January 14, 2013
Getting a tattoo is a lifelong commitment, there is no way around that. While you might be eager to get your ink, take your time to find the right tattoo studio and artist for you. Laser removal of tattoos is not nearly as advanced as some would lead you to believe, it's not very reliable, and let's not forget that removal is pricey and the process is lengthy (multiple sessions spread out over a year or more). So what you choose today could be with you for decades. Make sure it's an informed decision.
1) First and foremost, do your research. Don't even bother looking for a tattoo artist until you find a reputable parlor. These days, this is simpler than it sounds, thanks to our favorite online research and rating tools. Plus, you're not looking for the best parlor yet -- just eliminating the worst.
2) Ask around. Chances are that your friends and acquaintances have tattoos and you can ask about their experiences. Of course, if their tattoos are awful, don't bother asking! Surprisingly, even strangers are open to talking about their tattoos. After all, they are visible, so their owners want them to be noticed, and they're impersonal enough that few people take offense to questions. And it's a great way to meet people to boot.
Once you have personal recommendations, do some web searches for each of the specific parlor names. Search for phrases like "tattoo-shop-name problems, "tattoo-shop-name complaints," etc.
Your local independent paper is another good source of referrals. Tattoo shops very often advertise to these audiences, and if the ads are recurring, odds are very high that the shop is favored in the community.
3) Do your safety checks. Now that you have a shortlist of potential providers, take a trip to each of the shops. You're looking at safety and cleanliness at this point.
- When working with customers, do the tattooists wear gloves?
- Do the tattoo artists thoroughly wash their hands and forearms prior to beginning a tattoo?
- Are people smoking in the shop?
- Is a license present and visible in the shop?
- Is the studio free of dirt and debris, i.e. is it clean?
- Does the studio use an autoclave to sterilize equipment prior to beginning a fresh tattoo?
- Does the parlor use single-use materials, such as inks, ink cups, needles, etc?
- Is each client shaved and properly disinfected prior to beginning work?
- Are spray bottles and other hand-held equipment wrapped in plastic bags (prevents cross contamination)?
4) Find an artist. If you're satisfied that the shop is clean, it's time to look for a specific artist. This is a matching process. While most artists are very versatile, if you're looking for a skull tattoo, wouldn't it make more sense to get it from someone who specializes in skulls? Often by looking through the art books in the parlor, you can get a feel for the style of each artist.
When you meet the tattoo artist, they should be friendly and helpful. They get a lot of window shoppers, so don't expect them to be bubbly and excited to meet you, but they should still be accommodating. They should never try to talk you into getting larger or more intricate tattoos. Any artist who has been in business knows that the most satisfied clients are informed clients. Experienced tattoo artists will usually offer their opinions and guide the process, they should never push you.
If you feel that you are being pushed into something that you don't like, or if the artist is dismissive of your questions, you might need to move on. Many experienced artists prefer working on intricate, large designs, so you might just fall under their radar. Not to worry: there is someone out there perfect for your tattoo.
5) Don't price it. Keep in mind that this tattoo will be with you for decades, making the cost per wear minimal. Don't try to save a few bucks and risk ending up with a tattoo that is less than optimal. The risk just isn't worth it. I'm sure there are some cases of price gouging out there, but I've never personally experienced them or talked to anyone who has. Just spend the money -- the peace of mind is worth it.
6) Choose your location. Sensitive areas and areas closer to bone tend to be more painful, but you shouldn't let pain determine your tattoo's location. Hip tattoos are very popular, as well as lower-back and shoulder tattoos. Growing in popularity are hand tattoos and foot tattoos, while the old standbys like arm tattoos are still going strong.
7) Choose your design. Similar to pricing your tattoo, don't settle for any old design you find in their books. With the abundance of tattoo designs available in online galleries, there is no reason you can't find the perfect tattoo for your skin. Your best option is to make use of a quality tattoo finder to browse designs. You'll be able to find and download artwork, and see real life pictures of what the tattoos look like on people.
September 25, 2010
Proper aftercare is very important to your tattoo. I've seen some wicked cases of infection and scabbing, and many cases of tattoos prematurely fading and running. It's pretty simple to care for your tattoo, so why would anyone sit in the chair, spend the money, only to be left with something that is less than optimal? I don't get it. That's why you do your homework and browse through tons of tattoo designs before you make a decision.
Anyway, here's what might have been a nice tattoo, but it was somewhat ruined when it wasn't cared for:
January 20, 2009
Now that you have a tattoo, it's critical to care for it properly in the weeks that follow. If you don't, you could wind up with an infection, tattoo scarring, faded or washed out colors -- in short, you could end up with a faded, disgusting piece of crap on your body. Aftercare is simple, and must not be ignored.
But if you ask 10 different artists how to properly care for a tattoo, you're likely to get 10 different opinions. When in doubt, do exactly as your tattoo artist recommends. The parlor might even give you a care sheet and some ointment you can use. If you weren't given definitive instructions, here are the most important points to keep in mind:
- When you first get your tattoo, it will likely be covered with a plastic dressing. Some artists recommend removing this immediately, and some say you should wait at least 24 hours. The majority say to wait at least four to five hours, so that should be your guideline. Absent other directions from your parlor, remove the bandage after four to six hours.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your newly tattooed skin.
- Use a mild antibacterial soap to clean the tattoo. You'll be washing away the grease of the ointment they put on you, lingering inks, and probably some blood. Continue gently washing the area until what you're washing feels like normal skin. Pat the area dry. Do not rub it or dry it traditionally.
- Once the initial bandage is off, you will not bandage it again. You will want to keep it covered and protected from water, sun, and abrasions, but it should be loosely covered with light clothing.
- Three to four times per day, apply a thin film on anti-bacterial / healing ointment to your tattoo. You will want to use enough to moisten the tattooed area, but not so much as to leave streaks or build up. Your goal is to moisturize the area only, so start with a small amount and work it in with your fingers.
- For the first week, do your best to prevent your tattoo from getting wet -- this includes the shower. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but at the least, protect your tattoo from being submersed in water.
While your tattoo is healing:
- Do not expose it to sunlight.
- Do not submerse it in water (a bath) if you can prevent it.
- Don not get it wet if you can prevent it (this includes the shower).
- Do not bandage it.
- Absolutely do not submerse it in chlorinated water.
- Don't let it dry out completely.
- Keep it moisturized with healing cream.
- But don't keep it sloppily moist.
- Don't pick the scab.
- Use only approved moisturizers.
- Prevent scraping, brushing, or abrasions of any kind on the tattooed area.
A common problem is friction against the tattooed area. For example, if you get a tattoo on your hip, it might rub against your waist band. Or a tattoo on your butt might stick to the sheets at night! Try wearing loose-fitting clothing, and avoid direct contact with clothes if possible. At night, sprinkling a little baby powder on the bed can help to prevent sticking for certain tattoos.
Another common problem is itching. Whatever you do, do not pick the scabs or scratch the tattoo. Instead, use alcohol to relieve the itching, but don't allow your tattoo to dry out. You can also gently smack the area to relieve the itch.
I've been recommended or given three separate ointments from three different shops: A&D Ointment, Neosporin, and Bacitracin. Bacitracin is reported to be a very common and effective moisturizer to use.
There are also specialty lotions designed specifically for tattooing, and these include H2Ocean, Tattoo Goo, and Black Cat Tattoo Cleanser. These are really the Holy Grail of moisturizers. If you have a large, expensive tattoo, or a tattoo with deep colors that you want to protect, they are probably worth the investment.
Tattoo Goo Aftercare
Tattoo Goo Aftercare Salve Ointment 33oz Tins
Black Cat Tattoo Aftercare
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