Frequently Asked Questions
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- 1. Should I get a tattoo?
- 2. What exactly is a tattoo and how does it work?
- 3. Finding A Tattoo Artist
- 4. Is it safe to get a tattoo?
- 5. Will it be painful to get tattooed?
- 6. What about blood?
- 7. How much will a tattoo cost?
- 8. Should I start small?
- 9. When should I get a tattoo?
- 10. Can I still get a suntan?
- 11. I am sick, should I still get tattooed?
- 12. How should I take care of my new tattoo?
- 13. How soon can I remove the bandage on my new tattoo?
- 14. Can I have my tattoo removed?
- 15. Why do tattoos fade?
Only you can answer this question, but if you are even a little bit unsure, DONíT. Tattoos require a big personal commitment as they are permanent, and can come back to haunt you if it wasnít the right thing for you to do. NEVER get a tattoo just because your friends have one, you want to please a loved one, youíve had too much to drink (if fact a good tattooist will not ink you if you're drunk), or you think itís cool - there should be more involved in such an important decision. If you're even a little bit unsure, rather wait a few days, talk to a parent, mentor or tutor, or get a temporary tattoo instead to see how you would look and feel about it. If you are a minor (usually under the age of 18) special rules in your country or State may prevent you from getting tattooed, or may require a parentís permission or accompaniment. In any case, it may be better to wait until you are old enough to get a tattoo by yourself.
For a detailed description about and the history of tattooing, go here. But, basically, a tattoo artist uses a special machine and ink to permanently imbed a design into your skin. The tattoo machine uses needles to insert the ink into the top part of your skin.
It is almost an art in itself finding a tattoo artist who can not only customize a tattoo from scratch but someone who you will connect with and hopefully enjoy the whole process with. What is right for one person may not be right for another. Many people prefer to sit (or lie) in silence while the tattoo artist works on them while others want to be engaged by the artist and fully get into the experience. If you are not lucky enough to already know a tattoo artist well then you can expect to spend a fair amount of time finding a tattoo artist that is RIGHT for you. Going online and doing a search will turn up a huge amount of tattoo artists and studios but finding the right artist is a completely different matter.
Some people who are heavily tattooed won't let anyone but their chosen artist work on them yet others seem to be on some kind of quest to be tattooed by as many tattoo artists as they can squeeze into their lifetimes. These kinds of people can sometimes be found hanging around tattoo conventions where well-known tattoo artists are in attendance. They will book well in advance if they know a famous tattoo artist is going to be there and can be seen hovering about showing their tattoos to anyone who is interested in hearing the all too familiar...
...And this piece was done by (insert famous tattoo artists name here) at the New York Tattoo Convention two years ago while this one was done by (insert famous tattoo artists name here) last year in London...
If you are the kind of person that doesn't get to go to many tattoo conventions or simply prefer to have a more low key tattoo session without throngs of onlookers then it is all the more important to find a tattoo artist that you like even if you have to travel to have them work on you.
Here are a few tips to help you choose the right tattoo artist:
- If possible try to meet them in person before you consider getting work done. You can usually tell within the first ten minutes if you want that artist to work on you. If they are overly grumpy it could either be the fact that its Monday morning or they may flat out be a grumble guts... not really the kind of person you want to have to try make conversation with for five hours.
- Check out their portfolio of customized work. You can tell so much from a tattoo artistís custom work. If their work resonates with you thatís a start.
- Listen to the experiences of others who have gone before you. If they talk about the tattoo artist like they are some kind of God or Goddess you may be onto something. Then again a lot of artists will think THEY are God so make it your mission to find out who is telling the truth!
- Check out any reviews online. If you see them all over the internet you can bet your hard earned tattoo money they are probably very popular. But this makes your chances of getting a booking in the next 2 years all the slimmer!
- Only listen to advice of people who have actually had work done by the tattoo artist in question. There is nothing like first-hand experience. This is not to say that you will get off on the artist the same way your friend did, particularly if she is female and the artist was a bloke!
- Seek out a tattoo artist who specializes in the style of tattoo you are about to have done. If you are looking for some Polynesian style black work and know a particular artist that specializes in this style you should go to them.
There are many more considerations to keep in mind not least the standard of professionalism and cleanliness they portray in their studio. All tattoo artists have a legal obligation to maintain a high standard of practice by using sterile autoclaves and needles. Always check their credentials and if they are a member of any professional associations. If you are in any doubt at all DO NOT get tattooed there. Not only will you risk the transmission of blood borne pathogens from amateurs also known as scratchers but ultimately you WILL end up with a really bad tattoo.
It takes years to become a professional tattoo artist. Don't think that by going to some back-street parlour you will be saving money having one done by some biker straight out of the joint rather than paying more to a seasoned artist. Chances are (s)he will screw it up, leave you with scars or nightmare of nightmares some blood borne disease such as hepatitis.
It is worthwhile to spend a bit of time choosing the right tattoo artist. Not only will you come away with a tattoo which will hopefully last you a lifetime but you will experience an ancient form of art and one which is practiced by every culture under the sun.
If you pick the right artist and tattoo studio, as described above, it should be safe. But still always insist that your tattooist shows you the installation of a new needle and tube setup from a sealed envelope immediately prior to your tattoo. Also be certain you see your tattoo artist pour a new ink supply into a new disposable container. All equipment should be single service:
- Each needle and tube set must be individually packaged, dated, sealed and autoclaved
- The artist should open a fresh set of needles and tubes in front of you
- Any ointments, pigments, needles, gloves, razors, plastic trays or containers used in applying a new tattoo must be discarded after use
- After a tattoo application, the artist must disinfect the work area with an EPA approved virucidal that will kill any surface bacteria or viruses
It depends on your tolerance to pain and where youíre getting the tattoo, but there usually is some degree of pain involved. If you have a phobia of needles, that could also negatively affect your experience. But for most people getting tattooed is a minor discomfort and they tend to return for more. As a rule, donít use any local anaesthetics, unless expressly recommended by your tattoo artist. If, during the tattoo process, you feel you need a break, just tell the artist, heís sure to oblige.To get a better idea of how painful your chosen tattoo will be have a look at our Tattoo Pain Map.
Generally speaking, everyone bleeds to some degree, some more, some less. Donít drink alcohol for at least 24 hour beforehand, as it tends to ďthin the bloodĒ and exacerbate bleeding. If you are adverse to the sight of blood or feel faint, be sure to tell your tattoo artist, so he can be prepared - you wonít be the first one to faint on him, trust me! Because of the blood issue, your artist should be wearing fresh rubber gloves, to prevent any possible contamination. Afterwards, the tattooist will usually bandage the new tattoo to keep it clean.
The current going rate seems to be between £50 - £75 ($80 - $120) an hour, so your final cost will depend on both the intricacy and difficulty of the design, as well as the skill of the tattoo artist. But, since your tattoo will be permanent and last a lifetime, donít just go by price - it is more important to get quality work and the exact result you want. So go for something simpler or smaller by a good artist now if you cannot afford more extravagant work, or save up for a more expensive piece later. Remember, youíre investing in your own body and ďgood tattoos are not cheap and cheap tattoos are not goodĒ!
Sometimes a small tattoo is all that is required or, for some, a great entry into the world of tattooing. But, remember, a small tattoo is just as permanent as a larger one, so donít just go small for the sake of size. Larger tattoos generally look better and allow for more flexibility and artistry. Some people plan ahead to expand their small tattoo or incorporate it into a larger design later.
The sun can damage a tattoo and it is therefore a good idea, if possible, to get tattooed during winter when the solar intensity is less.
Over-exposure to the sun, or UV rays (even from a tanning bed), can damage or discolour your tattoo, or cause it to fade. Therefore be sure to wear sunblock at all times when tanning.
Probably not. If your immune system is not a hundred percent, that could adversely affect the new tattooís healing process.
A tattoo is basically a skin wound, and should be treated as such. The first 14 days of healing is the most important for your tattoo. Your tattoo artist should be able to give you sound after care advice and a good healing solution can also help to avoid infection and keep your tattoo in the best condition.
Here are the "Aftercare Instructions" from my tattoo artists:-
- On returning home remove dressing and wash the tattoo in warm soapy water
- Pat dry (donít rub) and allow to air dry for about 5 minutes
- Apply a thin layer of Bepanthen cream (nappy rash cream available at most chemists and supermarkets)
- Rewrap in cling film for the duration of the day
- Repeat these steps before going to bed and then sleep in cling film (this not only protects your new tattoo from dust and dirt but also protects your bedsheets from leaking tattoo ink - it never washes out!
- In the morning, wash and dry your tattoo and apply more Bepanthen. If you want you can reapply cling film and repeat for the next week
- If youíre not using cling film to heal your tattoo then continue to moisturize with Bepanthen only for the next 3 to 4 weeks
- Donít pick your tattoo, even if it scabs
- Donít go swimming for 2 - 3 weeks
- Donít use sunbeds for 4 weeks
Not too soon! To minimize the risk of infection, leave the bandage on according to the instructions from the tattoo artist.
Tattoos are mostly permanent, so therefore require a good deal of thought and consideration BEFORE they are applied. There are some methods (like surgery or laser removal) that attempt to remove or hide tattoos, but these are for the most part only partly successful, costly and painful.
One of the biggest problems with permanent pigments is that the best ones are unsafe for use on humans. This leaves the industry with just a few safe alternatives. For the most part, very light fast and permanent colours are used. But this is not always the case. When it comes to yellow, purple, orange or magenta, the fade resistance is still not very high. The most common reason for fading colours is Ultraviolet Light, especially the light from the sun.
This does not mean that once you get a tattoo you have to stay out of the sun forever. It's just that excessive amounts of sun will fade tattoos. It fades about the same rate your skin degrades when exposing it to the sunlight too much.
Another factor is the application of the tattoo itself. Generally the more experienced an artist is the better he can apply the pigment correctly and the less it fades.
People often say their tattoo looks much older than it really is. Which means that they probably exposed themselves too much to the sun, didn't take care of it properly during the healing process or the artist simply did not apply the pigment correctly.
Your skin ages and with it the tattoo. That's a fact and there is no way around it. If you want the tattoo to look good as long as possible take care of your skin and you will take care of your tattoo at the same time.
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