you choose and the artist
Once you have a clue of what you want as a tattoo, you need to decide which style of tattooing you will use. The artist is equally important as they alone can determine how your final tattoo will look. Every artist has a style or two that they are specializing in.
American Traditional Tattoo Styles
When you are proud American history and culture, then you might want to express your love with a fitting tattoo. The American traditional or simply traditional style has many smaller genres with specific themes and styles that stand out for their vivid ink and realism. The category has bee one of the most popular for its striking appearance and symbolism. We might not have the rope to dive into all that the category entails but here are some of the characteristics of the traditional tattoo and some specific tattoos people love.
This tattoo genre is not for the faint-hearted or double-minded. It is typical for artists to take an idea, image, and emotion and explore its furthest limits. So if you are not willing to go all the way. Mostly, people go with emotions and thoughts that matter the most to them, it could be fury, death, love or happiness. The point here is that anything is on the table when you choose to go down this path and the artists are often unapologetic not paying attention to the politeness of every situation. Some of the world’s most controversial tattoos were created right here in the American traditional school of tattoo thought.
That said, there are plenty of smiley tatts featuring flowery images and vivid colors that encourage happiness. It’s a subtle art of making the images instantly recognizable to the viewer and pointing to reality about life around the wearer. When done well, there are sure conversation starters in this category.
American traditional genre of tattoos sticks to realism because of how clear the messages and images are meant to be. So images used for these tattoos will more likely be those of real things. There is no abstract representation of faces, objects, and ideas, artists have to ink it as it is. Just the same, the images are interpreted differently depending on the viewer.
The genre adheres to the realist theme and therefore makes use of sharp lines and clear contrast just as delimits our physical world. Every image almost sticks out of the skin with a striking appearance that can’t be missed.
Special Color Palette
While there is a rainbow of colors to choose from for other tattoo genres, the traditional artist will stick to a select few colors namely; green, red, yellow and black. You might not see a deviation from these colors if you choose an artist who knows their craft. Interestingly, this does not limit what artists can do. You will see some increasingly awesome creations thanks to the similar color scheme which has forced artists to be more creative than their predecessors.
The bigger picture of American tattoo culture is self-symbolism as it represents the culture itself. It’s both for patriotism and a symbol of the resistance for some.
Whichever theme you decide to go for, you cannot go wrong with an American traditional genre. They will put you in a special company in the tattoo world and get you talking to complete strangers or the opposite. Those neat black outlines of roses and skulls are a feast for the eyes and are sure to get noticed every time.
Tattoo By Skin Color
Even with a fixed color palette for a particular genre, an artist can work to improve on the design and style to improve the look of the pieces for your specific skin color. Your skin type and color have much to do with how the colors hold and are a key consideration for any good artist. For instance red ink will look more vibrant on lighter-skinned people. People with darker skin tones might have to settle for darker colors which are the best for sharp contrast and realistic imagery.
Of course, you can get your favorite tattoo just how you want it regardless of your skin color and complexion. It only means that you and your artist need to choose your colors carefully to create a custom color palette within the standard colors.
Tattoo colors are brighter on fairer skin tones naturally and will look more pigmented on Caucasian skin. This is true for brighter colors especially such as white, purples and red. Richer colors will couple well with darker skins but eventually all colors fade over time. But ink that was in use say five years ago is no match for the premium products in use today.
Again you can make use of some of that idle processing power on your PC at home to find out what your tattoo might look lie after say five years of having. Remember for every tattoo and color scheme you choose, someone else has had the tattoo for several years now and it would be nice to peer into the future. Incidentally, the fading depends on the location and size of the image as well as other genetic and lifestyle factors. We all age differently, don’t we?
Choosing A Tattoo Shop
A tattoo is for life. It is therefore prudent to take your time when choosing the shop and artist to get it done right. A big part of the selection process is gathering feedback on a specific shop and examining the portfolio in order to manage expectations with your next tattoo. Finding a shop where you feel at home and an artist you connect with is vital. Here are the steps you can follow to vet the best tattoo shop near you
Gather First-Hand Client Feedback
The true value of a true experience can be measured from the sentiments of clients who have received their tattoos there. It’s as easy as scouting your neighborhood for people with nice tattoos you like and then nicely asking them to show them to you and where they got them. Depending on your genre of choice and level of interest, you might have to go on a vacation overseas to get the best artist and shop. We recommend physical contact with actual recipients of the service but for now, there are a couple of online resources where you can get fine ideas such as Tattoo Hero.
Visit The Shop
The second step you should take is to actually visit the shops that you like to see for yourself the situation on the ground. What is good enough for others might not be what you are looking for. If you see any signs of reckless behavior inspired by drug use, you better not to use that shop at all. Buyers beware! Some of the reputable artists in town work from shady shops behind an army of cartels and militia. For your safety, avoid going for gang-related tattoos that could endanger your life. You can use the net to locate shops that have been recognized for upholding good health standards and exceptional pieces.
Check The Portfolio
Before, during or after the visit to the shop, you may want to have a look at the portfolio of the shop and perhaps for the individual artists too. With some shops, you may be able to revisit their work online. Social media profiles should give you some useful insights.
When you visit, here are some important safety basics that you should be concerned with. You can take stock of the operations and tick against a checklist in your head. It’s not a long list so you can scan through it once and check each item after your visit.
- Tattoo artists and shop need licensing documentation
- New materials for each client and clean equipment
- Artists need medical gloves
- Clean and waterproof tattooing surface
- The shop needs blood-borne pathogens certification
- Clean shop
As for the certificates, you can ask the management to show them to you if they are not publicly displayed. You can obviously check them out later. Tattoo shops also need an autoclave machine which is used for sterilization of equipment.
Provided your shop of choice adheres to the above and other general safety regulations, tattooing should be safe for you. Ordinarily, health risks of getting inked are minimal and complications rarely happen.
The best place to get a tattoo also depends on the geographical area and the regulations in place. Some areas are more regulated than others. In the US for instance, each state can set its own laws controlling the use of tattoos. In most states, you will need to be at least 18 years or visit with your guardian or parent to be eligible for the procedure.
The FDA also regulates the chemicals used in inks and therefore some inks like the ones that glow in the dark are not permitted in the US.
Canada allows 16-year-olds to get a tattoo accompanied by their parents and requires that all artists and shops be licensed for tattooing. In Europe the regulations are similar with each country having its own set of health regulations and safety standards set for tattoo shops.
Does Getting A Tattoo Hurt?
Why lie? It probably will even though your favorite shop should provide you something for the pain. Because of the persistence of the needle pricks, you are likely to feel it especially on areas where there is less flesh and thin skin. Here are some sensations that you might have to endure for the love of your tattoo.
Scratching – certain tattoos require shading and this can lead to repeated abrasion of the skin. At no time should the pain levels be unbearable and constant communication with your artist ensures safety.
Sharp stings detailing your tattoo can require the use of certain techniques that may cause sharper stings. This you might experience the overtones of the stinging even when on mild pain relievers.
Burning sensation –almost everyone will experience a burning sensation when getting a tattoo. This is because of the persistent piercing of the needle repeated over the same nerve area. You just have to sit through it mostly.
Vibration – that tingling sensations occur when you are getting a tattoo over bony parts like ribs and ankles.
Dull – if you are brave enough you will reach this stage and you are home free.
Tattoo Recovery Time
With most shops, the best you are going to get after a decent tattooing session is a verbal rundown of how to take care of your new ink. If they are extra good they will give you a handout to takeaway on how to care for it while healing.
The amount of time you need to feel better depends on the size and nature of your tattoo. Just because the artist is not a real doctor does not mean you should disregard their aftercare instructions. The first few hours to a couple of weeks are critical to making sure you heal nicely and avoid ink fallout.
We decided to end this with how to remove a tattoo in case you get or got one that you don’t really need anymore. There are several ways in which tattoo removal may be attempted even though there is no absolute guarantee for a removal technique that works with every tattoo.
Some claim that there are non-invasive techniques and hacks to remove but a real expert will tell you that the only surefire method you can use to fade a tattoo is surgical intervention. So when you need a tattoo professionally removed, you need to consult with a licensed dermatologist. They will basically walk you through the various removal options you might have. This includes:
Laser Therapy For Tattoo Removal
Laser therapy entails delivery of targeted photos of laser energy to the affected areas which selectively heats up the ink causing it to fade. Several sessions may be needed to achieve reasonable progress.
Your skin surgeon now uses a scalpel to remove every bit of ink from the affected area. Don’t worry though, the whole procedure is ideally pain-free as it is carried out under local anesthesia.
Here your doctor uses a high speed abrasive to chip away tiny bits of the inked skin which then heals without the drawings.
Yes, we know that the last one is no real tattoo removal but adding another tattoo to cover up the older unwanted one. It is often cheaper and more effective for some situations but not always.