Ink Tips

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Feb 15th, 2011
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Ink tips? Oooh… where to begin?!

Firstly, a word about hygiene: if you are at all unsure about your chosen tattooist’s approach to hygiene, ask. It’s your life, and having your health wrecked because you were shy about asking the harder questions is simply daft.

Check your chosen tattooist out before you book an appointment. Ask yourself a few questions. Look at other customers: even if their skin art is not to your personal taste, is it well-executed? Does it look good? Then look at the tattoo artist him- or herself. What does their skin art look like? If you think it looks pretty shoddy, ask yourself whether you really want to entrust your skin to the hand of someone who thinks that the poorly-executed design they have looks good.

Remember: this is a PERMANENT addition to your skin. Laser removal is possible, but it is very costly and not always a huge improvement. If you choose to go the route of cover-up to improve upon a tattoo you really can’t live with, your options on design will be limited by what you’ve had done before. So you could easily wind up with something you’ve accepted as second best. Not a good option.

Some tattooists can copy, and that is pretty much all they can do. This is more than sufficient to earn a living, but ask yourself what you really want BEFORE you book your appointment. Tattooists will always have a stock of designs that you can pick from, but these are stock. Chances are that you will then wind up with something that hundreds of other people have.

My tattooist, Stevie from Eternal Tattoos in Dorking (the market town where I was born – strange but true), is an excellent artist who can create truly original art. I booked my appointment for Nutsferatu the month before I had it done. HOT TIP: as in other service professions, a busy tattooist usually equals a good tattooist. Not unnaturally, when it came to the time, Stevie had filed the picture I had given him for safe-keeping, and I had forgotten to bring a copy with me. Nil desperandum. I explained what I wanted, and he designed it in about five minutes.

ARTISTIC VISION: Can your tattooist refine upon your rambling instructions and create something from your mixed messages? Mine can. It is worth finding out if your tattooist is an artist in his or her own right.

Having checked out the hygiene, the design capabilities, and found yourself the design you want, it’s time to book that appointment.

IMPORTANT: No tattooist who is any good will tattoo anyone under the following circumstances:  drunk, stoned, taking aspirin and other blood-thinning medication.

My tattooist has a pretty comprehensive release waiver to fill out and sign. Tell lies on the form, and any adverse effects arising from the procedure (and make no mistake, it is a procedure) are your own fault.

Good tattooists will not tattoo under-18s. (Possibly you might get away with parental consent, but that is between the tattooist and your parents!)

Now, the pain. Yes, there is pain. It is a needle through your skin, so it is not painless. The level of pain depends upon where the tattoo is placed, and even then it is not the same level of pain over the entire area. The OM on my right ankle had a couple of patches that nearly made me jump out of my skin; the dhoom machale on my right forearm, I barely noticed the needle, it was my elbow which ached from holding my forearm in the same downward position for a long time. Different people experience different responses to the pain. While I cannot honestly say that I have experienced a completely pain-free tattoo, I will admit that there is a part of me which actually rather enjoys the element of pain.

Tattooing is quite addictive. Once you embark upon it, there tends to be no going back. Despite all the owies, I have enjoyed every single one of my tattoos, and they mean a great deal to me. This form of self-expression is not for everyone, and you will find that there is prejudice aplenty against those with tattoos, but for every person who expresses dislike of my body art, I know three who love it.  I also recognise that it fulfils a need in me.  And so:

No Fear

No Regrets

One life… Live it!

** with grateful thanks for the snipsy asides masquerading as edits to my business partner, editor, best bud, and co-author – the Pooh-Bah of literature, Jason**

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