If you search "tattoos" on Pinterest, thousands upon thousands of pins will appear, many of them beautiful, creative, and workable ideas. Mixed in with those, however, are some really bad ideas, which are brought in to tattoo shops everyday, where we get the unappreciated job of telling clients they just won't work. "But it will work!", the say, "I saw it on Pinterest!", and we silently curse Pinterest for the hundredth time that week. It isn't actually the site's fault, of course, it's just that their format makes posting ideas with no discussion or follow-up far too easy. People see these ideas and fall madly in love with them, unaware of the inevitable results.
Any tattoo is, technically, doable. Yes, you could get a tattoo on your finger; yes, you could get an all white tattoo; yes, you could get tiny script along the arch of your foot. What you must ask yourself is if you're prepared for what it will look like six weeks, months, or years from now. When a tattoo artist tells you your idea won't work or that they won't do it, it isn't because they're lacking talent, it isn't because they fancy themselves the tattoo police, it's because they care about producing high-quality work, and they care about your satisfaction not just that day, but for years to come. Any tattoo shop could just take your money and give you the exact tattoo you asked for, but good shops will risk missing out on a little cash to ensure our clients are well-informed before making any permanent decisions - they will explain that ink spreads a little over time, so script done too small will be unreadable in a few years, and that fingers and parts of your feet won't hold ink the way other body parts will. Of course, what you end up deciding to get is completely up to you, but please, please keep in mind that if your artist has tried to talk you out of it, refused to do it, or insisted you make it bigger or put it somewhere else, it's not because they're a talentless jerk. It's because they care about you, your tattoos, and the artform as a whole.
Below are just a few examples of Pinterest ideas, and their real-world results.
NOTE: NONE OF THESE TATTOOS WERE DONE BY US.
The practice of bamboo tattooing goes back nearly 3000 years, and is thought to have originated in Cambodia. For centuries, it remained an exclusively Asian tradition, but that has begun to change. The rich history, spreading of Eastern religions, and celebrity endorsements have piqued interest in it all over the world in recent years, with a handful of bamboo shops opening in North America and Europe, particularly.
Although the practice has branched out into more modern, “new school” tattooing, its history is steeped in spirituality and symbolism. Originally a tribal animist ritual, it evolved into a Buddhist and Hindu practice called sak yant or yantra in which a master would choose a protective symbol and phrase and tattoo it on a body part of their choice (generally the back). The one receiving the tattoo had little to no say in the process, as it was believed the master could sense what specific symbols the individual needed to protect them. While yantra is still practiced in some parts of Asia today, bamboo tattooing has become a lot more mainstream, allowing customers to choose any design they desire and not requiring tattooists to be monks or magic practitioners.
What has not changed much over the centuries is the process itself. One or more needles are attached to a thin, long piece of bamboo, dipped in ink, and tapped into the skin. While masters can move incredibly quickly, for most, the process is a bit lengthier than machine tattooing. The healing time, however, is greatly reduced compared to machine tattooing, with many clients claiming no scabbing at all, and a healed look after just a few days.
We sat down to talk about ancient tattooing in modern times with our resident bamboo artist, Tamara.
Bamboo tattooing is still rarely heard of in Canada. How did you become interested in it?
“My sister was teaching in Chiang Mai, Thailand, while I was was living in Seoul and I went to visit her. There was a shop nearby with a great artist named Poom who we got some bamboo done by. He told me about how they include the natural elements and the elements of design. I was really impressed with the simplicity of it. A few years later, I went back and studied under him.”
What is it about bamboo work that appeals to you?
“I love traditional materials and methods like charcoal drawing and stone carving so this practice really appealed to me. At one point my teacher (while holding a bamboo stick) said "I am a tattoo machine." That was probably one of the coolest things I've ever heard...”
Besides the obvious, how does it differ from machine tattooing?
“It differs from machine by being much older, more delicate on the skin (think sewing by hand vs. sewing machine) and healing faster; the redness is usually gone by the second day. On the other hand it takes longer and is more suitable for lines than lots of shading or colour. Both are possible it just take a long time.”
What styles and designs do you most enjoy?
“Linear designs work best. I like to mix traditional Thai style mixed with American Traditional.”
To see Tamara in action, click here. Interested in getting a bamboo tattoo? Give us a call at 604.532.1188.
In late October, a post made its way onto the internet, claiming that daith piercings relieve migraines. As is the nature of social media, the post went viral, and immediately, Twitter users began sharing their stories.
This caught the attention of medical professionals, who had some very mixed messages in response. Some claimed that acupuncturists had possessed this knowledge for centuries, and had long been targeting the daith in sessions for migraine and headache sufferers. Others were far more skeptical, warning that there was no scientific evidence that a piercing could have any long term effect on one's health and wellness. And we in the body mod industry were caught in the middle, fielding hundreds of phone calls and emails all asking the same question: does it really work?
We don't know. That's the most honest answer anyone – piercers, doctors, acupuncturists, and bloggers – can offer. We just don't know. To date, no actual scientific studies have been done, and it seems too soon to tell whether clients have had any long-term success. For our part, we've been asking that clients come back and let us know whether they've seen any changes in the intensity and frequency of their migraines and headaches, and we intend to post feedback as it comes in.
At this point, all we can tell you is this: best-case scenario, clients will report success, and this will hopefully lead to professional, academic studies being done, and a fairly inexpensive treatment for migraines and severe headaches. Worst-case scenario, it doesn't work, and you end up with an attractive new piercing. Our clients have been wonderfully receptive to that news, and seem prepared for either result, but we are all, of course, hoping for the former. Migraines are a horrible thing to cope with, and we would love to have stumbled upon a solution.
A few days ago, a friend posted this article, and to say it started a bit of a debate would be a gross understatement. Now, I like Cracked, because I have a terrible sense of humour and a fondness of profanity, but it's generally understood that it's not where one goes for accurate, informative articles on serious topics. Usually, I would just roll my eyes and scroll on past something like this. But, the ensuing debate, and the fact that it's been read over 700,000 times, worries me a little. How many of those 700,000 now believe that getting a tattoo is inviting yourself to be ripped off and given an infection? It's a frightening prospect. So, here I am, in the unbelievable position of feeling compelled to debunk a Cracked article. Drinks shall be had to drown my sorrows later.
4. "There are many types of tattoos they simply won't do"
Okay, this one is true. We've discussed that before in this blog - if we know that the tattoo is going to turn out awful and require hundreds of dollars in touch ups to keep it looking even halfway decent (fingers, for example), we often won't do them, and some artists will refuse to do a tattoo for ethical reasons (that swastika you want on your forehead may take some shopping around). Where the article starts to go wrong here is in saying the odds are pretty good that one artist won't finish another artist's work. While, yes, we always strongly suggest going back to the original artist, and yes, it is seen as disrespectful to touch someone else's work, we also understand there are numerous reasons you may not want to, or cannot, go back to the original shop. We're not going to make you go through life with a half-finished sleeve because your artist moved to Timbuktu.
3. "The prices are made up at random"
Sam says: "If you come in and say you want a $100 tattoo, we'll do it for $100, if it can be done for $100, but if that same person comes in and says they have $250 to spend, that same tattoo is now $250."
No, Sam, no. This is not standard practice, you are just a bit of an ass. Now, it's likely Sam is an American tattoo artist, and I admit, I have little idea how shops operate down there, but no reputable shop in Canada charges you at random, or takes your $250 for a $100 tattoo. We pretty well all have hourly rates that we will inform you of before you ever book your appointment, and will do our best to work within your budget. We also take the deposit off the final price of the tattoo, not add it on. Bad, bad, Sam.
2. "The real money comes from covering up previous, regrettable tattoos"
On the surface, this is somewhat true. Cover-ups often take a lot of time, and can be technically complicated, so they will almost certainly cost more than the original did. But, again, no reputable artist should be marking up the price because you have a tattoo you regret. We charge the same hourly rate for the cover-ups as we do the originals, and to do otherwise is bad business.
1. "Yes, you can get an infection"
Of course, any time skin is being broken, an infection is possible - no one can deny that with any amount of honesty. But this entry is particularly disturbing, as the risk of infection should be extremely minimal, and not justified with horrifying confessions of hiding sharps containers, sharing ink in questionable ways, and not cleaning tubes. Clean, reputable shops are perpetually on top of their health and safety standards - tools are always clean, unused ink is always thrown away, sharps containers are disposed of regularly, and garbage is taken out daily. This should go without saying, but, if you see artists hiding used needles outside so the health inspector doesn't see them - run, don't walk, far, far away from their shop.
Easily one of the most common, and annoying, questions the tattooed get is about us aging. What will we think of them when we’re old? Won’t we regret it? Won’t they look ugly? Of course, we can’t answer for everyone, but a lot of us have already thought of that, and are okay with it. Better yet, we have loads of aged icons to look up to. From famed 81 year old tattooist Lyle Tuttle to 76 year old world-record holder Isobel Varley, more than a few senior citizens have given us something to look forward to.
Lyle Tuttle, once known as the tattooist of the stars (clients include Cher, Janis Joplin, and Henry Fonda), had a pretty bad-ass tattoo at 40, and it’s no less awesome now that he’s in his 80s.
Isobel Varley didn’t even get her first tattoo until she was in her 40s. In her 70s, she became a Guinness Record Holder (most tattooed senior woman), and was second only to Julia Gnuse as most tattooed woman.
In fact, the “seniors sporting tattoos” trend has gone much further than just older folks that got tattooed when they were young. More and more, seniors are getting tattooed. Winifred Turner, 92, recently made headlines for becoming the oldest woman in the U.K. to get tattooed, and in 2004, then 94 year old American Ralph Bonebreak got his very first tattoo. The number of adults over 60 getting tattooed has never been higher, and 4 of the 5 most tattooed people in the world are over 50.
The next time someone asks you what you’ll think of your tattoos when you’re old, just remember Lyle, Isobel, Winifred, and Ralph, and let them know that you will be nothing short of fabulous.
It’s that time of year again – the sun has come out to play, the waters are warming, and we’re all spending a little more time outside. For most of us, summer is a favourite time of year, and a chance to show off our tattoos and piercings. It’s also, however, a time when we should be giving them a little extra love. Aftercare doesn’t end when the tattoos and piercings have healed, and summer is when it’s particularly important to keep that in mind.
While inks and techniques have improved vastly over the years, tattoos are still susceptible to the sun to some extent. Too much direct exposure will eventually lead to fading. Ideally, they should be covered by clothing, but we’re all going to break that rule in the summer. It is highly recommended that, if you are going to be spending a lot of time in the sun, you put extra sunscreen on your tattoos, and reapply it regularly. If your tattoo is newer and not quite healed, take extra care to keep it out of the sun completely, and out of the water (this is why getting tattooed in the dead of summer is not ideal!).
Piercings also need a bit of love in the summer – sweat, bacteria in water, and simply being a bit more physically active can all anger an otherwise happy piercing. Take a little extra time to clean them well with saline, particularly after going for a swim. It’s also a good idea to switch to smoother (more metal, less jewels) jewelry if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in lakes, rivers, or the ocean, as jewels tend to trap bacteria, making them harder to keep clean. If you are going to wear your shiniest pieces to the beach this year, be sure to take them out regularly and give them a thorough cleaning. And, just as with tattoos, if the piercing is still fairly new, you’ll want to avoid water completely.
We all love to show off our body art, and most of us love the summer heat. Taking just a little extra time and care can go a long way in ensuring we have something worth showing off for many years to come.
Tim has been with I-Kandy for several years now, but got his start in Alberta. An artist since childhood, Tim used to doodle on anything and everything, later moving on to more refined drawing and painting, and eventually a seat in Fine Arts at the University of Alberta. His interest in tattooing began the way it does for many - getting his own first tattoo. Having painted and drawn for years, tattooing was a new artform for him to explore, and one that could potentially become a career. In the early 2000s, Tim began apprenticing under Stephanie Corvus of Dragon FX in Edmonton, Alberta. Upon completing his apprenticeship, he moved to British Columbia, working for The Fall before finding his way to us.
Tim is well known by clients for his vibrant colour pieces, often whimsical style, and attention to detail. He says he doesn't have any one particular favourite style, rather, he enjoys any piece that requires creativity, stretching his imagination, and collaboration with his clients. He both enjoys and excels at translating their words and stories into works of art, and loves the challenge of designing a tattoo that not only looks good, but looks good on them. He believes that tailoring the art to the person is vital in creating a piece both artist and client can be proud of.
View Tim's complete portfolio here.
Happy Friday! With the long weekend upon us, it's likely a lot of you are going to be partying it up (we know we will be!), but just as many of you are undoubtedly happy to have a few days to just take it easy at home or on the beach. If that sounds like a plan, why not indulge in some eye-pleasing media while you're at it? Below are some of our favourite body-mod related books and videos. So sit back, relax, and enjoy!
Sailor Jerry Collins : American Tattoo Master
To call Sailor Jerry a legend would be an understatement, and this book shows us why. Filled with stories, pictures, original sketches, and more, this book is a must-have for all fans of old-school tattoos and tattoo history.
Flesh & Blood
This fascinating documentary takes us into the world of innovative, and sometimes controversial, body mod artist Steve Haworth, and the subculture he helped create.
The Tattoo Coloring Book
Think colouring is just for kids? Think again! This 240 page collection of original tattoo designs lets you step into the artist's shoes and revisit your childhood by filling them in however you see fit.
Tattoo Nation : The True Story of the Ink Revolution
Featuring some well-known celebrities and artists, Tattoo Nation tells the tale of how tattooing in North America evolved from a mark of rebellion to a respected art form.
How did you get into tattooing?
My mother always wanted me to pursue a career in art, however I continued to advise her that that would not be a good idea since I used to hear the term “starving artist” all the time. Then I got my first tattoo. After that, I decided I wanted to go into the tattoo industry. My mom decided to invest in me and bought me my first professional machine and equipment, and I began tattooing myself and my friends (I know, not a good idea). Luckily, my friends to this day never complain about them (laughs).
When did you begin tattooing professionally, and how has that influenced your work?
Approximately a decade ago, I opened my own home studio. Once going full-time with it, I have seen my work improve so much. Working in a great shop like I-Kandy with great artists has done more for me in my growth then I could list here.
You’ve become rather well-known for your detailed 3D pieces – what other styles do you enjoy?
I’m pretty well rounded with the styles I can do, but, aside from 3D, my favourites are black and grey pieces and Japanese themed designs.
You’ve stated before that you’re always looking to improve and grow. What’s next for you?
I definitely want to perfect my black and grey wash pieces and master 3D art. I’m also wanting to get into portraits and more freehand work. I’m always learning, both from technical art classes and other tattooists.
It’s Valentine’s Day! For many of you, that means dinner, chocolates, and flowers. For us, it means a sudden influx of clients wanting their spouse’s name, or a wedding band, tattooed on them. We understand the desire to express your love and partnership through a tattoo – afterall, a tattoo is a beautiful piece of art, meant to last forever, and most of you probably view your relationship in much the same way. Rings and names, however, come with some serious issues, and rather than give you a tattoo you may regret in a few years, we’d prefer to use our skills and creativity to come up with a piece of art you can appreciate more and more as time passes.
Let’s just get this out of the way right off the bat: names are a bad idea, and most artists won’t do them. While we of course all want our marriages to last forever, some don’t, and the last thing anyone wants is their ex’s name tattooed across their chest. For many tattooists, there is a superstition, as silly as it may sound, that tattooing your spouse’s name is bad luck. I know, I know – but superstition is hard to overcome; few of us truly believe 13 to be unlucky, but that floor is still conspicuously missing in many buildings. Once a superstitious belief has settled in as part of the culture, it is almost impossible to remove.
Tattooed wedding bands aren’t frowned upon in the same way names are, but they are a technical nightmare. As we’ve mentioned before, finger tattoos in general are not recommended, and to see something as meaningful and lovely as a wedding ring slowly turn into a black, blotchy mess would be heartbreaking.
There’s good news in all of this, though. Inks, methods, and attitudes have evolved immensely over the years, allowing for the possibility of truly creative expressions of your love and commitment. Rather than a simple ring or a handwritten name, couples can now tailor their tattoos to them, personally. A shared, inside joke can become the foundation for a bright, fun piece you can both wear. A mutual passion for music or sailboats or cycling or books can be turned into a piece that really means something to you as a couple. Designs that symbolize your connection (keys and locks, half-hearts that become whole when you touch, anchors, etc) are another popular and creative option. The possibilities are endless, really, and that’s precisely why we suggest doing something a bit different. No two couples are the same, so their tattoos shouldn’t be either. Let your tattoo tell your story.
Happy Valentine’s Day!