How to Find a Good Tattoo Artist

How to Find a Tattoo Artist

The decision to get your first tattoo is a monumental life choice. Tattoos are designed to be permanent so you must try your best to get it right the first time. Having a tattoo removed is generally more difficult and expensive than having one put on. Choosing both a design and an artist should be well thought out and researched decisions.

tattoo 300x187 How to Find a Good Tattoo Artist

Choosing a Tattoo Artist

Think about the reasons why you want to have a tattoo. Make sure you understand what the tattoo will mean to you personally. Next, think about tattoo designs you like. Have you admired ink on friends? Do you covet the tattoo of a famous celebrity? Has some ink on Pinterest captured your attention?

If your friends have had work done that you admire, ask for referrals. When talking with them, get specific reasons why they liked their artist. Did they feel the communication was good? Why? Did the artist design the tattoo or did your friends pick designs out of the artist’s portfolio? Was the studio clean? Was the artist punctual? Why did they choose the style of tattoo they have? What does their tattoo mean to them? If they were to get another tattoo would they do anything differently?

If the ink you admire is from a website like Pinterest, do your best to source both the style of tattoo and the artist. If the tattoo you desire is based on one a celebrity has, do the same. If you need to, approach strangers with ink you like and ask them questions. Most people are proud of their tattoos and happy to share information. You can also purchase tattoo magazines to research styles and artists.

Once you have found several tattoo artists you are interested in, look at their portfolios. Many portfolios are available online. If the artists you are interested in do not have online portfolios, take time to visit the shop where they work. Keep in mind that portfolios are designed to showcase an artist’s best work. Scrutinize the lines on the tattoos in the portfolio to make sure they are straight and smooth. Colors should be bold and filled in completely.

After you have viewed several portfolios, visit the shop where the artist works. While getting a tattoo, you are exposed to blood borne pathogens and risk infection. Make sure the shop is sparkling clean. Artists should wear latex gloves. Instruments should be sterilized with an autoclave. Waste should be disposed of by medically appropriate methods. Tattoos should be bandaged with proper medical materials not plastic wrap.

In addition, you should feel comfortable with the staff. They should be able to kindly and appropriately answer your questions. Ask the staff if you can observe the studio for half an hour or more. While observing, watch how clients are treated, instruments are handled and how the artist works. Ask the staff at the studio what aftercare is recommended for new tattoos.

Next, meet with the artist or artists you admire. This meeting should last twenty minutes or more. Bring a list of questions you have regarding getting a tattoo. Once your questions are answered, ask the artist if there is anything he or she can add. You may hire this person to put a permanent expression on your body. You must get all of your questions answered and feel comfortable with him or her.

Good communication with the artist is important. You should clearly understand him or her. In turn, you should feel like you are understood. You should leave this meeting feeling like you have an excellent working relationship with the artist.

tattoo kid  220x300 How to Find a Good Tattoo Artist

Here are some examples of questions you may want to ask the artist:
• What style of tattooing is your favorite? Why?
• Which tattoo in your portfolio is your favorite?
• Do you have a license?
• What is your artistic background?
• Where did you do your apprenticeship?
• How long have you been working at this location?
• Do you do custom work?
• If you are using an artist that has not been referred by a friend, ask the artist for references.

If you cannot find someone in your area whose work you admire, consider traveling to find the right artist. A tattoo is a permanent and you want your ink to be perfect. Traveling can be expensive, but the time and money are well spent if you get a tattoo you love. Five years from now you probably won’t remember how much your tattoo cost. If a word is misspelled on your tattoo, you will remember it forever.

Working with a Tattoo Artist to Create Your Design

First, take your time deciding what your first tattoo will mean to you. Consider where you would like the tattoo placed. Next, make a consultation appointment with the artist you plan to use. Do not go to this appointment empty handed. Bring in pictures, sketches and any other materials the tattoo artist can examine. To get inspired, you can visit your local art museum or a tattoo convention. If you live in a rural area, you can order magazines and research tattoo styles online. Even if you are not a good sketcher, create a rough outline of what you want and bring it with you to the appointment. The more you can bring to the artist, the more likely the artist is to give you the tattoo you desire.

After this appointment, the tattoo artist should have enough information to make a sketch of the design. Most of the time, the artist will schedule another appointment with you to review his or her sketch. If modifications are necessary, do not hesitate to ask for them. Be sure to ask the artist how much the design will cost. Keep in mind that it is customary to tip a tattoo artist for individual design work in addition to his or her fee.

Once you have decided on a tattoo artist, a design and a location for your tattoo, take a breather from the process to make sure you are ready. If you must schedule an appointment, choose a date that is at least a month in the future from your last consultation with the artist.

Tattoo Removal

Tattoo Removal: The Ultimate Guide

Regretting a permanent reminder of an old flame? Tired of the tattoo you got on an alcohol-induced whim in college? You are not alone. According to a 2006 survey in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 24 percent of 18- to 50-year-olds have tattoos and 17 percent of those people have considered having it removed. Tattoos have become a mainstay of personal expression in today’s culture and the industry of tattooing is growing. For some, their life view has changed and the expression printed in permanent ink on their calf does not fit with their current beliefs. For others, a change in careers has put the tattoo their forearm on the chopping block. These days, removing a tattoo is almost as popular as getting one.

Regardless of which method you use, removal of a tattoo is often a long, time consuming process. In essence, removal is a matter of endurance. Once you start the process, you should be prepared to continue until the tattoo is no longer visible. Thankfully, there is a high success rate.The expense of removal is usually correlated directly with the effectiveness. Higher costs equal better results. Options include temporary makeup, removal creams, natural solutions and laser surgery. The most effective option is laser surgery, but the cost can be prohibitive. Most of the time, removal systems will not make a tattoo fully vanish, but can make the tattoo significantly less visible. The best way to avoid regrets about getting a tattoo is to give careful thought to the design and artist before getting one. Except for makeup, the removal systems described below all remove pigment by breaking it into smaller pieces which can be absorbed by scavenger cells in the body.If you choose to use one of the removal systems below, be sure to take a picture of your tattoo in bright light. Once you start using a removal system, you will be able to compare before and after shots to see if the tattoo is fading.Covering a Tattoo with Makeup
If you are interested in covering a tattoo for a period of time like while visiting your in-laws or going to work at a conservative company, consider using tattoo cosmetics to temporarily hide your ink. You can camouflage a tattoo with makeup like Tattoo Camo. This makeup is a two part fix. The camouflage paste hides the tattoo and the sealer keeps the makeup from smudging or bleeding onto clothing. If you choose to use makeup, be sure to buy a remover designed to dissolve both the paste and the sealer without damaging the pigment of the tattoo. Several companies offer tattoo makeup which use a similar system as Tattoo Camo. Using paste and pencils, these products cover the tattoo with a thick concealer and then seal the makeup to the skin with another product. Other companies that offer tattoo makeup include Dermablend, Ben Nye, Mehron and Blood Mary. Reviews of tattoo makeup vary between users. Check out the latest reviews online before you buy, know the company’s return policy and keep your receipt.

Removal Creams
Laser surgery is your best bet for removal, but can be costly. If you cannot afford laser surgery, an alternative is to use a removal cream at home. Tat B Gone and Tattoo-OFF both offer creams that can be ordered online. These creams fade tattoos over time. The process typically takes several months to complete. The cost of the cream is around $75 per month of use. The average user will spend around $400.

Reviews of tattoo removal creams vary. Some creams contain chemicals that are harsh on the skin and can cause other skin problems or infection to occur. Creams must be used consistently and according to the manufacturer’s directions. Most of the time, creams are required to be applied several times per day. Users must dedicate themselves to use the product regularly to see results. Before purchasing a removal cream, be sure to check the company’s product guarantee and return policy.

Natural Solutions
Natural solutions are made from a mixture of ingredients you can purchase at your local grocery store and pharmacy. The results vary widely from person to person. These solutions take a long time to work and must be used habitually. In general, natural solutions need to be applied to the skin several times per day. Some folks choose to use this method to see if it will work before springing for the cost of laser surgery. Here are a couple of natural solutions to try:

• Make a mix of one part Vitamin E oil, one part aloe vera gel and one part apricot scrub. Apply the mixture to the tattoo and rub it into the skin with a gentle circular motion. Let the mixture sit on the skin for 10 minutes and rinse with cold water. Repeat three to four times per day.
• Make a mix of one part Vitamin E oil and one part aloe vera gel. Apply to skin in a circular motion using a Q-tip. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Next, make a paste of equal parts turmeric and yogurt. Apply to the skin and let it dry. Once the mixture is dry, leave it on the skin for 10 minutes. Rinse the mixture off using cold water and a wet washcloth. Use this method one time per day.
• Mix one part sanding powder and one part aloe vera gel. Apply the mixture to the tattoo. Use a pumice stone to rub the mixture into the skin in a circular motion. Rub the skin gently for several minutes. Repeat two to three times per day.

People who use either of these solutions must take care to keep the area sanitary by washing with soap and water. There is a risk of skin infection and irritation with both of these options. It is important to keep the area clean and disinfected while using a natural solution. The best time to use a natural solution is when you have just gotten out of a hot shower and the pores of the skin are open. Results vary widely from person to person. If you do not see results after four weeks, you can safely conclude that the solution is not working.

Laser Surgery for tattoo removal

Laser surgery is the preferred and most successful method of removal. This procedure offers patients a bloodless, low risk option. Most dermatological surgeons state that full tattoo removal is impossible. However, most tattoos can be faded to a point close to invisible using laser surgery. When searching for a laser surgeon, be aware that most will not guarantee complete removal.

Tattoos come in all shapes, sizes and colors. The degree of success for a removal of a tattoo depends on factors ranging from the size, color and location of the tattoo to how quickly a person’s skin heals. Other factors to consider are how long the tattoo has been on the body and how the tattoo was applied. Newer tattoos are often more difficult to remove than older ones. Experienced tattoo artists typically tattoo pigment consistently and to an even layer in the skin which makes them easier to remove. Blue and black are the easiest colors to remove from the skin. Yellow and green are the hardest. Lasers function similar to sunlight. They are attracted to darker pigments. Since yellow and green are lighter colors and closer in color to the pigment of skin, lasers have a difficult time differentiating these pigments from a person’s natural color.

Over the last decade, lasers have become the favored method for removal. For most people, several procedures are required before the tattoo fades. The number of procedures one will need depends upon the size, scope and age of the tattoo. Lasers emit pulses of light. The type of lasers used in removal employ a technique called Q-switching, which refers to the type and duration of pulse the laser gives off. The light emitted from the laser moves through the skin to the layer where the pigment resides. The pulses break the pigment of the tattoo into smaller pieces. Once the pieces of pigment are small enough, they are absorbed by the immune system by scavenger cells. Typically, the procedure is not long and only takes a few minutes. Patients take three week breaks in between treatments to allow the immune system to work on removing the tattoo. Lasers are designed to target only the pigment of the tattoo. In general, lasers will not harm the natural pigmentation of the skin.

Laser surgery can be mildly painful. The pain has been described to feel like hot bacon grease hitting the skin or having a rubber band repeatedly snapped on the area during treatment. Doctors recommend that patients concerned with the pain of laser surgery take non-aspirin pain relievers such as Tylenol to relieve discomfort. Non-aspirin pain relievers should be taken an hour before treatment. Aspirin and anti-inflammatory agents are not recommended because they can cause noticeable bruising after the procedure. Some patients use an anesthetic cream prescribed by their doctor before the procedure. Other patients receive an injection of anesthetic into the tattoo before the removal procedure begins. Many people opt not to use pain relievers or anesthetics.

After the visit, the doctor will apply antiseptic cream and dressing to lessen the risk of infection. Patients can shower the same day, but the area should be washed lightly by hand and never scrubbed with a washcloth. During the entire removal process, it is important to keep the treated area clean to prevent infection. The area may sting similar to sunburn and be red in color for several weeks.

Most laser surgery procedures are successful. Risks include infection, lack of complete removal of the pigment and a small chance of scarring. The risk of infection is significantly reduced by the way the patient cares for the affected area. Some people experience a lack of pigmentation in the skin while others experience an abundance of pigmentation. Only 5% of people experience scarring or adverse pigmentation of the treated area.

Having a tattoo removed using laser surgery is typically more expensive than having a tattoo applied. The cost of laser surgery depends on the size and location of the tattoo as well as the number of treatments needed to remove it. The price can range from several hundreds of dollars into the thousands. If you are considering using laser surgery, make sure the person you work with is a medical doctor specializing in laser surgery. Ask to see before and after pictures from the procedures the doctor has done in the past. Be sure you understand the doctor’s expectation of success in removing the tattoo. Ask the doctor to give you an approximate cost and for the number of procedures he or she thinks will be necessary. Discuss any existing medical conditions you have with during your consultation to make sure you are a candidate for laser surgery. People with skin issues such as rosacea or eczema may not be a fit for laser surgery.

In the recent past, various medical procedures were used to remove tattoos. These procedures include:

Dermabrasion. Dermabrasion is a procedure where the skin is sanded to remove layers.

Cryosurgery. Cryosurgery is a process where layers of skin are frozen and then removed.

Excision. Excision is the process of surgically removing the skin with a scalpel. Depending upon the size of the tattoo, stitches and/or a skin graft may be necessary to heal the wound created by excision.

Though some of these methods are still practiced, laser surgery has become more popular than all of these medical procedures because it involves less risk of infection and scarring. Laser surgery does not cause bleeding and is considered less painful. If you are considering using a medical doctor to remove your tattoo, consult with a laser surgeon rather than someone specializing in the outdated treatments listed above.


 Tattoo Removal

History of Tattoos

300px Tattooed Maori History of Tattoos

English: Tattooed Maori; /34 Picturesque_New_Zealand Non-fiction book about New Zealand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Captain Cook is considered to be the Western man who discovered tattoos when he encountered them during his adventures in the South Pacific in 1769, but the art dates back to ancient cultures all over the world. In fact, scientists believe that markings on the Iceman, a mummified body thought to be from 3300 B.C., are tattoos. These markings are currently the oldest evidence of tattooing in the world. Tattoos have also been found on Egyptian and Nubian mummies dating back to around 2000 B.C. Classic texts indicate that tattooing was a common practice among the ancient Greeks, Germans, Gauls and Britons.The Iceman was discovered in 1992 at the border of Austria and Italy. He is believed to have lived somewhere around 3300 B.C., which makes him over 5000 years old. He was found frozen under ice. Because he was frozen, he is extraordinarily well preserved. Archaeologists count 58 tattoos on his body. These tattoos are simple lines and dots. Researchers consider the Iceman to have been an average man and conclude that tattooing was a normal cultural practice when he was alive.

The oldest known picture tattoos were found in Siberia. A line of frozen graves were discovered in the Altai Mountains in Southern Siberia just after World War II. While excavating a well preserved grave of a chieftain, archaeologists found his body covered in tattoos of different animals.

Hawaiians, Tahitians and Polynesians regularly practiced the art of tattooing. These are the tattoos Captain Cook discovered during his travels. Though Captain Cook thought he discovered something new, the art of tattoo had been practiced for thousands of years.
The word tattoo originates from the Tahitian word tatau, which means “to mark.”


Methods of Tattooing

Just as they do today, methods of tattooing varied among cultures and tribes of the ancient world. Pricking the skin with a sharp needle was the typical practice of tattooing among the tribes of North and South America. The people of Polynesia and Micronesia inserted pigment into the skin by tapping a tool that resembled a small rake. In Hawaii, tattoo artists used the razor sharp edge of a shell attached to the end of a stick. In Nubia, designs were tattooed on flesh using a fish bone set into a wooden handle.


Reasons for Tattooing

The reasons for getting a tattoo in ancient times vary just as much as they do today. The tattoos on the Iceman are believed to be for therapeutic reasons. According to researchers, the tattoos found on his body correlate directly to areas where he experienced repeated muscle strain. Egyptians also used tattooing for therapeutic purposes. Several female mummies have been found with markings that indicate they were tattooed during pregnancy to alleviate pain. Egyptians also tattooed women during religious rituals.

For many tribes, tattoos were used to represent status. People in the upper class had more tattoos than those in the lower class. In general, the intricacy of the tattoos indicated a higher social status as well.

Some tribal members, like the chieftain uncovered in Siberia, wore tattoos of their totem animal for luck or protection. A totem animal is believed to assist or watch over a group of people. Some tribes believe that their totem animal has magical powers.

Ancient Greek and Roman women believed tattoos to be exotic beauty marks. They wore them as women today wear makeup. In contrast, ancient Greeks and Romans also tattooed criminals, gladiators and slaves as a mark of lower class or punishment.

Polynesian tattoos are considered the most detailed and skillful in the ancient world. In general, Polynesians tattooed themselves to display the strength of their mana which means “life force.”

Hawaiian tattoos were known as kakaus which means “ornamentations.” Hawaiians tattooed to note distinction in rank and war. They also tattooed to guard health and spiritual well-being. Hawaiians sometimes used totem animals in their designs. When in mourning, Hawaiians tattooed three dots on their tongue.

In Tahiti, tattoos were used to mark a girl who has reached sexual maturity. At the appropriate age, the girl’s behind was tattooed black. Tahitians also used tattoos to mark status and tribal affiliation.

The Maori people of New Zealand were well known for their unique style of tattooing. They tattooed skin in the same way they carved wood. Their method was to slice small rivers in the skin. These tattoos were often on the face and told stories of status, ancestry and tribal affiliation. Warriors were also tattooed to tell the tales of their exploits in war.

300px Maoritattoo History of Tattoos

Tattooed back of a Māori Chief, New Zealand, 19th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In ancient Thailand, monks were the only tattoo artists. They incorporated magic powers into the designs they tattooed. Monks in Thailand were not allowed to touch women so they only tattooed men. During ancient times, Thais also believed that women had enough strength on their own and did not need the magical powers of the tattoo.

Native Americans tattooed for various reasons according to tribe. For some, the tattoo represented status and successes in battle. In other tribes, tattoos represented animal totems. In most tribes, women showed their marital status with a tattoo on the chin.
During the Crusades of the 11th and 12th centuries, warriors tattooed the Jerusalem cross on their bodies so they would be given a Christian burial if they died in combat.

Japan has a very interesting history in the art of tattoo. Upper class people in Japan wore intricately decorated kimonos, but lower class people were not permitted to wear decorative kimonos. In response, lower class people rebelled by tattooing colorful body suits on themselves. These people hid their tattoos beneath their clothes during the day.


Bringing the Tattoo to the Masses

Initially, Western folk considered tattoos to be scary and repulsive. Much of Christian culture viewed tattoos as a defiling of the body. In fact, American Indians and Polynesians made money showing their “horrifying” tattoos at circuses and fairs during the 18th and 19th centuries.

In 1846, this attitude began to change. In this year, the first permanent tattoo shop was set up in New York City. This tattoo shop was frequented by military servicemen. Martin Hildebrandt began the shop and also started the tradition of the tattoo among military personnel. In the 1890s, his daughter, Nora, became famous when she toured with the Barnum and Bailey Circus as the Tattooed Lady.

Japan banned tattoos in 1870. Japanese men and women responded by taking the art of tattoo underground. People tattooed themselves to display their inner longings and impulses. These tattoos were usually colorful and vibrant. This style of bright and bold tattoos lives on in Japanese culture today.

In 1891, Samuel O’Reilly invented the electric tattooing machine. After this invention, the art of tattooing became more efficient and detailed. Due to this invention, the popularity of tattoos grew. The design of O’Reilly’s tattoo machine was so excellent that tattoo machines are still based on it today.

By the end of the 1920s, circuses employed more than 300 people with full-body tattoos. These tattooed men and women were mostly white, American Indian and Polynesian. They could earn up to $200 per week. This amount was a fortune at that time.

After the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped in 1932, many parents had their children tattooed with their family name. Around this time, women also became interested in using tattoos as permanent makeup. In 1936, social security cards were issued in the United States. Many people had their social security numbers tattooed on their arm.

In the 1960s, there was a decline in the popularity of tattooing due to an outbreak of Hepatitis B. In 1961, New York City banned tattooing, fearing an epidemic. The ban remained in effect until 1997.


The Art of Tattoo in Today’s World

Today tattoos serve as many purposes as they did in ancient times. Military men, gang members and sorority girls are just some of the people who get a tattoo to show affiliation with their tribe. Tattoos are used to memorialize a loved one or to show grief. Competitive athletes use tattoos to commemorate a victory in battle by tattooing their best marathon time, fastest pitch or longest winning streak on their bodies. Women and men use tattoos to decorate an area of their body they either love or hate. People get tattoos of their personal symbols of strength and power. Prisoner use tattoos to tell the story of the crimes they have committed.

Today, tattoos are popular among all classes of people. Famous actors, athletes and models regularly strut their ink. High school graduates flock to tattoo parlors and view getting their first tattoo as a rite of passage. Grandfathers and grandmothers see no shame in getting a tattoo. Newlyweds tattoo wedding bands instead of buying rings.

The styles of tattoos available have never been more varied. Some tattoo artists specialize in recreating the indigenous tattoos of the ancient world while other artists are creating new, innovative ways to ink.


 History of Tattoos