Are You Inked?

By | February 9, 2014

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Tattoos used to be a symbol of the underclass; sailors, bikers and other unseemly folks were the only ones who sported the permanent ink designs. Having a tattoo used to declare to society that you were a rebel, an outsider, an individual who really could care less what anyone thought of you. Nowadays, tattoos seem to be a form of art, a self-expression of your passions, viewpoints, ideals not on a standard art canvas, but on the living, breathing canvas of skin. There are countless variations on tattooing throughout the world today, and narrowing them down and deciding on exactly what you want in a tattoo is essential before taking the leap to permanently adorning yourself.

First and foremost when considering a tattoo is deciding exactly what you want to ink on yourself. You can walk into any tattoo shop in the county and see hundreds, thousands of premade designs to choose from. There are also a good number of resources on the internet that offer a wide variety of premade designs, which you can acquire for a small fee. If you decide you want something more personalized, you can always take in a design you’ve drawn. The tattoo artists are also more than willing to draw something specialized for you when you go in. They’ll normally ask you for some thoughts on what you’re wanting and some details of the design you have in mind, and they can whip something up for you. Whichever way you decide to go, make sure that the tattoo in question is something that means something to you. Getting a tattoo is not some spur of the moment decision to make. A tattoo is something that will brand you for life, so something that holds a special significance to you is an important decision to make.

Placement of the tattoo is also of vital importance. Society today still tends to attach a negative stigma to visible tattoos, especially in the workplace, so consideration of your career, or future career path is important when considering where to place your tattoos. You wouldn’t want to spend a good deal of time and money getting a nice tattoo on your forearm if you plan on working in a retail environment or a service industry such as foodservice. Many employers require no tattoos, or the ability to cover up your tattoos to be eligible for hire. Many branches of the military have also placed tighter restrictions on visible ink, so your new tattoo very well could jeopardize your future if not carefully considered.

The next, and possibly most important, decision you’ll need to make when considering a tattoo is where to have it done. You can pick up any phonebook, in any town, and come up with a good number of tattoo shops. However, not all shops are created equal. Since tattooing involves piercing the skin with needles, cleanliness and sterilization is of utmost importance. Visit shops that you’re interested in, and ask them to if you can watch someone getting a tattoo. See what they’re sterilization and cleaning procedures are like. Ask to see what their preparation entails; watch how they clean up after a person’s tattoo is finished, and see how they set up for the next person. Make sure they only use new, sterile needles when moving from one person to another. Make sure they use a high-quality disinfecting solution to clean all the surfaces that person came in contact with. Watch and see if the artist uses sterile gloves while applying the tattoo and cleaning up. Ask to see the autoclave, and make sure that they use it on a regular basis to be sure that all reusable items are properly sterilized. Getting a tattoo can be great, but contacting an infectious disease from a poorly cleaned shop is not worth it.

Check with the shop when you visit to see what requirements they have for tattooing. Most states have an age limit, so if you’re younger, checking that is important. Ask them what the procedure will be like when you do come in. Most places will ask that the area be freshly washed, and free of oils, lotions, or any other substances which may interfere with the tattoo. Shaving the area will probably happen when you arrive for the tattoo, as removal of the hair ensures a better tattoo, and a cleaner working surface. If you’re getting it done in an area that will be covered with clothing, they’ll most likely have you wear loose-fitting garments, or none at all, if that’s an option in the area you’re considering. Constrictive clothing will be painful, and the friction disrupts the ink, so make sure you clarify with the artist. They’ll be able to give you a walkthrough of how it works, how much it will cost you, and how long it will take when you make your visit. So make sure to ask all your questions then, and be on time!

Tattoo aftercare is vital to keeping your new masterpiece in the best shape possible. The artist will most likely apply a good quality ointment after the tattoo is finished, and bandage it to keep the new tattoo safe and allow the skin to begin healing. They will give you a set of aftercare instructions, which you will need to follow in order for the tattoo to heal properly. Be sure to ask any questions you have regarding the instructions, as not caring for your new tattoo correctly can result in scarring, fading, and infection. They will be able to clear up any questions or concerns you have, so be sure to ask them so that you can proudly show off your new artwork.

Tattoos are a statement of individuality, a means to express yourself and show to the world things that are of value to you. Getting a tattoo is a decision to be made after much consideration, thought and research, but when done properly will allow you a lifetime of permanent pride and self-expression.

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