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Archive for the ‘health and safety’ Category

The evolution of tattoo culture

Posted by Anj Marth on 07/29/2014

tiger tattoo

tiger tattoo

To understand the current popularity of tattoo art in the US and Europe, it is important to know a little bit about its past.

Tattooing is one of the oldest art forms known to exist. The oldest preserved human skin ever found is decorated with tattoos that were done during life. It is used as a form of expression in the majority of the world’s cultures, and has been used for many purposes throughout history. In the last century in the West, it has been less common than in other parts of the world and in previous times. Recently, there has been a resurgence in its popularity.

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Posted in conventions, deep thoughts, female tattoo artist, health and safety, interview with the artist, learning, old school, old timey, tat zap wizard, Tattoo, tattooing, true stories | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

If you want to get rid of a tattoo, read this.

Posted by Anj Marth on 07/23/2014

fullAs a tattoo artist, and as someone who’s had to remove a few unsightly tatoos, I can tell you that, unfortunately, it’s going to hurt. And it’s going to cost money.

In the past, people had to rely on some not-very-efficient methods of tattoo removal.

Dermabrasion, or “scrubbing”, was once the most common method of tattoo removal. Sadly, dermabrasion does not penetrate the skin deeply enough to remove a tattoo; unless it’s done improperly, the tattoo will only fade slightly. Effective dermabrasion leaves behind welts and large keloid scars. These are caused by the chemical burn to the underlayers of the skin, and can’t be removed or fixed. Unsightly scars are the most common outcome of dermabrasion.

Others have tried tattooing the area with hydrogen peroxide, or some other concoction. This usually has no effect on a previously existing tattoo. In theory, it should work. But in reality, the tattoo ink sits beneath the shedding layer of the skin. Reaching it in order to remove it takes more than just causing a fresh wound on the surface. These methods are about as effective as covering a tattoo up with water-in other words, it doesn’t work at all.

Unscrupulous people often try to sell “tattoo removal” kits which include chemicals, or patches imperganted with chemicals, to be applied over the area that is tattooed. Basically, these are simply methods for achieving a large chemical burn, and the massive wounding may ytemporarily hide the tattoo. Once it heals, though, you’re left with not only a bad tattoo you don’t want, but one which has scars all over the surface.

The only real option for completely removing a tattoo is the laser. These have been around for quite some time, but only within the last decade or so have they been used to remove tattoos.

The process is pretty painful; it feels like a hot rubber band being twanged against the skin repeatedly. However, most facilities use some kind of anaesthetic ointment before and during the process.

Laser tattoo removal can take time. To completely remove a tattoo, multiple sessions are required. Professionally-applied and brightly-colored inks are harder to remove than grey or faded amateur tattoos. This is because the ink used professionally is denser and of higher quality. After just one session, you should see some fading. After a few, the tattoo may be almost unnoticeable.

53b0e0c0 (1)Laser treatment has become less expensive and more accessible in general in the last few years. A half hour session now may only cost about the price of the tattoo. Multiple sessions to completely remove a tattoo can become pricey after a while, but for some people it’s worth it.

Many laser removal specialists will also work with your tattoo artist to lighten specific areas of a tattoo in order to make a cover-up tattoo more easily accomplished. Lightening an old tattoo in order to cover it more effectively is definitely an option for those who like having tattoos, but dislike a specific design they’ve gotten.

In short, don’t trust those who would sell you a shortcut for tattoo removal. The laser removal treatments are the only non-scarring choice for real tattooo removal. There are no shortcuts when it comes to your skin.

Posted in clients, complaints, dos and donts, health and safety, questions, removal, tat zap wizard, Tattoo, tattooing, you | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Does it hurt to get a tattoo?

Posted by Anj Marth on 07/22/2014

6368_117697942711_7645712_nPain is defined as an unpleasant sensation. Most people avoid pain at all costs. Tattoos do hurt- but not in the way you’d think.

Most people, that is, who don’t work out, diet, wear makeup or high heels, or get tattooed. The phrase “no pain, no gain” is as apt with tattooing as with any other uncomfortable act people perform for a better reward. The profit, in this case, a permanent decoration, outweighs the discomfort.

Tattoos, while painful, are not distressingly so. The pain results from surface nerves in the upper layer of skin and the hair follicles being punctured or pressed on by a group of small, hair-fine needles inserted rapidly about 1-2 mm into the skin.

Tattoo needles in a typical tattoo machine move in and out so rapidly that they can’t be seen in motion, only as a blur. The sensation is not like punctures or pokes, but more like a continuous tingling scratch. Most of the damage to the skin is from the friction of the needles’ motion, not the punctures.

During a tattoo, sensations range from mild and almost dull to very sharp and intense. When the process first begins, the body responds strongly to the sensations, releasing endorphins (the same hormones that cause a “runner’s high”) and adrenalin. Adrenalin can cause a fight-or-flight response, making the process very uncomfortable at the beginning.

Once the endorphins are absorbed by the system, however, the sensations rapidly become duller and less urgent. The pain may be just as unpleasant, but becomes less intense and attention-grabbing. This is the stage some people refer to as “numbing”. Some people even fall asleep during this stage of a tattoo.

14991_381213057711_3789778_nThe endorphin rush associated with getting tattooed, or with running marathons, is notorious for becoming addictive. It is the same internal reaction that’s mimicked by the drugs ecstasy and morphine, among others.

Endorphins cause a warm inner glow, like that caused by running or tanning. They block the body’s pain receptors, so while they’re in the system other pains (like a sore back, or previous injury) are also diminished. They also flood the brain with dopamines, which allow the body to recover from injury by relaxing. This after-tattoo “buzz” more than makes up for the previous pain for many people, and can account for the addictiveness of tattooing.

People who are getting their first tattoo have usually weighed the pros and cons, and are interested enough in the personal expression to be gained by applying the image to deal with some level of pain. It is for most a planned decision; and most tattooed people will say that the first tattoo they acquired hurt much less than they’d anticipated.

So why, if they think it will be so painful, would they still get it done? Most would say it’s because they wanted the tattoo badly enough not to care. Some are seeking personal pride in having conquered the pain, using mind-over-matter as a test of their willpower or inner strength. Others are already adept at dealing with physical pain, and don’t see it as an obstacle at all; and a very small group actually enjoy pain. In ten years as a professional and busy tattoo artist, I’ve only met two of these out of thousands of clients.

Some say pain is change resisted, or that pain is growth, or that beauty is suffering. In short, people are willing to suffer in order to look the way they’d like to look. They will deal with some pain in order to bring their soul to the surface.

 

(written by me, originally published at this link)

Posted in complaints, deep thoughts, female tattoo artist, health and safety, interview with the artist, oregon tattoo artists, questions, surviving your first tattoo, tat zap wizard, Tattoo, tattooing, you | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

four essential aftercare tips for fresh tattoos.

Posted by Anj Marth on 07/19/2014

398191_10151137265617712_1686171381_nTattoos, just like a fur or a pair of old favorite boots, require some care to stand the test of time.

Tattoos done before about 1990 have little hope of staying clear and unsullied by sun and weather and wear. The inks used before that time had many pigment ingredients which could react to sun exposure, and to the wearer’s own body fluids. These days, most tattoo inks used by professional artists are inert and hypo-allergenic, and at the very least should not react to the skin itself. They can still be faded and worn if not cared for properly. (Some people might still be allergic to certain inks, but it’s very rare.)

A tattoo is ink that is permanently set just under the translucent top layer of skin. This top layer is like an elastic window that you look through to see the ink. If the top layer is damaged or thickened or darkened, it becomes a dirty window. Age, sun exposure, and scars can all obscure a gorgeous tattoo and turn it into indecipherable mud. Also, the darker your skin, the more “tint” that window has.

  • First and most destructive on the list of tattoo-destroyers is the sun. Just as a photograph left in the sun will fade over time, the pigments in a tattoo will fade. The pigmentation of skin is a poor defense, and putting sunblock on your tattoo will keep it looking fresh over the years. If you tan, try using a high SPF lip balm, and apply it just to the tattooed area. If you use a stick lip balm you can use it like a crayon and color in just the tattoo, letting the skin right up to it tan. This makes the tattoo look even newer next to the tanned area. If you will be out in the sun use a high SPF sunblock, even if your tattoo was done last year. The pigments can be faded even after the tattoo is long healed. Don’t start with sunblock until the tattoo is at least two weeks old.
  • Second, wrinkles will obscure your tattoo, and may even distort it. Over the years, the cells in skin shift a bit and change relative position. As any dermatologist will tell you, avoiding sun exposure and staying hydrated keep wrinkles away. This will help your tattoo, also. Once the tattoo is applied it becomes part of your largest organ- your skin. What is good for your skin is good for your tattoo, too, so drink enough water. Moisturizing the tattooed area helps. Even years after the procedure, the area that was tattooed remembers the abrasion, and can get dehydrated more quickly than the rest of your skin. So be sure to continue moisturizing occasionally, even after the tattoo heals.
  • Third, accidents happen. Scars that destroy tattoos are almost never intentional. The good news is that most scars can be tattooed over. Unless the scar is raised more than 1/4 inch from the surface, or is heavily textured, there are many tattoo artists that are willing to repair or retouch scars. If you’re planning on repairing a tattoo that’s been scarred over, try to allow at least six months for the scar tissue to “settle”. Use some light vitamin E oil or Emu oil on it from time to time and massage against the grain of the scar. This can sometimes help reduce the texture of the scar, and makes the tissue softer and easier to tattoo over.
  • Last but not least, if your artist offers a free touch-up, take advantage of it within a few months. The best time to get tattooed is in the winter, when your new art won’t get exposed to the sun. But no matter when you get worked on, wait until after the summer sun has done its damage before you go back to get a touch-up. This way, the artist gets the satisfaction of a second look at your work, and you get to repair any damage the vacation did to your new ink.

 

When your artist gives you care instructions, follow them to the letter. Every artist uses different techniques to apply a tattoo, and usually they know which healing procedure will work best in conjunction with it. Artists use such a variety of needle, ink, and bandaging material- as well as the variatons in YOUR body’s healing ability- that it’s impossible to give out one universal set of aftercare directions.

532637_10150946499952712_7830756_nDon’t listen to your friends, other artists, or people you meet out and about. If you don’t trust the artist to know best, you should buy your tattoo from someone you DO trust. Pick an artist who you trust, and listen to them. They know how to help you heal your new work.

 

It’s OUR job to put the tattoo in just the right layer of your skin, just right. It’s YOUR job to do the other half- to heal your tattoo properly. Keep your tattoos clean while healing, and wash your hands before touching a fresh tattoo. Don’t wear tight things that will rub against or irritate your tattoo. Don’t swim or surf for the first few weeks. And most of all, let your tattoo get air.

A well-healed tattoo will make you happy for decades. Taking a few weeks to care for it properly is COMPLETELY worth it.

(written by me, originally published here)

Posted in art, clients, DIY, dos and donts, female tattoo artist, health and safety, oregon tattoo artists, posts with lists in them, questions, step by step, surviving your first tattoo, tat zap wizard, Tattoo, tattooing, you | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

What to do when your kid wants a tattoo!

Posted by Anj Marth on 07/18/2014

164103_487686512711_1326404_nThere are a lot of younger people today who are very interested in tattoos. In many cultures tattoos are used as a rite of passage from youth to adulthood, and in our Western culture it is no different. The lack of culturally-based rites of passage and tests of maturity leads many teenagers to seek alternate forms of self-challenge, and tattooing is currently high on that list.

Children are only tattooed usually by indigenous or tribal groups to whom it is a cultural staple. Occasionally there will be a photograph of a child wearing airbrushed tattoos (which are painted on) in a magazine, but actual children are extremely rarely tattooed. If they are, it can be considered child abuse.

Although most jurisdictions outlaw the tattooing of minors, many children and teenagers will tattoo themselves at home, using sewing or other needles and common household dyes and inks. This can be extremely dangerous; using an unsterilized needle or one that has been used on another person can transmit disease or cause serious infections. Home-made tattoos tend to be deeper in the skin surface than professional tattoos, and this can lead to infections that cause excessive scarring.

Most commonly found dyes and inks in home use are not inert and can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Young people should NOT use household items to tattoo themselves; this is a given. That they WILL do it, is incontestable. Educating young people and explaining to them that sharing needles (no matter what sort of home “sterilization” they invent) can transmit HIV, hepatitis, and bacterial infections, is a good beginning; also it may help to explain that running a needle through flame, boiling it, or soaking it in alcohol or antibacterial wipes will not kill all bacteria or viruses that may be present.

221622_10150169153602712_298593_nIn addition, a home environment contains many bacteria and other germs that could infect a fresh tattoo. Lack of proper knowledge about cross-contamination and bloodborne pathogens can put kids at serious risk when they get tattooed in a home environment.

Since minors can not obtain a legal tattoo, they will often try to use fake ID to do so,and try going to a real studio instead of someone’s house. Usually shops can tell when they’re presented a fake ID, but a very well made one can occasionally slip through. Especially a real ID that belongs to someone who looks similar to the kid…

Parents should know that professional studios are not pleased about this; parents should always attempt to contact the studio where their child claims to have received a tattoo. Studios often are required by law to keep consent forms for up to two years, and can usually provide a copy of the false identification that was used. This is not negligence by the studio, but fraud by the minor. In some states the studio can prosecute the minor and their parent. Parents should make sure that their teenagers have no access to their wallets and purses.

When a teenager is nearing eighteen and the age of consent, parents should do research with them into studios they may frequent or patronize. It may be reassuring for parents to know that the studio is clean and reputable. Minors are often not welcome in tattoo studios without a parent; this can be a good opportunity for parents to ensure that if their teenager decides to get tattooed they are at least in a situation that is not unsafe or unhealthy.

Every professional tattoo shop should have an autoclave which is regularly spore tested, disposable latex or nitrile gloves should be used, and all workers there have proper health and safety training. Go with your kid, ask questions. We’re happy to explain all this stuff to you. We want all of our clients to be safe.

Bringing your teenager with you to investigate their options may also discourage them from performing unsafe tattoos on themselves at home, and may even dissuade them from getting a rebellion-motivated tattoo at all. After all, if parents approve, many teens won’t participate.

And if they decide to get one anyway, you will know where they’re going, and that they won’t be risking their health for it.

 

(originally published here)

Posted in clients, deep thoughts, dos and donts, health and safety, oregon tattoo artists, questions, surviving your first tattoo, tat zap wizard, Tattoo, tattooing, you | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How you can help me. and other medical nonsense!

Posted by Anj Marth on 07/12/2014

If you follow my site or know me personally, you know I have been through some medical hell the past ten months or so.

TMI after the break.

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Posted in art, deep thoughts, drawing, geek, health and safety, interview with the artist, journal, original drawings, personal, true stories, you | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

relax don’t do it

Posted by Anj Marth on 07/07/2014

Originally published 10/26/2007

 

working female tattoo artist
As a tattoo artist for many years, I’ve seen many people who are interested in learning the trade. I’ve also seen many make the mistake of trying to take a shortcut to becoming a tattoo artist at home, or as a hobby.

If you are planning to tattoo “for fun” or as a hobby, you should know that in most states this is illegal. The biggest, and most serious reason, is for the health and safety of your (potential) clients. Tattooing in a bacteria-ridden space, with unsterilized equipment, or even worse, non-disposable equipment, is extremely risky.

The risks associated with home tattooing start with minor Staph infections and end with septicemia (which can be fatal) and transmission of serious, life-threatening viruses. Also, using your home as a tattoo studio puts you and your family at extreme risk of infections and diseases. Simply put, this is not safe, and is most likely against the law.

When you decide to learn tattooing it’s best to be careful. There are unscrupulous people who will try to take advantage of your interest, and knowing the usual steps taken to become a tattoo artist can help you avoid them.

Having an interest in tattooing and being able to draw, while necessary, are not the only things you’ll need. You’ll also require a lot of dedication, patience, and sociability. It is hard to become a tattoo artist. A typical apprenticeship is tiring, demanding, and difficult. The process of apprenticeship is designed to weed out those who are not capable of dealing with the stress of the job, and those who are not patient enough to cope with its demands.

hourglass and candle tattooIf you apprentice, you will be granted the respect of your peers, and have more access to knowledge, equipment, and skills than if you try to muddle through (dangerously) on your own.

Artists the try to learn on their own do, rarely, become respected in the field- but this takes decades of hard work, rather than a few years.

Most will never achieve acceptance if they have not apprenticed properly.

If you’re the typical starving artist, tattooing can look very lucrative compared to where you’re at right now, but it’s not really a craft you can learn on your own (despite what those unscrupulous people might say).

If you can’t be patient and persistent, you won’t be a good tattooist anyway.

Dealing with clients is much more difficult than learning to tattoo, and without the barriers and obstacles to learning there would be no way to ensure the temperament of potential tattooists.

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Posted in ethics, health and safety, learning, tattooing | 2 Comments »

burning my face off

Posted by Anj Marth on 12/23/2013

full (16)I love fire. I was afraid of it as a child, but as I grew older and began to challenge myself to other new and frightening experiences, I decided it was time to meet flame and make a connection with it.

A few years ago, in the middle of a bad relationship, I watched my lover breathe a huge fireball. In a very unsafe and exaggerated manner. But Oh! it was beautiful, billowing out of his mouth. I was hooked. I learned through friends who had been doing it more carefully-to look up into the sky and send the breath with the flame, to sputter just right so as not to splatter, to use the right fluids…to wet down my hair and tie it back, to clear the area first…all the standard precautions. I began to breathe fire often, at most occasions, dancing under fireballs at parties, on the beach, even alone, in the desert, on a solitary road trip. Just to see it dancing. Just to feel the glare on my face.

I love fire.

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Posted in brag, health and safety, interview with the artist, journal, oregon living, personal, pictures, questions, true stories | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

I am crazy wild this minute- excerpt from essay on the experience of mental illness, by Lara Jefferson, 1948

Posted by Anj Marth on 11/15/2013

This, and the previous excerpt I posted, are small selections from the book “The Inner World of Mental Illness”, published by Harper & Row in 1964. It’s one of my favorite books, written by a variety of people in very different circumstances and with very different afflictions; all the stories have the same undertone of fear, grieving, and pragmatism.

I’ve read this book to shreds, literally.

Most of the chapters in it are excerpts from longer books written by the mentally ill, but some are merely short pieces, collected by doctors or nurses. I’ll post more of these if enough of you want more of them.

The book includes a variety of mental illnesses, so if you’d like an excerpt dealing with some other disorder, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best.

This excerpt is from “I am crazy wild this minute”, written by Lara Jefferson in the 40s. It was written on scrap paper and wrapping paper in a state hospital.

When her writing was discovered by staff, she was given a typewriter and encouraged to continue. Hospitals at that time were much more chaotic, and psychosis was not treated with as much compassion or medical understanding as it is today.

Had I been born in the age and time when the world dealt in a straightforward manner with misfits as could not meet the requirements of living, I would not have been much of a problem to my contemporaries. They would have said that I was “Possessed of the Devil” and promptly stoned me to death- or else disposed of me in some other equally effective manner.

I know I cannot think straight- but the conclusions I arrive at are very convincing to me and I still think the whole system is a regular Hades itself. …

I cannot conduct myself as the rules set forth because something has broken loose within me and I am insane- and differ from these others to the extent that I still have sense enough to know it; which is a mark of spectacular intelligence- so they tell me.

Here I sit- mad as the hatter- with nothing to do but either become madder and madder- or else recover enough of my sanity to be allowed to go back to the life which drove me mad.

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Posted in authors, deep thoughts, health and safety, interview with the artist, personal, pictures, posts with links in them, true stories | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

 
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