why that tattoo pain chart is meaningless.

I’m sure most of you have seen this image, or a similar one,  floating around the internet by now:
10557382_10152123344372126_495203462800773378_n

I’d like to point out that these images aren’t really telling you the whole story. As I’ve posted about before, several times, placement is only one of many variables that will make a tattoo hurt more or less. I’ll begin here just by saying- your frame of mind, your health, and your general attitude about the tattoo matter more than anything. Tattoos, generally speaking, don’t hurt very much. If you have had waxing done, if you’ve ever broken a bone, if you’ve ever had road rash or a bad cut…you’ve been through worse than a tattoo. You can do this. It’s on the level of…a beesting, a cat scratch, an annoyance.

But let’s take this chart for a minute, at face value- and just talk about areas where tattoos may hurt more or less.

The first thing to think about is your own personal sensitivities. Are you ticklish? Do you have previous injuries (even long-healed ones) in an area? Do feet freak you out? If you have any kind of area-specific thing going on in your mind or body, that’s going to affect how you feel while getting tattooed.

Then, there’s the idea that joints and areas with thin skin will hurt more. This isn’t necessarily the case. A tattoo on the side of the neck seems like it should be the worst thing ever, by these rules. Hell, in the image it’s a red zone! But in the image the center of the neck, the throat, is the red zone too- and those two areas feel very different. See, the only areas where you really have a big cluster of extra nerves are the

  • hands
  • face
  • genitals
  • solar plexus
  • throat
  • nipples

Everywhere else on your body is pretty much the same, as far as the sensitivity of the skin itself. Now some areas also have bone or underlying structures without much padding of muscle or fat. For some people, these areas are EASIER, for others, HARDER to get tattooed. It all depends on what kind of pain you dislike the most. If a deep throbbing or any kind f pressure just slays you, then areas without bony structures are going to hurt more- areas like

  • stomach
  • sides (below the ribs)
  • side of the neck
  • inner arm and armpit
  • inner thigh

if, for you, a stingy sensation is the worst thing, but you don’t mind pressure very much, you’re going to have a hard time with areas that have muscle right under the skin. Areas such as

  • lower back
  • top of shoulder
  • deltoid/front of arm
  • tops of thighs
  • calves
  • buttocks

Now if you don’t mind stingy feelings, and throbbing and pressure are no big deal, but you don’t like the feeling of papercuts or slices or the like, you may dislike bony areas the most. It seems to me that most people feel this way. This means that to at least some degree, the image has a few areas properly labeled for someone like that. The areas that would hurt would be:

  • ankles
  • hands/wrists
  • feet
  • collarbones
  • center of chest
  • shoulderblades
  • spine near center of back
  • ribs
  • kneecaps/elbows

Your body’s size and shape and composition matters too. If you have a lot of fat deposits, your hips may not be such a bad spot. But areas underneath rolls might hurt more, as they’re less exposed to sensation and touch in general. If you’re big and muscular, areas with tightly-stretched skin might hurt more- meaning a calf, one of the places the chart says is EASY, would be more painful to you. If you are scrawny and bony, areas with visible tendons may be the worst.

All of this talk of pain is so variable that you almost can’t pin it down and make any sort of universal chart.

Now let’s talk about where this dumb and inaccurate chart actually came from.

 

Something you can do, though, is make a chart showing areas that are the hardest for the artist to work on. This chart looks almost exactly like that “pain” chart, and versions of it used to be used in shops to show which areas would cost more than others for the same design. I have a sneaking suspicion that some client, at some point, saw this pricing chart and assumed we charged more for “hurty stuff”. This is not the case.

In fact, in some shops, the pricing system was worked out by square inch and placement, not by time. In the Before Times many shops would have all the available designs and flash up on the walls with prices attached. Nearby would be a chart exactly like the “pain” chart, saying, “areas in red cost $20 more, areas in blue $50 more” or something to that effect. This was not done because of how much those areas hurt the client- it was done because those areas are harder for us to tattoo.

acetate with square inches marked off.

acetate with square inches marked off.

So you lay that clear sheet with the inches marked on it, over the tattoo design. Any square containing ANYTHING counts. You have your minimum price, then you add however much per inch. So a shop with a $50 minimum, 20 per inch, a tattoo that is 2″ costs 90 bucks, base price for the easy-to-tattoo zones. Now you go to the chart. You want it on your wrist? Price goes up by ten bucks. You want it on your ribs? Price goes up by thirty bucks. And so on…This is one of the old ways of pricing tattoos, and strangely enough it often works out almost exactly what a tattoo would cost hourly. Those expensive areas just take longer so the time is extended anyway. Also, some areas are risky to us so they cost more.

If I am working on an area that is difficult to reach, my chance of a needle stick goes up. Slippery, sweaty areas are especially scary this way. If I’m working on an area where the skin shifts in response to ANY movement by the client (like ribs and center chest, for example) then I’m going to have to work harder to pull a straight line, to get things even and perfect. This extra work translated to extra pay, based on a chart like this one.

It had and has nothing to do with how you, the client, feel during the tattoo. The original of this color body chart is simply a  pricing guide for tattooers, not anything to do with what you will feel during a tattoo.

 

handy pricing chart used in some older studios.

handy pricing chart used in some older studios.

If I were to make a chart about the actual pain? I’d simply put a blank body form and have people print it out and color it in.
Put red any place where you are sensitive to tickling or have any kind of weird feeling about being touched. Also any place that folds over, where the skin touches itself and is rarely exposed to air or touch.
Put blue on your genitals, hands, and face- AND on any area that has a previous injury, even a healed one.
Put yellow on any place that is often exposed to touch and friction, that has a lot of exposure to air and sun.
Put green everywhere else.

This is your personal, very own pain chart. Everyone will have a different one. Unlike the tattoo artist’s perspective, where all armpits are pretty much the same to work on, the perspective as a client will be totally individual and unique.

Here’s a few stock images you can color in.

fat-slim-woman-white-background-30620793 Posture Template 1woman

 

 

Oh yeah- you’ve probably seen this garbage floating around as well. It’s crap, and it’s demeaning to you guys who are my clients, and I hate this kind of shit. Strangely enough I don’t have too many clients who pay no taxes or go to prison. There’s some slut-shaming in there too. What a load of crap.

tattoo-locations

 

(for a great article about pain and tattooing in general, my friend Deb wrote a great one here)
(for a chart to figure out how much of yourself is tattooed, you can look at matt gone’s awesome post about this here.)

the trouble with white.

in the process of setting up for a white ink tattoo.

in the process of setting up for a white ink tattoo.

White ink on the hands.
Plenty of tattooers won’t even do this. For good reason, too! White ink does not heal white. It heals slightly lighter than the skin tone, and often unevenly. It ends up looking a bit like a pale scar, nearly invisible.

Most tattoo artists who will do tattoos in white-ink-only, will not guarantee it, do a free touchup, after it heals. It’s acknowledged that it will not look right when it heals. There’s a very, very rare person for whom it heals and looks ok- but that person is truly rare. I’ve only ever met one, in 16 years of using white alone in tattoos.

All that said, I will do white-ink-only tattoos. And I’ll even do one free touchup, just like with any other tattoo. BUT, I try to make it really clear that it’ll never heal just right, never look perfect. That it’s going to fade into a pale hint of a tattoo, like a scar. Barely there, and that this is likely to happen unevenly, too.

Here are two matching tattoos, freshly tattooed with white-ink-only.

(more…)

somewhere there's a feather

Warning to people using this as an informational resource: I am not a lawyer. I curse a lot. Follow the links in the text to find official sources and research, rather than relying on my say-so.
he flew into my house through an open window, I caught him and let him go. he's a flycatcher.

he flew into my house through an open window, I caught him and let him go. he’s a flycatcher. I didn’t keep any pieces of him, except the poops he left behind on my counter.

There’s this law, see. Every time I bring it up, people get salty about it. Hell, sometimes I get salty about it when people bring it up. But I’m bringing it up anyway.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations.

The MBTA does not apply to: (1) Nonnative species introduced into the United States or its territories by means of intentional or unintentional human assistance…, or nonnative, human-introduced species that belong to families or groups not covered by the Canadian, Mexican, or Russian Conventions.

(If you have found a feather, there are resources at the very end of this post to help you figure out what bird it’s from, and if you can keep it or not. Click ‘read more’ then scroll down.)

song thrush

seriously, these guys kept coming in. that place had big windows, they really liked shitting all over my house and refusing to fly back out. this is a female, maybe the special friend of the other bird. she also left some potentially-illegal feces behind.

Definitely-legal feathers come from European Starlings, House Sparrows, Rock Pigeons, Eurasian Collared Doves, AND basically any bird you are legally allowed to hunt (meaning, YOU have a hunting license for it) or farm/have as a pet legally- these game and domestic birds include non-native parrots, wild turkey, pheasant, some geese, peacocks, some grouse, domestic chickens, domestic ducks, domestic geese, domestic quail, and domestic turkey.

(side note: all the feathers used in my work are from legal species and sources; I paint and stain legal feathers to resemble rare/illegal ones, and you can too, and if you do I will keep liking you and your art)

There’s a damn good reason for these laws. I know that you’re thinking, “but I’m not out harvesting cormorants, smashing baby sparrows, and yanking the tails of owls! I found it on the ground, how could it possibly harm anyone for me to just have it in my own house?”

fox skull mount

chicken feathers behind a fox skull. these look rad and they’re legal and easy to obtain.

It’s harmful because people actually do kill these birds to get their feathers, and they can and do say the same fucking thing when they get caught. In order to keep poachers from saying they “found” feathers that they actually killed to get, the law simply won’t allow anyone to have them at all. This includes you, and me, and includes ‘private collections’ and ‘I won’t sell it I just want it for my shrine’. I won’t even get started on people who are selling protected birds’ feathers (online or off) because it makes me too frothy and I want this article to make sense.It used to be that poachers could claim they had ‘found feathers’, and didn’t actually kill the birds. This law ensures that this doesn’t happen. There are exceptions and loopholes, of course, but you’ll need paperwork to fit into them.

I understand that it feels like the Fun Police have arrived when someone brings up the fact that you’re endangering birds by keeping those crow feathers in your hat. Hell, I know that before I got super involved in this kind of art I pretty much felt the same way. It wasn’t until I did a lot more reading and a lot more thinking that I really got it. I don’t mean to prevent you from making cool stuff. I truly understand, and I also dislike the arrival of the Fun Police in general. But.

BUT. But there’s this law, see. And if you’re breaking it, you’re not being an Ethical Shaman-type Person. So if you wish to represent yourself as a Magical Unicorn Dancer of Good Intentions and The Like, read on. (Evil Bastards of Doom, feel free to skip ahead to the “crow” or “canada goose” sections, or just go squash a european starling.)

 

somewhere there’s a feather

Warning to people using this as an informational resource: I am not a lawyer. I curse a lot. Follow the links in the text to find official sources and research, rather than relying on my say-so.
he flew into my house through an open window, I caught him and let him go. he's a flycatcher.

he flew into my house through an open window, I caught him and let him go. he’s a flycatcher. I didn’t keep any pieces of him, except the poops he left behind on my counter.

There’s this law, see. Every time I bring it up, people get salty about it. Hell, sometimes I get salty about it when people bring it up. But I’m bringing it up anyway.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations.

The MBTA does not apply to: (1) Nonnative species introduced into the United States or its territories by means of intentional or unintentional human assistance…, or nonnative, human-introduced species that belong to families or groups not covered by the Canadian, Mexican, or Russian Conventions.

(If you have found a feather, there are resources at the very end of this post to help you figure out what bird it’s from, and if you can keep it or not. Click ‘read more’ then scroll down.)

song thrush

seriously, these guys kept coming in. that place had big windows, they really liked shitting all over my house and refusing to fly back out. this is a female, maybe the special friend of the other bird. she also left some potentially-illegal feces behind.

Definitely-legal feathers come from European Starlings, House Sparrows, Rock Pigeons, Eurasian Collared Doves, AND basically any bird you are legally allowed to hunt (meaning, YOU have a hunting license for it) or farm/have as a pet legally- these game and domestic birds include non-native parrots, wild turkey, pheasant, some geese, peacocks, some grouse, domestic chickens, domestic ducks, domestic geese, domestic quail, and domestic turkey.

(side note: all the feathers used in my work are from legal species and sources; I paint and stain legal feathers to resemble rare/illegal ones, and you can too, and if you do I will keep liking you and your art)

There’s a damn good reason for these laws. I know that you’re thinking, “but I’m not out harvesting cormorants, smashing baby sparrows, and yanking the tails of owls! I found it on the ground, how could it possibly harm anyone for me to just have it in my own house?”

fox skull mount

chicken feathers behind a fox skull. these look rad and they’re legal and easy to obtain.

It’s harmful because people actually do kill these birds to get their feathers, and they can and do say the same fucking thing when they get caught. In order to keep poachers from saying they “found” feathers that they actually killed to get, the law simply won’t allow anyone to have them at all. This includes you, and me, and includes ‘private collections’ and ‘I won’t sell it I just want it for my shrine’. I won’t even get started on people who are selling protected birds’ feathers (online or off) because it makes me too frothy and I want this article to make sense.It used to be that poachers could claim they had ‘found feathers’, and didn’t actually kill the birds. This law ensures that this doesn’t happen. There are exceptions and loopholes, of course, but you’ll need paperwork to fit into them.

I understand that it feels like the Fun Police have arrived when someone brings up the fact that you’re endangering birds by keeping those crow feathers in your hat. Hell, I know that before I got super involved in this kind of art I pretty much felt the same way. It wasn’t until I did a lot more reading and a lot more thinking that I really got it. I don’t mean to prevent you from making cool stuff. I truly understand, and I also dislike the arrival of the Fun Police in general. But.

BUT. But there’s this law, see. And if you’re breaking it, you’re not being an Ethical Shaman-type Person. So if you wish to represent yourself as a Magical Unicorn Dancer of Good Intentions and The Like, read on. (Evil Bastards of Doom, feel free to skip ahead to the “crow” or “canada goose” sections, or just go squash a european starling.)

 

weird ways people have found this site, and their quick questions.

2008, work gear.

2008, work gear.

It’s time for the yearly list of weird searches that have brought people here, and questions that I can answer in a few words.
I can see search terms that people have used to find my site so every year I trawl through them and find the ones that make me giggle- or the ones that are simple questions I can answer. This year was a good year for this.

Dying is easy, life is hard

if you don’t like spoilers or are too fragile don’t read any further and avoid the comments.

ethel the actress

this dog was not harmed in the making of this death scene

I usually only watch horror films, spiced with the occasional psychological thriller,sci-fi indy film, or action flick. So recently when someone asked me what my favorite death scene was, from a movie, I first piped up with an obvious one from one of my favorite horror movies.

“No,” she said. “I mean for the impact it had on you. Not for the plot to advance.”
I had to think hard. I mean, very hard. There are so many deaths in the movies I watch, you see, and yet most of them are plot devices, not seriously meaningful beyond that. Not the kind of thing that affects me, really. I mean, even when I watch emotional movies, I don’t get very emotional, and I’ve never cried during a movie (books, yes. movies? no.)

So after a few days of deep thought, I’ve made a list. There are a lot of spoilers in it, and if you don’t like spoilers or are too fragile to handle knowing the end of something don’t read any further and avoid the comments. I’m serious, I’ll just delete comments complaining about spoilers. 

(more…)

15 books that will change the way you tattoo (for the better)

owlbooksThere are a lot of great books on art out there, and I’m bound to miss a lot in my list. These are just books I have found incredibly helpful in my work, and which I refer to often.

These are not books of reference images (although I did come up in the time before google images took over, and every shop had its own reference library on site…I still can’t part with all those books!)

These are, instead, books about art in general, about art techniques, or about being an artist that I think apply very well to tattooing. If you have favorites that I do not list, please add a comment and link me to them! I read voraciously and love to find new sources of knowledge.

At least a few of these are free on kindle/ebooks, most are cheap, one or two are pricey, all are available and not rare.

 

An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.
To say to the painter that Nature is to be taken as she is, is to say to the player that he may sit on the piano.
~J. M. Whistler

(more…)

tattooing on darker, or uneven, skin tones

henna style
I’ve been tattooing for a long time and I’ve worked on every conceivable shade of human skin. I’ve noticed that the most important thing isn’t usually how dark or light someone is (although that matters when you discuss tonal value and contrast) but the hue of a person, the underlying warmth or coolness of their skin.

Skin color is created by melanin, a pigment found in the upper layer of the epidermis. Tattoos lie beneath this layer, in the area between the epidermis and dermis. This placement of the ink prevents it from being shed with dead cells, by the top layer, and by being dispersed into the capillaries, in the bottom layer.

Since the ink itself lies beneath the epidermal melanin, looking at a tattoo is like looking through a tinted window. Except for albinos, everyone on earth has melanin in this skin layer. Some will have a ruddy skin tone, some a cold tone to their skin. Some will be dark, some light. Some freckled, and some smoothly pigmented.

Taking all of this into account when designing a tattoo is important. Tattoo ink is not opaque, but translucent, so you see through one tinted window, then through the ink itself. More than one factor has to be taken into account to make a great tattoo on uneven or darker skin tones.

the horror movie list.

halloween tattoomy list of favorites… (new additions at the end)

the woman – domestic violence, rape, and revenge horror

possession (the one from the 80s) – monsters, divorces, and doppelgangers

altered – aliens and a hermit guy, innawoods

resolution – drug addiction, atmosphere, original premise, creepy spying, innawoods

slither – aliens, bad relationships, marriage, monsters

relic – bad science, monsters, sexy beasts

the seasoning house – brutality, warfare, rape, oppression, and revenge

from beyond – science, monsters, villianous experimentations

pontypool – language, viral plagues, zombies of a sort, bad day at the office

the grey – animal attacks, betrayal, isolation, survival horror, innawoods

the thing (80s) – brilliant. isolation, distrust, betrayal, aliens.

return of the living dead (any of the first three) – zombies that can speak.

dead end – dark humor, great acting, excellent dialogue, ghosts, innawoods

teeth – abstinence-only sex ed, incest, revenge.

trick r treat – werewolves, murderers, ghosts, pumpkins.

pieces – slasher film with lots of suspense moments.

pioughkeepsie tapes (if you’re a fan of true crime documentaries, you’ll love it)

s&man – mockumentary, self-referential to the horror genre and “extreme” video.

V/H/S – anthology film, harpies, ghosts, video nasties.

abcs of death – anthology, some artsy, some feminist, some violence, zombies.

the masters of horror series. varies

memories of a murder – serial killers, korean horror.

audition – best bad guy ever, gory

funny games – self-aware horror that breaks fourth wall
cabin in the woods – same

the pact – murders, ghosts, incest, abuse.

the host – monsters, claustrophobia

the frighteners – ghosts, bad cgi, JEFFREY COMBS’s BODY IS AN INSTRUMENT OF PAIN

the road (not the one with viggo in it. the foreign one)- ghost road

the shrine – demons, religions, eastern european fear

severance – killers, history, warfare, strife, business, bad days at the office, innawoods

andromeda strain – viral plagues, government fuckups

the mist – monsters, religious nuttery, perfect ending

the shining – domestic abuse, ghosts, evil places, creepy kids

the descent – claustrophobia, monsters, betrayal, great characters/acting, innawoods

anamorph – crime thriller, dark arts, murder

the stuff – consumerism, monsters, plagues, cassandra complexes, industrial espionage

troll – (NOT TROLL 2!) – naked julia louis-dreyfus, sonny bono, monsters, fairy badness, creepy kids

nightwatch – fate, monsters, secret worlds, russian behavior

primal – aussie mayhem, monsters, claustrophobia, isolation, innawoods horror

dogtooth – incest, abuse, control issues, isolation

barton fink – isolation, art horror, serial killers, mayhem, the life of the mind

call of cthulu – silent horror, monsters, elder gods, madness

dead man – existential horror, art horror, isolation, innawoods, ghosts

ravenous – cannibals, innawoods, isolation

american werewolf in london – monsters.

dog soldiers – monsters, betrayal, war games

may – social anxiety, medical weirdness, frankensteining

they live – a documentary

the changeling – possessed wheelchair, kid ghosts, perfect soundtrack

contracted – sexual repression, rape, body horror, gay rights being impeded

 

REAL THINGS THAT HAPPENED:

cropsey, dark days, the dust bowl (ken burns), tell me and I will forget, kinjongilia, reel injun, titicut follies, just melvin just evil, child of rage, a place for pedophiles, children underground, this entire series

the 6 worst pieces of promotion advice for artists, and the real solutions.

After countless suggestions of sites to use for promotion, I’m starting to realize that several things do not help at all:

1. Selling on more sites, adding more print-on-demand stores, or more marketing profiles.

fff

When you ask most people “how should I promote my art?” you will often get well-meaning people, telling you “you should sell at *printsite*!” or “are you on *marketsy* site yet?” or even “maybe you should sell them on *auctionworld*!”  “Do you have a *deviantshit* profile???” It’s as if they purposely misunderstood your question! “But I already sell on *somesite*!” You protest. “I already have a *americanartprints* profile, do I really need to be on *shirthoarders* too?”
You know, and I know, that you already ARE selling your work on a site like these. There is already at least one site out there with your work on it, for sale, clearly marked prices and all. What you need isn’t TEN MORE OF THOSE, you need PEOPLE TO GO TO THE ONES YOU ALREADY HAVE, and spend their money on your work. Yet asking how to do this never gets that kind of response! This is because most people have one or two sites they have heard of, vaguely, or bought something from once, and so they assume- if you are asking how to promote, it’s because you don’t even know where to list shit.

Most people aren’t trying to sell art. They’re buying it. So yeah- if ten people suggest *randomprintplace*, you should check it out, maybe. Because you already know ten people shop there. But be wary of paying for a bunch of shops or profiles on these sites, because they usually don’t offer much return. (If you DO need to know which sites to sell on, you’re not ready to promote the art yet. concentrate first on listing it, a lot of it, all in one place. I like redbubble for print-on-demand and squareup market for direct sales of originals. )

2. Writing in-depth or posting art directly on social media sites instead of your own.

nooo

I keep my favorites to the left.

Let me guess- you post your work to facebook, twitter, tumblr, instagram, googleplus, wanelo, weheartit, pinterest, linkedin, and maybe even a few dozen other places like this. You’re exhausted. You put off making stuff because you spend way too much time in an endless round of liking and sharing and pinning and chatting with people who never buy a damn thing. Then you get caught up in talking to friends and family, and somehow the day is gone and you actually didn’t do anything you could call “work”. I know. OH TRUST ME I KNOW. Then you go look at your own site, your own blog on your own domain and there’s only like two views. Ghost town. Well, of course it’s a ghost town! You don’t live there, you live in social networks, and you don’t invite anyone there- you talk to them on facebook!

How many people on there do you NOT know? How many people on there BUY things from you that way? I know I get sales to previous clients or friends on these sites sometimes, so it’s tempting to post there a lot, and spend time interacting, and all that…and call that “promotion”. But it’s not, really. It’s not work-related, it’s not promoting, if you do it that way. It’s either time spent with friends hanging out, or you’re just creating content for free so someone else can make money off of your work.
How social sites work, you see, is that people who make things and write stuff, they post these things on that site. That site then slaps ads everywhere and rolls in the dough. If they find out they can charge you to post your work too, they will. They’ll take the ad money YOU and YOUR WORK attracted, and ALSO charge you too. Without your work and your writing and your time spent there, THEY DO NOT MAKE MONEY FROM ADS or datasharing or…or any money AT ALL. YOU ARE PAYING THEM TO GET PAID. There are solutions to this, which will be in the next section (if you click through)

(more…)

« Newer -- Older »

This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

Please upgrade today!