Before jumping head-first into the world of body modification, there are several things one should research and consider. Among the most important is location and placement; where you get your tattoo is almost as big of a decision as what you get. Here's why:
1. Career considerations. While many industries are becoming much more open to visible tattoos, many others will likely always expect a more conservative appearance. Think seriously about your career goals before getting a visible tattoo.
2. All skin is not the same. Bend your wrist forward - see those wrinkle-like lines that form? Tattooing over those lines is a near guarantee that your tattoo will heal and age poorly. Hands, fingers, feet, and facial skin all pose their own unique challenges as well. This isn't to say they can't be tattooed or that they won't look good, it just means you want to consider the type of skin you'll be having tattooed before making your final decision. Talk to your artist, and ask them how the location will affect the way it heals.
3. Size. In order for a tattoo to age well, it has to be an appropriate size - that is, if the design is intricate, or incorporates words or numbers, it needs to be large enough that the lines can spread a little without losing those details. This means the location you choose has to accommodate the size of the piece - larger pieces are best done on the back, as a sleeve, filling your calf, or across the chest or stomach.
4. Body changes. No matter your age, your body shape is not likely to stay static. Whether it be due to weight loss or gain, aging, a pregnancy, bodybuilding, unforeseen circumstances such as an illness, or hormonal changes, the shape and size of our bodies can change drastically over time. Keep this in mind when choosing your tattoo's location - while not all changes can be planned for, most can. Women wanting to get pregnant in the future should hold off on stomach or ribcage pieces; anyone planning to lose or gain weight should consider that before getting a currently really flabby or really bony body part tattooed; young people should keep in mind that the location they've chosen may one day sag.
5. Ink is addictive. We've all heard the old potato chip slogan applied to tattoos: betcha can't get just one. For many, this is all too true, and if you don't consider where you're going to want to put those second, third, and fourth tattoos, you may end up with a messy collage of mismatched pieces on your arm or leg. Before you get your first tattoo, think about your future plans - do you eventually want a sleeve? Then you probably shouldn't get a single, small tattoo on your arm. The same goes for any other part of your body - give a little thought to what other pieces you may want before deciding where to put this one.
Getting your first tattoo is an exciting, monumental moment. A little care, consideration, and research will ensure you are just as happy with it ten years from now as you are today.
So, this happened. Earlier this month, a tattoo “artist” had his home studio shut down by health officials after they discovered some startlingly dangerous practices – namely, the complete lack of sterilization equipment and sanitation practices. Now, you may be thinking something along the lines of “no shit” – home-based tattoo shops have long had a bad reputation for being unclean and unsafe. But, keep in mind that this also happened. Even so-called professional tattoo shops can fail to uphold even the most basic safety standards. Stories like these undoubtedly leave potential tattoo recipients feeling nervous and scared. And rightly so.
How, then, does one choose a safe, clean shop? Of course, we at I-Kandy want you to come see us for your tattoo and piercing needs. We pride ourselves on our incredibly high standards and use of the most up-to-date, medical grade equipment. But we also know that many of our readers are scattered across the globe, and therefore can’t just come on down to see us whenever they want a new tattoo. So, we would like to help all of you choose wisely by offering up some basic advice.
First and foremost, any reputable shop will have an autoclave and ultrasonic on the premises. These are sanitization and sterilization machines that ensure any piece of equipment that comes near you is clean and safe to use. Any safety-minded shop will be more than willing to show you this equipment (though they may not let you right into the room it’s kept in, as we take several precautions before coming near the equipment).
Another strong sign that a shop is safe is their use of needles – all needles should be disposable, and come out of a sterilized package. This applies to both tattoo artists and piercers. Similarly, their set-up should reflect their use of sterile needles – you will see plastic coverings on machines, a needle disposal box, barriers between surfaces, and skin cleansers.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the use of gloves is also of utmost importance. Many of these dirty shops that get shut down throw up a huge red-flag with their questionable use of gloves. Some of these “artists” don’t wear them at all, while others wear the same pair throughout several different stages of the tattoo. The use, and changing, of rubber or latex gloves is vital in keeping both you, and them, safe. Any artist who feels comfortable getting your blood and tissue on their hands, and then touching their equipment and items around the shop is someone you want to run, not walk, away from.
Finally, look around the shop itself. A studio that prides itself on safe practices will not only take the proper precautions when it comes to equipment, but will advertise this cleanliness by ensuring the entire shop is clean. Check out the floors, the front desk, the bathroom. While these are public places, and therefore may have the occasional footprint on the floor or fingerprint on a glass display, the shop should be free of dirt and debris.
And, of course, read reviews. No shop has 100% good reviews – that’s to be expected of any business, as everything from loyalties to politics can influence how someone feels about a business, and some people just enjoy stirring up trouble. But a reputable shop should have mostly good reviews, including comments about cleanliness, professional attitudes, and informed artists. All of these are good indications that a shop is clean and safe.