General & Medical


Types of Tattoos

Are Tattoos art?

Yes tattoos are art. However, some tattoos are good art, poorly done... and some tattoos are bad art, done well. Find a tattooist who is competent with both a pencil and a tattoo machine.
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Do tattoos hurt?

You bet it hurts. Not as much as you think and definitely not as much as some would like you to believe. Yes, some areas are more tender than others, but the discomfort is manageable if you're getting what you really want, where you really want it.
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Where can I have a tattoo put?

Where to place a tattoo is, and always should be, your own decision. Don't be influenced by "it'll hurt less there" or "it'll be cooler here", get the tattoo where YOU want it! General advice on placement is that you should consider what kind of clothes you wear, work and social, whether you would like it to show all the time or only when you want to show it off, and in some cases, the appropriateness of the design itself (i.e. the naked warrior girl might be better placed on the calf than the forearm for those who have to attend PTA meetings or be Soccer Mom/Dads! Most professional tattoo shops will not tattoo faces, and do not expect to be able to get your first tattoo on your knuckles at a reputable shop! When the tattoo artist tells you that something may not be a good idea, it does not mean that they are incapable of performing the tattoo -it really may not be a good idea. There are certain areas of the body where the skin does not cooperate well with tattoos over time, notably the fingers, toes and feet. Hands are constantly exposed to the sun, scuffing and rubbing on things, likewise the feet and toes rub on shoes. This means the skin is tougher in these areas and constantly regenerating so it is likely the tattoo will fade fairly quickly and heal unevenly. It will need to be touched up on a regular basis. It may not seem like a problem at first, but on your fifth redo, you might begin to wish you hadn't bothered! I include a segment on the subject of those o-so-trendy finger tattoos -if you don't care..please skip to the next segment!

Let's talk Science
Tattoo ink remains a liquid underneath your skin, that's how it is able to move/grow with you (any hard/raised parts of your tattoo are scar tissue) the ideal placement for this pigment is right between the epidermis and dermis, seems simple right? It's really not. The tissue on your face/hands/feet is so thin it takes skill and practice to “float” the pigment in the perfect spot.

Too shallow and pigment will fall out when your skin naturally regenerates, too deep and your tattoo will appear blurred, blobby, or permanently bruised. (Many people don't realize this is also why only certain pigments will be bright on certain skin tones, your tattoo is under your skin, not on top.) "What about all those rad hand/finger tattoos I see on tumblr that look absolutely awesome?" yeah, like white ink tattoos these pieces typically look fine right at first, what you should be looking for is how these turn out when they're healed. The tattoo below was well done, if I was this artist I'd be proud of my work, but then look at the healed picture. This is an extremely standard outcome in the finger tattoo epidemic you're all obsessed with.

I will spare you the social responsibility lecture...

Women who are considering having children are advised not to get tattooed on the stomach and local area as the skin stretches so much during pregnancy that the tattoo is often badly damaged.

Some types of SCARRING can be tattooed over, but not all, consult with an experienced artist about this. Surgical scars should be at least 6 months old before they are ready to be tattooed over.
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Is tattooing Safe?

Yes... if proper sterilization and infection control standards are practiced by the artist you've chosen. Basically, this means anything that comes in contact with blood / body fluids must either be disposed of (single - use) or sterilized (autoclaved). Pretty much all States now have licensing laws in place and perform inspections regularly. My advice is that if you do not see a license, leave. (This does not apply to untrained people operating out of their houses whose prices reflect the lack of insurance, licensing and professional equipment, all of which is ,in my opinion, a bad idea.)
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What is an autoclave?

An autoclave is a heat / steam / pressure unit that achieves and maintains 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121 degrees Celsius) under 10 pounds (4.5 Kilograms) pressure for 30 minutes or up to 270 degrees Fahrenheit (132 degrees Celsius) under 15 pounds (6.8 Kilograms) pressure for 15 minutes. Most units run a 55 minute cycle from a cold start. It is the only accepted method of sterilization that will kill every living microorganism known to mankind.

It is the only accepted method of sterilization that will kill every living microorganism known to mankind.
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What does the term "single-use" needles mean?

This means that every set of needles used to apply your tattoo are brand new. They are individually packaged, sealed, and autoclaved. An indicator strip on the package changes color when processing has occurred. After use, the needles are disposed of. Pre-packaged and sterilized individual tubes are now also widely used. These are also single use.
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What about inks and other materials?

All ointments, pigments, gloves, ink cups, razors, etc. used to apply your tattoo are discarded after use.

Nothing is reused, this eliminates any possibility of contamination of materials.

After the tattoo procedure has been completed, the work area surfaces are disinfected with an EPA approved veridical which kills any surface bacteria or viruses.
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How do I know if proper standards are being followed?

Is the studio clean and professional looking? Appearances can tell you a lot.
Look for licenses which should be posted in visible areas.

A professional studio takes pride in its safe tattooing procedures and won't mind answering your concerns.
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How should I take care of my tattoo?

Our job is done, now it's your turn... Not looking after your tattoo properly may result in loss of quality, so you should follow these instructions carefully... Do not listen to your friends and people in bars who think they have a better idea. There are many different types of advice on tattoo healing, I would like you to at least try this one - I believe that too much washing and applying of goop simply creates material to build a scab and we do not want scabs, rather a nice light peeling layer.
  • Remove bandage in 2 to 4 hours.
  • Wash tattoo gently with warm water and mild soap. No loofahs.
  • Pat dry and allow to dry out overnight.
  • Apply a thin layer of lotion the next morning and then twice a day for about a week or until the skin is no longer dry.
  • A good lotion to use is Lubriderm or Curel. Remember less is more.
  • Don't use fancy creams, hippy potions, or perfumed lotions.
  • You do not need antibiotic creme.
  • Showers are fine. Baths, swimming, and sauna are out until the tattoo is healed
  • No sun or tanning 'til the tattoo is completely healed.
  • Sunburn on a fresh tattoo can cause severe irritation and allergy.
  • Do not pick, scratch, or help the scab to come off.
  • If you have any questions please callt he person who did your tattoo.
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Anyone who is artistic can tattoo.

Don't bet your skin on it.

The ability to draw neat designs does not make a tattooist. Without the proper equipment, mechanical skill and technical knowledge, that pretty paper design can turn into anything from mush to scar tissue in a couple of months.

A good deal of a professional tattooist's time is spent fixing or covering someone else's "artistic talent".
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Any good artist can do any tattoo.

Not necessarily. While most professionals are capable of a variety of styles, they usually have a specialty, a unique style of tattooing they've developed and are very good at. That artist who's known for his killer tribal work may not be the choice for the portrait of mom and dad you've been planning. Match the design you want with the artist who can pull it off.
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My tattoo doesn't look right, I'll just go back and have them fix it.

If you just have a couple of light patches ar missing line areas but the basic tattoo looks like what you wanted, then by all means go back and have the tattooist touch it up. But if it looks nothing like what you had in mind then seek professional help.
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Tattoos are accepted by society now.

Yes, more than say 10 or 20 years ago, but not as mainstream as you may think, despite the massive popularity of tattooing today. Don't bet your great job with benefits on a tattoo on the side of your neck.
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Artist want you to get real big designs so they can charge more.

Nonsense. Most established professionals have more work than they can handle and can make more money doing a lot of small, uncomplicated pieces than a few large complex ones.
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If I don't get a tattoo today, I probably won't get one.

Don't get one. An impulsive whim is a really stupid reason to make such a permanent decision. If you wouldn't get a tattoo tomorrow, don't get one today.
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Photos are the best way to judge an artist's talent.

No. The best way is to see real tattoos on real people. Photos are second best. They do give you a good idea of what the artist is capable of. Drawings or FLASH may reflect a tattooist's taste and artistic ability, but give no clue as to his ability to tattoo those designs on your skin..
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I want your cheapest tattoo.

Go home!

If you're shopping price, it's a safe bet you're getting tattooed for all the wrong reasons... It's cool, my friends have one, I'm expressing my individuality, it'll piss mom off. If you're serious about getting a tattoo, get exactly what you want, even if you have to save up for it.
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But I really want "Rock Rules" on my knuckles. I'll never regret it.

Make your own mind up.

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You don't need an autoclave, this works just as well!

Absolutely not. The only acceptable means of sterilization is with an autoclave. Boiling water, dry heat units, alcohol, bleaching or any other kind of voodoo just won't cut it.
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You're not a real tattoo fan if you don't have lots of tattoos.

Definitely not true. A person with one terrific tattoo displays more respect for the art form than someone with an armful of uninspired badlyinked images.
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Don't get any water on your tattoo.

Partly true. You should not "soak" a new tattoo, but gentle hand-washing is fine - don't encourage the tattoo to ‘heal faster' by rubbing in the shower, this will lead to loss of color.
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Black and Grey

 Black and Grey basically means tattoos done with use of degrees of black to grey shading. There is usually no application of color at all, although depending on the design a small amount of color can be added to enhance areas of the design.

This type of tattoo is particularly suited to darker skin tone, which does not accept color well, and also to those who are regular sun-worshippers or solarium addicts.

Time tends to soften the tones of the piece and give it a realistic depth quality.
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 Color tattoos are full color pieces lined with black and also shaded. There are 2 main types of color design.

1) Old style traditional tattoos, using block color and no tones.

2) Color shading to obtain subtle color merging.

Color tends to fade if subjected to intense or long-term regular sun exposure as the skin cells, which hold the pigment molecules are damaged by u-v rays and removed by the body system.

It can be retouched if necessary and without much sun exposure looks good for many years.

All colors are dermatological tested pigments but those with known allergies should request an allergy test prior to the application of a color tattoo.
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Portrait and Fine-line

 Portraits can be taken directly from photos, which should be of good quality and large enough to clearly see the details of the face or animal in question. There is a minimum recommended size for this kind of work . Also cell phone images do not work very well for this application.

Fine-line is exactly what you would expect from the description and is mostly used for portrait work. It can be used for high detail and definition in larger pieces.
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 Tribal is the name given to solid black graphic designs which have become popular in recent years.
Its origins are, among others, in the Polynesian islands where the tribes have a tradition of tattooing for ritual and ceremonial purposes; the Maori of New Zealand with their facial mokos are probably the most well known example.

Modern tribal designs do not generally have any symbolic meanings and are simple body decorations for those who are unsure of what kind of picture they could live with. Celtic designs, gangland style lettering and Japanese characters all come under this description in modern tattooing. tribal combines well with the other styles mentioned and can be useful as background or connecting separate pieces.
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 Freehand tattooing simply means that the tattoo is drawn directly onto the body area without use of a stencil or pre-prepared drawing.

The advantages of this are that the tattoo can be better fitted to the body, making use of the body shape, to give the image more movement.

Freehand is also used for cover-ups, to allow a more direct fitting of the new image over the old, making use of the existing shape and lines.

Custom tattoos are prepared on paper and may, in certain cases, be applied by stencil to the body area.

All custom pieces are designed as a unique piece similar to an artist's commission. They are usually not duplicated.
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Coverups and Touchups

 Many people have tattoos that seemed like a good idea at the time and whether it was through a bad choice of tattooists, a bottle of J.D. or whatever, the results won't go away. There is a solution apart from a laser or a long sleeved shirt:

Some bad tattoos are restorable to a proper version of the original plan and these are known as reworks, but the majority are usually only savable through cover-ups and you may be limited on the choice of design.

Remember that a cover up cannot always be your dream tattoo as it may not be possible to fit a specific design to the old piece, this depends how dark and distorted the old tattoo is. Usually we can come up with a good compromise though and anyone needing help or information about cover ups should contact Pym and be prepared to send a photo!
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