Think Before You Ink
In the past 15 years the percentage of Americans with at least one tattoo has nearly doubled. Clearly ink is no longer for leather jacket rebels and military alumni; rather, we have entered an age of body modification that is going to make for one interesting senior population in the future. Despite the mainstreaming of tattoos, they still carry with them an act of spontaneity. And why shouldn’t they? It takes a random spur of courage to have hundreds of needles inject ink into your skin for an extended period of time. But before you make that fateful trip to the tattoo parlor, make sure you can answer these questions about your lifelong artwork.
What do you want to get?
This is often the starting point for most people looking to get some ink. Generally it starts when you see a picture, a symbol or a quote that speaks to you. Suddenly you think “I need that in my skin” and the journey begins. Whether you spend hours on Google scrolling through images or create it yourself, eventually you will settle on the design. The next best move: size it and print it out. Most tattoo parlors can make a stencil out of a printed or drawn image that can be put on you like a temporary. This way you can make sure the placement and size is just right. One last point: do not worry about having to explain your tattoo to anyone. It is your body and the meaning or purpose only has to matter to you.
Where do you want to get it?
This can actually be the most difficult question when getting a tattoo depending on previous tattoos, your field of work and levels of pain. Obviously unless you want a cover-up, every tattoo is going to cross off one more place where you could get future ones. Also, any student has heard that ink can keep you from getting a professional job. With the inclusion of diversity policies across fields of work tattoos are becoming commonplace from corporate positions to medical staff. A certain amount of concealment is usually asked for though, so do consider how well you can cover the tattoo when necessary. Finally, take a look at the graphic below when deciding where to put your artwork. Tattoos are a painful endeavor; let the timid tread lightly.
What colors do you want?
Have you considered what goes into that ink you are injecting into your skin? Because those pigments come from some interesting sources. For example, some colors can include nickel, lead, titanium and other heavy metals that can cause inflammation and allergic reactions. Black and red are often made with the most harmful ingredients including iron and iron oxide. Among the safest colors are non-neon yellow, blue and green as they can use herbal sources. Most reputable tattoo parlors will avoid ink
manufacturers that are known for side effects and make their customers aware of the risk.
Is your tattoo artist certified and safe?
We have all heard horror stories of basement tattoos that lead to botched jobs and infection. Luckily the field of tattooing has become regulated to a greater extent over the years. Certifications on both an individual and business level are necessary for most parlors and are displayed or provided to all customers. Social media has also allowed for reviews and comments to be posted about an artist, so you can find all the dirt (or lack thereof) on the person doing your ink.
Are you ready to have this for the rest of your life/Are you intoxicated?
As previously stated, spontaneity plays a role in tattooing. If you are in any way intoxicated consider waiting before you get that life-like rendering of your high school girlfriend on your bicep. Not to mention you sign a release stating you are sober; try to not lie on these documents. While you do not need to explain your tattoo to anyone, you should make sure it is not spur of the moment ink but is something you can treasure for years to come. Think before you ink.