In this day and age, we all know someone who has a tattoo or a lot of them. I myself fall into the category of having many of them. Over the years, I have sat in the comfy black chair and allowed someone to stab my skin with colorful inked needles for hours on end. What I would like to share today is all the wonderful new things about tattoos, how far they have come in society, and how to tell if the person putting that permanent tattoo on you is right for you.
Let's start at the beginning.
Many believe the start of tattoos happened to men that served overseas or in the military. You see retired vets with the barbed wire around their upper arm. Well, even though that is where most Americans had started seeing tattoos, that is not where they started from. My source, found on Wikipedia, states that the oldest tattoo documented was from 3370 and 3100 BC. I can assume that their tattoos highly differ from our tattoos today, theirs holding more meaning or status in their community. While we often get tattoos that reflect our interests or what we hold close to our inner-self or just things we think are cool at the time.
Tattoos much older then all of us can be found down all around the world. Though the way they did it is much different, and maybe a little more painful and time-consuming, it is pretty interesting that tattoos have been around for so long; they only grew in popularity!
What about the ink?
Over the years, tattoos have gotten bigger and a lot more colorful. Almost any color you can think of is able to be added to a tattoo. It is what sets our tattoos apart from the past tattoos. Color ink has been around for some time, though, just not as good as it is today. Over the years, they have made all sorts of government-approved inks for all kinds of people. From glow in the dark tattoo ink, vegan ink, and all the way to ink that helps take away tattoos. Some of these inks are harder to find in shops; some artists feel that they are not good for the skin even though it was approved to be used.
How long will a tattoo last?
Many things can decide this, but it will always be there unless you get it removed. The question isn’t how long will it last, the question should be how long will it stay nice for? It all depends on how well you care for the tattoo long after you got it done. If you are always out in the sun, it could help cause the tattoo to fade its vibrant colors after a while. Nothing like a little touch up once in awhile for it to be back to normal. It also depends on the ink your tattoo artist uses. If it is watered down or low quality it could fade quickly or take on a murky color; you definitely do not want that.
Small tattoos tend to get mushed up over the years, as we age so does our skin. If your skin starts to sag, the tattoo can take on more of a messed-up look. Gaining a lot or losing a lot of weight can also affect how a tattoo will look. For example, if you get a belly tattoo and get pregnant, it will stretch a lot. Depending on how your skin is will depend on how it will look after. I was always warned to never get my belly tattooed just in case I wanted to have another child. So, for now, I will stick to the places that won't stretch too much.
What to Look for When Getting a Tattoo
If you have never gotten a tattoo and are ready to go get one, there are a few things you will need to know. When you are going for your first tattoo, it is always wise to not rush into anything. This will forever be on you, so it's best to look around and do your own research. Being covered in tattoos, I am always stopped and asked about my ink. Questions are always being tossed my way or people telling their horror stories. Many times I have seen the work of a sketchy artist that has ruined their skin or scarred it badly. It is not easy to fix a tattoo, depending on what was done by the person who put it on them. A lot of time, more money, and a lot more pain is needed to fix the mistake. Sometimes a tattoo can not be covered up due to size, color, or many other factors, so that leaves people having to get the tattoo removed. Getting a tattoo removed has been described as a few times more painful then getting the original tattoo. It also cost a lot more money to remove a tattoo since it takes a few times to get all the ink out. It could leave nasty scaring on the skin that will not fade away. You will want to avoid having to get a tattoo removal at all cost.
So here are a few things to keep in mind! Make sure you know what you want or something close to what you want and where you will want it. Make sure to be ready for the pain; once you start you can’t stop unless you want a half-finished tattoo—yikes. After you get the perfect tattoo in mind, ask friends and family for shops they have gone to. It is best to get suggestions from people you know since they already know how the artist is. If you can not, for some reason, find suggestions, look around your local area. Please do not go to the sketchy little shop that you never see people go into; that is just a disaster waiting to happen, I promise you. When you find a shop, most of the time there will be several tattoo artists in the shop working. Ask to look at their work. Most artists have a book of all the tattoos they have done. Look at the line work that they do, the shading and coloring. Some artists only do certain styles, so do not be discouraged if someone says no. Keep in mind this is their work that will represent them for life, so if an artist doesn’t feel comfortable doing the tattoo it's best not to push it.
When you find the artist to do the tattoo you are excited for, this is where you will need to keep a lookout. When you are taken back to get the tattoo, make sure the artist opens the needles and everything in front of you. Some sketchy artists have been known to reuse needles to save money. In doing this, they cause infections or many other nasty things from dirty needles. Also, make sure they change their gloves regularly to prevent getting anything in the tattoo; it is considered an open wound. Along with the needle opening in front of you, make sure they are pouring the ink into the little and new ink cups they have. Just like dirty needles, dirty ink is a big health hazard to you and everyone else. The last thing to look at is when they put the outline of the tattoo on you. Make sure to look in the mirror at where it is placed; if you are not happy, make sure to nicely tell your artist. They would rather clean it off and re-add it than have you be upset when its all finished.
And, Finally, What to Do and Not Do
There are many things to do and not to do when you go and get a tattoo. So, I will list a few of both so you can keep in mind for your next or first tattoo!
Number one, when picking out a tattoo, do not try to steal another person’s tattoo or take another artist's work without permission. Artists make their living by their artistic abilities, and stealing it is insulting and taking money out of their pocket. A lot of people do not want to walk around with hundreds of others having the same thing. It is OK to like someone’s tattoo and want it; an artist will have no problem changing it to make it something very similar, that way it is not stolen work and not copying someone else.
When going to get a tattoo, an hour or two before make sure you munch down on a good meal! You should also bring with you small non-messy snacks with you just in case. Avoid drinking any alcohol or taking any drugs the day before or the day of getting a tattoo. You will be bleeding during this, and thinning your blood is not ideal when getting a tattoo. If you are on any medications that have weird side effects, please inform the artist. I had a muscle spasm pretty bad in the chair. Thankfully, my artist was aware and able to get me the right treatment quickly. They are there to make sure you have a nice time; they do not want you to pass out or hurt yourself while getting a tattoo. Do not be afraid to speak up!
One of the important things to do is to tip your artist! This is custom work being done, a skill not a lot of people can pull off. A lot of people do not know that an artist has to pay the shop a percentage. To break it down, a bit a good chunk of artists I know have to pay 50/50, so if your tattoo is only a 100$ that means the artist only gets 50$. That money has to go to bills and some supplies that the shop does not offer them.
Do not haggle prices! This is not a flee market, you guys. How would you feel if you worked on something that took a lot of your time only to be told it is worthless? Prices are set most of the time for single pieces. Unless you want to do a sleeve of some sort, you should ask the hourly rate. Just remember good tattoos are not cheap, and cheap tattoos are not good.
Make sure to ask the artist the best way to care for the tattoo after you are done, the best ways to clean it, and what to use; some shops offer some good creams or sprays for tattoo care. Or you can find some online. It's best to pre-order it before you get the tattoo, if that’s the route you are taking. Also, make sure to ask what to avoid doing the next week it is healing.
A lot of people who have tattoos know most of this, I hope this could shed some good insight to people who don’t know much of tattoos. I hope you enjoyed!