Tattoos can be more than just a piece of art on the body. They are a symbol of self- expression and individualism and can tell a story about one's beliefs, interests, and passions, or even about a family or loved one. In some countries, unique tattoos signify a specific group. People with the same design knew they were part of the same family. They symbolized support and protection for each member of that group.
Much misunderstanding and misinformation exists about tattoos leading many people to believe that tattoos are dangerous or painful to apply. Some strongly believe they are inappropriate for the human skin and have taken steps to ban tattoo studios in their communities. Others believe tattoos are an essential art form of expression and fight for the rights to have them.
Below is a basic guideline for those considering a tattoo:
- Once a tattoo design and artist has been chosen, valid identification will be requested for proof of age. Address and phone number may need to be given in case the artist needs to contact you.
- In most studios, payment must be made before services are rendered. Regardless of the method, get a receipt.
- The tattoo chair, which may be similar to a dentist chair, or a regular table and chairs, will be either in an open work area or private room. If you don't want others to watch, request a private room in advance.
- The body area for the tattoo will be cleaned and rubbed with alcohol. Hair will be shaved from the area with a new disposable razor, which will be discarded after being used.
- Most tattoo artists use a thermal-fax to make the tattoo stencil. Instead of taking hours to trace the tattoo, the design is put into this machine, which transfers the tattoo onto a special thermal paper in seconds.
- Soap, water or deodorant may be used to moisten the skin to help transfer the tattoo and to make it appear darker on the skin.
- When the thermal paper is pulled away, a purple-blue tattoo outline will appear.
- Tattoo inks will be placed in little tiny cups. Needles and tubes will be removed from their sterile pouches and placed in the tattoo machine. Distilled water will be used to clean the needles as the colors needed change.
- Ointment placed over the tattoo design will help prevent the transfer from rubbing off. Smooth skin also helps the needle slide along the skin.
- The first needle will be applied. Don't hold your breath if you're nervous because you may pass out. Instead, take slow deep breaths and try to relax. The first minute may be the roughest, but once the skin gets adjusted to the needles the pain will subside.
- Once the tattoo line work is finished, shades and color will be applied. Depending on tattoo size a different set of needles or machines may be used.
- Once finished, the artist may want to take a photo of your tattoo for their portfolio.
- A protective layer of ointment will be applied to the tattoo to prevent airborne bacteria from infecting the area.
- A bandage will be applied. Keep the bandage on for the amount of time the artist instructs.
- You be given written and verbal instructions about tattoo aftercare.