How risky is it to get tattooed?

DON'T GET TATTOOED IN SOMEONE'S BASEMENT

DON’T GET TATTOOED IN SOMEONE’S BASEMENT

Tattoos done in a home, in prison, or in an unlicensed facility carry grave health risks. This article is about the health risks associated with being tattooed in a clean, licensed, and proper tattoo facility- NOT about home tattoos or jail tattoos. Those are TOO DAMN RISKY FOR ME TO EVEN TALK ABOUT.

In some states, tattoo artists and studios are regulated by the state and have to meet health requirements. In some states this goes so far as to test artists for various communicable diseases. In others, it merely requires training in the control of bloodborne pathogens and sterile, disposable equipment. Studios will usually not tattoo anyone who is intoxicated on any substance, or who is under the age of 18. Most states have laws pertaining to this, and most studios will turn away anyone who is incapable of legally signing a consent form.

The ten reasons people get tattoos.

time to make the donuts

time to make the donuts

Tattoos do have a purpose, although to some it may seem they are merely frivolous decoration, or a ploy for attention.

After giving it some thought, I’ve realized there are ten main reasons people come in to get tattooed. I personally have been tattooed for all of the reasons listed here, and more.

(more…)

What are your reasons for getting tattooed?

anji-marth-tattoos-and-art-70Tattoos do have a purpose, although to some it may seem they are merely frivolous decoration, or a ploy for attention.

In indigenous cultures, tattoos are used to mark rank or status. In the west in modern times, this still holds true for many people. Getting a child’s name or portrait marks the wearer’s status as a parent, for example. Some use tattoos to show their membership in a group such as a fraternity or gang, and others wear them as status symbols to express their positive personal qualities, such as wealth or the freedom to look as they please.

Tattoos in the west in previous decades carried a heavy stugma of social unacceptability, and this has contributed to the use of tattoos to mark “outsider” status in some groups. Bikers, gang members, and prisoners may get tattooed as a badge of pride in their outsider status.

Tattoos can also mark a momentous occasion for the wearer. The birth of a child, the beginning or end of a relationship, or the attainment of some goal are all personal milestones that some choose to remember with a tattoo.

full-3Some use a tattoo to express their political or religious feelings. Many young Christians get crosses and fish tattooed on them as reminders of their moral beliefs, and many people get symbols of their personal opinions tattooed on them.

Others use the tattoo to commemorate the life of a loved one who has died. These are currently popular due to some television shows’ use of similar stories.

Yet other people will get tattooed for superstitious reasons. Sailors even today will get a pig tattooed on one foot, and a chicken on the other, to prevent drowning. Many also get tattoos of talismans or personal symbols of good luck. Horseshoes are always popular.

2a62883f6a5facde8cd4ba3b8f98258b-d4d2ojnBy far the most common reason to get tattooed is to express a hidden aspect of the wearer’s personality. The majority of people I’ve tattooed over the last ten years have stated that this was the reason they decided to get tattooed. For some this is as simple as getting a single word in english, or in another language, such as “truth” or “love”. For others, it can involve a large and extensive custom drawing that contains many personal symbols or images that express the personality of the wearer.

Another purpose of tattooing is simple decoration. Some people love the way tattoos look, and get abstract designs intended to emphasize or beautify various body parts. Some use a decorative tattoo to hide flaws such as scars, stretch marks, or older, less-attractive tattoos.

In the ten years I have been tattooing people, out of thousands of clients, I have only ever encountered two or three that claimed to get tattooed because they liked the sensation. Usually the pain is a sacrifice people are willing to make in order to accomplish the purpose of the tattoo.

 

How to choose a tattoo design when you're completely clueless

10403044_10152164843797712_1077486435763939552_nIt can be hard to commit to one image that will be permanent. Some people just have too many ideas! Here are some ways you can decide what to get tattooed…Subject, style, and placement.

  • Find an image or subject that you like. If you don’t have any very specific ideas or you can’t find something you want to commit to permanently, abstract art is always an option. Simple, flowing shapes work very well on the human form, hence the popularity of “tribal” tattoos. You can even be as vague as wanting a shape, or a curve tattooed on you. “Abstract” means just that- there is no subject matter, and the meaning is obscured. This is a good choice if you’re indecisive or change your opinions from time to time.
  • Placement is important. Do you want to be able to see your tattoo? Then get it on the front half of your body. Would you like to be able to easily hide it? Get it on the thigh, or back, or calf (if you can wear knee socks). Do you want it to be a teaser? Get it so that part of it extends beyond the sleeve of your t-shirt from your upper arm. The easiest paces to get work done, and the best for long-term wear and tear, are the outside of the calf and thigh, the inside of the forearm, the outside of the upper arm, and the upper back. The most important thing though? Is where YOU want to see the tattoo. The pain only lasts a short time, but you will  be looking at the tattoo itself forever.
  • Abstract art works well too because you can invent new meaning or significance for the tattoo as you get older. Getting something that is pure decoration can save you the trouble of trying to commit to one point of view or meaning. Most tattoo artists enjoy doing some abstract work; just be sure the artist you choose works in the style you enjoy seeing. (more on this below!)
  • When seeking subject matter, keep an open mind. Look at tattoo magazines and imagine yourself as the people in the pictures. What would feel right for you? What can you relate to? Look at photographs and paintings that aren’t tattoo-related and imagine them on your skin, instead of on paper or canvas. Would it look right to you? If you have hobbies, think about whether there are objects or images that express them. If you have inside jokes with friends or loved ones, think of ways to express them with images. Getting matching images is usually not a jinx on a relationship the way getting a tattoo of someone’s name can be. Does your child have a favorite toy, or a nickname? Does your wife have a favorite flower? You can get her a bouquet, or memorialize this time in your child’s life, by tattooing it on you.
  • If it’s a tattoo for a relative, “Mom” or “Pop”, think about what kind of images they enjoy, and what their personality is like. Memorial tattoos and relationship tattoos, just like gifts, mean more if they are personal to the receiver.
  • Don’t feel hedged in to what you have already seen as a tattoo. The tattoo industry has expanded in technique and equipment rapidly in the last ten years or so, and besides being safer (with disposable equipment and such) the artistic possibilities are close to endless.  While not every design can be applied as-is, usually a few modifications can make it possible to do just about anything on skin. Look to all forms of art and photography for ideas and styles to apply to your tattoo.
  • Try to find your inspiration in your own taste and interests. If you like art nouveau vases, use them as reference. If you like wild animals, find some photographs of animals you find meaningful. Or simply look for shapes, motifs, and colors that you like.

(more…)

How to choose a tattoo design when you’re completely clueless


10403044_10152164843797712_1077486435763939552_n
It can be hard to commit to one image that will be permanent. Some people just have too many ideas! Here are some ways you can decide what to get tattooed…Subject, style, and placement.

  • Find an image or subject that you like. If you don’t have any very specific ideas or you can’t find something you want to commit to permanently, abstract art is always an option. Simple, flowing shapes work very well on the human form, hence the popularity of “tribal” tattoos. You can even be as vague as wanting a shape, or a curve tattooed on you. “Abstract” means just that- there is no subject matter, and the meaning is obscured. This is a good choice if you’re indecisive or change your opinions from time to time.
  • Placement is important. Do you want to be able to see your tattoo? Then get it on the front half of your body. Would you like to be able to easily hide it? Get it on the thigh, or back, or calf (if you can wear knee socks). Do you want it to be a teaser? Get it so that part of it extends beyond the sleeve of your t-shirt from your upper arm. The easiest paces to get work done, and the best for long-term wear and tear, are the outside of the calf and thigh, the inside of the forearm, the outside of the upper arm, and the upper back. The most important thing though? Is where YOU want to see the tattoo. The pain only lasts a short time, but you will  be looking at the tattoo itself forever.
  • Abstract art works well too because you can invent new meaning or significance for the tattoo as you get older. Getting something that is pure decoration can save you the trouble of trying to commit to one point of view or meaning. Most tattoo artists enjoy doing some abstract work; just be sure the artist you choose works in the style you enjoy seeing. (more on this below!)
  • When seeking subject matter, keep an open mind. Look at tattoo magazines and imagine yourself as the people in the pictures. What would feel right for you? What can you relate to? Look at photographs and paintings that aren’t tattoo-related and imagine them on your skin, instead of on paper or canvas. Would it look right to you? If you have hobbies, think about whether there are objects or images that express them. If you have inside jokes with friends or loved ones, think of ways to express them with images. Getting matching images is usually not a jinx on a relationship the way getting a tattoo of someone’s name can be. Does your child have a favorite toy, or a nickname? Does your wife have a favorite flower? You can get her a bouquet, or memorialize this time in your child’s life, by tattooing it on you.
  • If it’s a tattoo for a relative, “Mom” or “Pop”, think about what kind of images they enjoy, and what their personality is like. Memorial tattoos and relationship tattoos, just like gifts, mean more if they are personal to the receiver.
  • Don’t feel hedged in to what you have already seen as a tattoo. The tattoo industry has expanded in technique and equipment rapidly in the last ten years or so, and besides being safer (with disposable equipment and such) the artistic possibilities are close to endless.  While not every design can be applied as-is, usually a few modifications can make it possible to do just about anything on skin. Look to all forms of art and photography for ideas and styles to apply to your tattoo.
  • Try to find your inspiration in your own taste and interests. If you like art nouveau vases, use them as reference. If you like wild animals, find some photographs of animals you find meaningful. Or simply look for shapes, motifs, and colors that you like.

(more…)

Does it hurt to get a tattoo?

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)

How much does a tattoo cost? Here's the answer.

424611_10151055899257712_1661654307_nGood tattoos are not cheap: cheap tattoos are not good.

I’ve been a tattoo artist for many years, and I’ve heard, and said, this phrase too many times to count. Often times people will hunt for the cheapest price, without realizing that the cheapest price is usually a red flag to poor quality or bad health and safety precautions.

When you’re searching for a tattoo, the first thing on your mind should be safety. You’ll want to get tattooed in a professional shop, with the proper licensing from the health department. Your health is more valuable than the few dollars you’d save otherwise. Think about the long-term cost of your tattoo. You will be wearing this art until you die. Compare it to the cost of your shoes-which wear out every year; a tattoo costs less in the long run than any other purchase you can make.

Most tattoo shops in a given city or area will cost about the same rate. There may be a few artists who are booked far in advance, who charge more than this. If you are seeking a large, custom-drawn original tattoo, you’ll probably be better off to pay more, and wait longer, for one of these artists to do your tattoo.

You can count on paying anywhere from one to two hundred dollars per hour of time spent tattooing. Most studios have a minimum price for any tattoo, no matter how small. This price usually takes into account the cost of new, disposable equipment, and time spent sterilizing/disinfecting. On average this can range anywhere from forty to a hundred dollars, depending on the ability of the artist. Some top-name artists have a waiting list of a year or more, and may cost up to a thousand dollars each sitting. New or apprentice artists may cost much less, or be willing to work at a deep discount, in order to gain experience. A word of caution is in order for these young artists, though, as many of them will NOT do the best work for the money. The base hourly rate will vary depending on cost of living where you are at.

Tattoo artists are often paid on commission, earning from forty to eighty percent of your payment. This means that for a fifty dollar tattoo, the artist gets paid less than ten dollars, after equipment costs and commission are subtracted. Artists that own the studio may be paid a higher rate, and artists that are working part time may be paying a flat amount in rent to work in the shop. The majority of artists, however, work on commission or “percentage”, and are independent contractors.

In most cases, a smaller tattoo will be quoted a flat price, while a larger tattoo will be quoted at an hourly rate. Tattoos on hands, feet, and faces will often cost more. The minimum for tattoos from me is $60, but it’s $100 for those areas, because the possibility of a needle stick for me is higher, and because they will most usually need a touchup.

Your best gauge for pricing in your area is to call one or two studios and ask if they have a minimum price, usually an hourly rate will be about double this minimum cost.

31148_403057647711_1851485_nSince most tattoo artists do not have health insurance, workmens’ comp, or any standard paycheck, and since they do not get to keep the majority of the price of the tattoo, tips are always appreciated. Tips can range anywhere from five to twenty percent; depending on the difficulty of the tattoo, your ability to sit still, and the service you felt you received. A large, difficult tattoo that you could not sit still for, during which you wiggled, cried, and made the artist pause, and during which the artist was polite and entertaining to you, represents a situation in which you should tip very well. Industry standard ranges from 5% (for a huge tattoo) to 20% (for smaller pieces).

Most tattoo artists will also be able to suggest alternative placement, rendering, or ways to simplify a tattoo so that the basic idea remains the same, but will cost less overall. If you have a budget, let the artist know and see if they can work within it– often there are ways to do this, and usually the artist can find a way to make your tattoo affordable, within reason.

Your tattoo should be a point of pride, so when you’re shopping for one make sure to look at the artist’s portfolio, photographs of work they have already done, to be sure they can do good work that you think looks right; because what you paid for your tattoo will be forgotten in ten years, but you’ll still be looking at it for years after that.

If you like my work, check out the new horror coloring book I made!

(written by me and originally published at this link)

How much does a tattoo cost? Here’s the answer.

424611_10151055899257712_1661654307_nGood tattoos are not cheap: cheap tattoos are not good.

I’ve been a tattoo artist for many years, and I’ve heard, and said, this phrase too many times to count. Often times people will hunt for the cheapest price, without realizing that the cheapest price is usually a red flag to poor quality or bad health and safety precautions.

When you’re searching for a tattoo, the first thing on your mind should be safety. You’ll want to get tattooed in a professional shop, with the proper licensing from the health department. Your health is more valuable than the few dollars you’d save otherwise. Think about the long-term cost of your tattoo. You will be wearing this art until you die. Compare it to the cost of your shoes-which wear out every year; a tattoo costs less in the long run than any other purchase you can make.

Most tattoo shops in a given city or area will cost about the same rate. There may be a few artists who are booked far in advance, who charge more than this. If you are seeking a large, custom-drawn original tattoo, you’ll probably be better off to pay more, and wait longer, for one of these artists to do your tattoo.

You can count on paying anywhere from one to two hundred dollars per hour of time spent tattooing. Most studios have a minimum price for any tattoo, no matter how small. This price usually takes into account the cost of new, disposable equipment, and time spent sterilizing/disinfecting. On average this can range anywhere from forty to a hundred dollars, depending on the ability of the artist. Some top-name artists have a waiting list of a year or more, and may cost up to a thousand dollars each sitting. New or apprentice artists may cost much less, or be willing to work at a deep discount, in order to gain experience. A word of caution is in order for these young artists, though, as many of them will NOT do the best work for the money. The base hourly rate will vary depending on cost of living where you are at.

Tattoo artists are often paid on commission, earning from forty to eighty percent of your payment. This means that for a fifty dollar tattoo, the artist gets paid less than ten dollars, after equipment costs and commission are subtracted. Artists that own the studio may be paid a higher rate, and artists that are working part time may be paying a flat amount in rent to work in the shop. The majority of artists, however, work on commission or “percentage”, and are independent contractors.

In most cases, a smaller tattoo will be quoted a flat price, while a larger tattoo will be quoted at an hourly rate. Tattoos on hands, feet, and faces will often cost more. The minimum for tattoos from me is $60, but it’s $100 for those areas, because the possibility of a needle stick for me is higher, and because they will most usually need a touchup.

Your best gauge for pricing in your area is to call one or two studios and ask if they have a minimum price, usually an hourly rate will be about double this minimum cost.

31148_403057647711_1851485_nSince most tattoo artists do not have health insurance, workmens’ comp, or any standard paycheck, and since they do not get to keep the majority of the price of the tattoo, tips are always appreciated. Tips can range anywhere from five to twenty percent; depending on the difficulty of the tattoo, your ability to sit still, and the service you felt you received. A large, difficult tattoo that you could not sit still for, during which you wiggled, cried, and made the artist pause, and during which the artist was polite and entertaining to you, represents a situation in which you should tip very well. Industry standard ranges from 5% (for a huge tattoo) to 20% (for smaller pieces).

Most tattoo artists will also be able to suggest alternative placement, rendering, or ways to simplify a tattoo so that the basic idea remains the same, but will cost less overall. If you have a budget, let the artist know and see if they can work within it– often there are ways to do this, and usually the artist can find a way to make your tattoo affordable, within reason.

Your tattoo should be a point of pride, so when you’re shopping for one make sure to look at the artist’s portfolio, photographs of work they have already done, to be sure they can do good work that you think looks right; because what you paid for your tattoo will be forgotten in ten years, but you’ll still be looking at it for years after that.

If you like my work, check out the new horror coloring book I made!

(written by me and originally published at this link)

four essential aftercare tips for fresh tattoos.

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

all healed up!

all healed up!

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.

Don’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)

What to do when your kid wants a tattoo!

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)

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