tagReviews & EssaysBody Art: Tattoos

Body Art: Tattoos

byJoseki Ko©

Body Art: Tattoos

Tattoos have been around since the Paleolithic area and have even been found on the frozen corpse of a Bronze Age man. Most tattoos through out history have been of the blue ink variety. Only recently have other colors become available. Even black light sensitive tattoos are now available.

Tattooing was originally a tribal thing; in fact Borneo is one of the few places in the world where traditional tribal tattooing is still practiced today just as it has been for thousands of years. Until recently many of the inland tribes had little contact with the outside world. As a result, they have preserved many aspects of their traditional way of life, including tattooing.

The Chinese considered tattooing a sign of barbarism and used it only as a punishment. Tattooing was widely used to identify criminals and outcasts. Outcasts were tattooed on the arms: a cross might be tattooed on the inner forearm, or a straight line on the outside of the forearm or on the upper arm. Criminals were marked with a variety of symbols which designated the places where the crimes were committed. Tattooing was reserved for those who had committed serious crimes, and individuals bearing tattoo marks were ostracized by their families and denied all participation in the life of the community. For the Japanese, who valued family membership and social position above all things, tattooing was particularly severe and terrible form of punishment. On the flip side of the coin many Polynesians considered it beautiful and the women as well as the men sported tattoos.

Tattooing officially fell into disfavor with the church in the 797 A.D. when it was associated with paganism. Druids openly wore blue tattoos as a sign of achievement in their faith. The Catholic clergy citing that it was a sin to “damage that which was fashioned in God's image” threw tattooing into official disfavor.

Tattooing has been practiced in the US since 1840. However from then until the early seventies tattoos were simple monochromatic designs. In the early seventies artists began experimenting with different color inks and designs. Back then most tattoos were set images rather than truly custom pieces. Most tattoo shops still prefer the ‘bank’ of images rather than anything truly custom, but custom work is in greater demand now than ever before.

The methods used in tattooing have greatly improved as well. Before the invention of the modern tattoo machine or ‘gun’, tattoos were harder and more time consuming to acquire. The artist would use tools such as sharp bone and rocks to prick the skin. Then when enough holes had been punctured the artist would rub powder into the wounds. As these healed the powder would stay under the skin. Modern techniques are much faster, safer, and more elegant. The modern machine is a gun-shaped machine for creating a tattoo, i.e. marking skin with ink. Tattoo machines utilize electromagnetic coils in alternation to move the needle bar up and down, which drives the pigment into the skin.

The basic machine was invented by Thomas Edison, and patented in the United States in 1876, as the autographic printer, which was intended as an engraving device. In 1891, Samuel O'Reilly found Edison's machine could be modified to introduce ink into skin, and patented the tube and needle system, which is still use today. In fact, modern tattoo machines are essentially the same machine as the one O'Reilly invented.

Questions and answers on tattooing.

Legally you must be at least 18 to get a tattoo unless your parent is with you and they sign a release form.

Prices on tattoos vary greatly with the work demanded. A set image tattoo that is one color may only be around thirty or forty dollars. The more complex you get the more it will cost. Eventually there is a charge by the hour price. Normally about fifty dollars

If you’re an artist or even if your not you may design your own tattoo and any competent artist will be more than happy to take your money and give you what you want. Remember complexity and size equal cash.

You may place a tattoo anywhere on your body that you can talk an artist into. The real difference is in the pain threshold. Areas with less fat such as your feet, hands and head will hurt the most. Then areas of your body that are always clothed will be a little tenderer than those that are exposed. There are also nerve centers in the body. If your artist hits one of those it’s really going to hurt. The places most people put tattoos is on their upper arms or thighs. They hurt the least. Shoulder blades and ankles are also common.

Most tattoo shops use a sterilizer to sterilize their equipment. The shop where I have mine done promises a new needle for every customer. If you call around they will tell you about safety. After all the want you to come back.

Eating before getting a tattoo is a good idea. Your metabolic rate will be up because of the adrenaline generated, and you’ll want to keep your energy level up.

Try not to go swimming or tanning until your tattoo heals. Both would be harmful to your tattoo. Remember you will have this tattoo for the rest of your life and screwing it up is something you’ll have to live with for a long time.

In that same vein, let’s talk after care for your tattoo. I’ve never met two artist’s with exactly the same outlook on this so let me post a few guidelines. Leave your tattoo bandaged overnight. Remove the bandages carefully, if they stick to you apply warm soap and water. Wash the area firmly with warm water and mild soap. Keep your tattoo covered in ointment until it heals. Neosporin is the best ointment for the job.

Despite popular TV shows, tattoo artists will generally not work on you if your drunk. Being drunk generally means you’ll be moving. Moving during a session is bad. If the artist makes a mistake he either has to cover it or let you live with it. Also a tattoo artist that makes mistakes generally gets into a lot of fights.

If you plan on getting a tattoo in a hairy location, let the artist shave you. Also watch out for tattoos that would look bad hairy, such as putting a picture of your mom on your very hairy chest. In a couple of weeks she might look like the bearded lady.

Covering, it is possible to cover a tattoo with a different tattoo, this is however subject to limitations. Tattoo ink is translucent, meaning that a dark tattoo will show through a light one. Tattoo removal is also medically possible. Great strides have been made in the last few years on this. It used to be that you could tell who had removed a tattoo by the horrendous scars. Modern science has mostly reduced the scarring effect. It is also possible to cover scars with a tattoo, but it is generally wise to wait five years for the scar to fade.

All tattoo artists must start out somewhere. I demand to look at sketches the artist has done and pictures he has taken of his work. I also look for an artist that has been doing this for several years.

Can tattoos have hidden meanings? Yes for a lot of people getting a tattoo marks something significant and they love to tell the story about it. Two tattoos that I will warn you about though are a tear drop under an eye, or spider webs on an elbow are generally announcements that you have killed someone and gotten away with it.

Last and certainly not least I did mention that black light tattoos are now available. One very significant side effect of this particular ink is death. It’s poisonous, so finding an artist that will mark your body using this ink may be a chore. And yes there have been deaths caused by this.

WARNING: For my last piece of advice I should mention that tattoos are addictive get one give it a year or so and you’ll want another and another.

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byJoseki Ko© 0 comments/ 21069 views/ 0 favorites

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