Anyone who has spent more than five minutes on Facebook has likely seen their fair share of “tattoo fails” – tattoos that are…regrettable, to say the least. While we all find them hysterical, it’s pretty likely that, were it on you, it wouldn’t be near as funny. You may think that, as a reasonably intelligent person that has laughed at many a ridiculous tattoo, you are immune to such disaster, but it takes only the slightest error in judgement to become the proud owner of a permanent mistake. Here are a few tips to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Though today’s sunshine makes it hard to believe, winter is in fact upon us. For most tattoo shops, this means the slow season has begun. Summertime’s showing of skin and outdoor fun tends to tempt people to get a new tattoo or piercing to show off, so we’ve no shortage of clients in the spring and summer months. What few know, however, is that winter is actually a far friendlier time for body mods.
Fresh piercings require a bit of love for several weeks while they heal. Two important things to keep in mind are that one should avoid swimming – a favourite summer pastime for many – and that keeping the area clean is vital – something that is far tougher to do in the sweaty, outdoorsy months than in the colder, stay-indoors climate of winter.
When it comes to tattoos, there is even more reason to choose winter over summer. As with piercings, swimming must be avoided, and the area kept clean. But on top of that, sunshine is terrible for a new tattoo – the heat and light of the sun dries out your skin, and lends itself to fading ink and a longer healing process. It’s also a lot more uncomfortable. Anyone that has broken a bone in the summer knows the discomfort of the heat under a cast – tattoos are covered when first done, and should be hidden from the sun for several weeks afterwards – staying covered up in the heat is less than pleasant, to say the least. Getting a tattoo, especially a larger piece in a conspicuous area, in the dead of summer often means choosing between two equally poor options: expose your precious new piece of art to the hot sun, and risk damaging it, or keep it covered and dry through the hottest part of the season, leaving you uncomfortable and unable to jump into the cool waters of the ocean or your favourite pool.
Of course, we’re not saying no body mods can be done in the summer. If you are wanting a small piece in an area you’d not be showing off anyway, or aren’t really big on swimming, there’s no reason you can’t get pierced or tattooed at any time of year. But we hope to see a flip in trends – while summer is our busiest time, and winter our slowest, it really should be the other way around. So, if you have been pondering getting a piece but have been putting it off, or are wondering what to get a loved one for Christmas, now may be the time to consider going for it. Happy tattoo season, all!
Over the past year, the I-Kandy blog has reported on newsworthy topics, ongoing stories, and documentaries, books, and sites of interest. As the year draws to a close, so too do some of these tales –while others are just starting to get good. Here is our almost-year-end collection of follow-ups and things to follow.
A couple of months ago, my niece got a tattoo. Despite the fact that I work at a tattoo shop, she made the rather unwise decision to have it done by an inexperienced “artist” (and I do use that term loosely) working out of his house. I was, of course, furious with her, and ranted and raved about it for quite a long time. Until I saw the tattoo. At that moment, the soft-hearted auntie in me reappeared, and my anger quickly shifted to whomever had “tattooed” her (I use that term evenmore loosely). The script was almost illegible, there were two images so tiny that I expect they will be little more than black blobs next year, and – get this – the main part of the design had no ink. Yes, you read that right. He had, rather than tattooing her, scarred her with his tattoo machine. She, being young and naïve, did not ask to see the “tattoo” when it was done. He bandaged her up and sent her on her way, and she had no idea until much later that her beloved design was little more than a faint scar. Now, a lot of the blame obviously goes to her for ignoring everyone and going to a scratcher. But, the little defence I can offer her is that no one goes to any sort of tattooist expecting an inkless tattoo. Using ink is a pretty standard part of tattooing. But it gets even worse. This scratcher that had scarred my precious niece told her that we – I-Kandy – had trained him. That was, apparently, why she had trusted him to do it.
Scratchers and frauds – people that claim to be artists, but are little more than conmen with tattoo machines – have always existed, but thanks to the internet, are more common than ever. It takes about thirty seconds of Googling to find a do-it-yourself tattoo kit that can be ordered by absolutely anyone. People looking to make a quick buck (especially people that have a modicum of artistic ability) can, and will, order these kits, buy a box of latex gloves, and voila – they can now call themselves tattooists. Problem is, they are both apathetic and likely unaware of how much more being a tattoo artists entails. One cannot just pick up a machine and go at it. What is an autoclave? What is a pathogen? How do you properly set up? How is a stencil applied? How deep should you go? How many needles should be used? That is just a teeny-tiny sampling of the questions you should be able to answer before you even think about picking up a machine. Scratchers have no concern for such details, however. They don’t care about your health and safety. They don’t care about cleanliness. They don’t care about skill. They care about being cool, and taking your money.
Don’t be my niece. Never go to a “shop” that does not have a business license, an ultra-sonic and autoclave (every reputable shop will be more than willing to show them to you), and artist portfolios for you to view. Never go to an artist working out of their kitchen. And, if your artist claims to have been trained somewhere, call that place and ask about it. People who were trained at a professional shop do not tend to end up working from their dirty kitchen table, unless they were fired for incompetence, or just plain don’t care about hygiene. It is your health, your body, and your tattoo at stake, here – you have every right to question, to confirm, and to hold out for something better.