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.
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.
With every passing year, the knowledge that piercing guns are a bad idea becomes more commonplace. However, this leaves many parents unsure of what to do – many shops (ours included) won’t pierce anyone under the age of 7, which puts a damper on the longstanding tradition of piercing your baby’s ears. While it may seem a bit of a bummer, there are numerous good reasons for this policy, and they have only your child’s interests in mind.
We’ve discussed before why piercing guns are dangerous; the fact that they cannot be completely sterilized, the lack of hollow needle, the absence of proper training for the piercer, and the inappropriate aftercare all come together to create a potentially disastrous experience. Put simply, an untrained clerk is using a non-sterile piece of equipment to shoot a dull piece of jewelry into your child’s flesh, and then giving you a bottle of harsh chemicals to clean the wound with. Not exactly what you had in mind for your little one, is it? As much as it may go against the common stereotypes, tattoo shops are, by and large, very clean and safe places. We use disposable, sterile needles. We clean and sterilize our tools using medical equipment, such as autoclaves and ultrasonics. We wipe down our stations with products that kill bacteria and viruses on contact, ensuring even the chair you sit on is free of contamination. And, once the piercing is complete, we arm you with aftercare information, and saline solution – the same product hospitals flush wounds with and first-aid attendants never leave home without.
But, why 7? What makes that the magic number, and why won’t we pierce your baby? First and foremost, tattoo shops, as opposed to malls who’ve only profit in mind, value consent and understanding. We want to pierce your child because they want to be pierced, and we want them to be capable of understanding the aftercare themselves. Further, babies and toddlers are less aware of where they are putting their hands – they’ll pull on their new piercing, touch it, get it dirty, and, on occasion, rip it out. The chance of them healing well and staying happy increases exponentially with every year they wait. Lastly, babies and toddlers are often involved in activities that can irritate a piercing – swimming lessons, playing in the sandbox, making snow angels – all of these and more are really bad for a fresh piercing. By 7, your child is old enough to understand that getting their ears pierced may mean sitting out for awhile.
For many little girls and boys, an ear piercing is a huge experience. It’s a milestone –the first of many steps towards autonomy they will take. Make it a safe and enjoyable one.
You may also like to check out related blog posts:
"Why I Took My 7-Year-Old to a Tattoo Shop"
“Good luck getting a job!”
Anyone that has a visible tattoo has likely heard this more than once. And, once upon a time, it was a somewhat accurate criticism – in days past, those with obvious tattoos couldn’t hope to be much more than a circus sideshow or part of a criminal enterprise. What many have not seemed to have noticed, however, is that times have changed. A lot. Here are 5 jobs that love your mods: a couple of which may surprise you.
1. The arts industry. This one may not be surprising at first – afterall, tattoos are art, and the art world has always been a bit weirder and more liberal than many others. But when we look at the full scope of jobs included here, we realize that many are jobs that used to oppose visible tattoos. Floor staff and cashiers at bookstores and libraries, music and instrument retailers, art teachers, professors, dance instructors, and curators were at one time expected to have a more “professional” look, which meant a clean-cut, blank-canvas appearance. Recent years have seen a great change in attitude, however, and more and more art professionals are showing off their ink with no great consequence.
2. The medical field. While mods are still largely frowned upon for doctors, views are rapidly changing for many others in the medical field. Nurses, ultrasonographers, pharmacists, and various medical technicians are reporting less and less stigma surrounding tattoos. This is likely helped by a growing support for medical tattoos, such as allergy warnings, medic alerts, and cosmetic tattoos for cancer survivors.
3. Healthy/alternative living companies. Because the general philosophy of alternative living, whether related to groceries, medicines, clothing, or homes, is that one needn’t adhere to tradition to live a good life, these companies tend to be a lot more accepting of alternative appearances as well. Businesses such as Trader Joe’s, Nature’s Fare, and similar outlets, have been praised in body-mod circles for their openness to mods.
4. Food industry professionals. And no, I’m not talking about people with tattoos having to work at McDonald’s. Chefs, restaurant owners, professional bartenders, wait-staff, grocers, and food suppliers are all welcome to have tattoos.
5. IT/Technical careers. It may not be surprising that those who work behind the scenes more often than with the public are allowed more leeway in their appearance, but it’s important to mention, as there is still a stereotype that heavily tattooed people can’t get a “good” job. IT/technical careers are often very lucrative, and happily allow mods of all kinds. This is just one of many industries that prove being tattooed does not have to mean being broke.
When I logged into Facebook the other day, this picture, along with this article, were staring me in the face. A group I frequent was debating – and I do use that term loosely – why anyone would do such a thing to themselves. A fair question, I suppose, but one that has no concrete answer. People tossed out everything from mental illness to low self-esteem to a desperate desire to be different, but, having worked in the body mod industry for several years now, none of these replies were satisfactory to me.
So why do people get such extreme mods? What compels people to pierce their heels, or tattoo their entire face? Why would anyone want a 0g tunnel in their labret, or spike implants in their head? The truth of the matter is, only they know. There is no single answer to this question – and that is, in and of itself, the best answer of all. Each and every person that delves into the more extreme side of body modification does it for their own reasons. Daniel, the possessor of the Achilles piercings, didn’t ever offer a reason for doing so, but many others have, and the answers are as varied and controversial as the mods themselves.
Stelarc, a well-known artist and body mod enthusiast, talks about his rather extreme mods – including an “ear” implanted into his arm – in artistic, transhumanist terms. For him, these modifications offer insight into “the increasing intimacy of machines and the human body”. Russ Foxx, world-renowned body-mod artist, offers a vaguer reason behind mods like eyeball tattooing, saying only that the eyes are “a strong communication tool” and that the ink injections can create “amazing and beautiful effects”. James Keen, a young, heavily modified eunuch, cites extremely personal reasons that include a feeling of gender-neutrality and a “primitive urge” to modify.
When looking at, and into, these extreme mods, it seems the relevant question is not “why”, but “what”. They whys are often far too personal, and too difficult, to articulate. It’s the what – the message one hopes to communicate, or the result one hopes to attain – that goes a long way in explaining the desire to have these extreme modifications, and the willingness to push the envelope. Whether the ultimate goal is artistic, philosophical, historical, sexual, aesthetic, religious, or something entirely different, there is a universal theme that runs through them all. Each and every one of these extreme mods is a declaration of autonomy, a powerful and unapologetic claiming of one’s own body. And perhaps that’s where the real discussion should begin. Rather than question the sanity of the people who enjoy these mods, we should be asking ourselves why autonomy is something to be questioned.
Anyone with a tattoo, piercing, or even brightly coloured hair or make-up has likely heard their fair share of ridiculous questions and comments. Some are innocent enough – asking us what our tattoos mean to us, or whether that lip piercing hurt are understandable, I suppose. But there are a few common statements that get really old, really fast. Here are our top 5:
1. Aren’t you going to regret those when you’re older? On the outside, that may seem like a valid question. I must admit, I’ve silently asked it when seeing an 18 year old with a tarantula on his face, or a young woman with “HARD CORE” tattooed across her knuckles. And, you know what? Some people WILL regret them later. But that is their business, not anyone else’s, and it annoyingly presumes that everyone with a visible or controversial tattoo has failed to give it any thought, which I can assure you, is not true.
2. You’d look so much prettier without that. Pretty well every woman that has ever dared to get a facial piercing, tattoo, or dye her hair purple has heard this, more than once. Stop it. No, seriously, stop. Body-mods are about autonomy, not about conforming to someone else’s standards of beauty – we like the way we look with our tattoos and piercings and weird hair and make-up. If that’s not your thing, that’s ok, but it is ours, and that should be ok too.
3. Good luck getting a job! Yes, it’s certainly true that there are still some professions that frown upon visible mods, but that doesn’t make this statement any less obnoxious. It assumes far too much – that the person doesn’t currently have a good job, that they will eventually want a job in which mods won’t be permitted, that all professions worth having disallow mods, and that the person in question hasn’t already given that some thought.
4. Can I buy some pot? Okay, perhaps that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but there is still a perception amongst some that heavily tattooed or alternative looking people are criminals, drug dealers, gang members, or just plain ol’ bad people. This stereotype has never been accurate, but it’s especially untrue and outdated now – the last few decades have seen huge strides in tattoo equipment/ink, piercing methods and jewelry, and artistic collaboration, allowing body-modification to grow into a more than legitimate art-form. We’re not criminals, we’re canvases.
5. Why would you do that to yourself? I think we’ve all encountered this person before, as well – the one who sees body-modification as mutilation or masochism, and thinks there must be something wrong with anyone who wants to do it. That a tattoo is a cry for help, that a facial piercing is a sign of low self-esteem, that a microdermal is some new-fangled form of torture. While, I suppose, from the outside looking in, it may seem a little odd to want a bunch of holes in your body, or some permanent images on your skin, it must be kept in mind that every style, every subculture, every clique, seems odd to someone. Odd needn’t mean negative, however – there’s no reason to believe we’re doing something bad just because it’s something you don’t understand.
It can be assumed that most of our readers are from the lower mainland, and therefore already know about the fantastic Vancouver Tattoo & Culture Show, scheduled this year for April 25-27. But what if you live elsewhere, or are prone to world travel? Here are 6 must-visit tattoo shows happening around the world this year.
It’s that time of year once again. Eggnog and rum, regrettable boxes of chocolates that never made it under the tree, divorce-causing games of Monopoly, and, of course, the panicked frenzy of last minute shopping. Some people are harder to buy for than others, and when we run across that person on our list, we tend to think about what interests them most, what they’re like, and what we think they might enjoy. If your hard to buy for person happens to have a lot of tattoos or an 8g hoop in their septum, you may be tempted to go in that direction. Here are a few tips.
DO! Buy gift certificates – I-Kandy sells them in any denomination you so desire, so you can pay for anything from a piece of jewelry to the price of a full back piece.
DON’T! Book them an actual tattoo appointment, unless they’ve already had a consultation, and you know the artist’s name and schedule. A lot of people change their minds, or want to discuss things, several times before actually getting tattooed, so forcing them to commit isn’t a great idea.
DO! Get them hoodies, toques, coffee mugs, or anything else that sports the logo of their favourite shop or tattoo/piercing company. We body mod enthusiasts love our gear, and we can never have too much of it!
DON’T! Guess about the size of their jewelry. The ideal is to buy them a gift certificate so that they can pick their own, but some people think that’s a bit of a cold gift, and would prefer giving an actual, physical present. If this is your case, try to bring in a piece of their old jewelry to compare it to, or buy something you’re sure you’ve seen them wear before. Guessing about the size is never a good idea – there isn’t just the gauge to worry about, but also length/diameter, and bead size. Everyone has their own preferences, and you may not know what they are.
DO! Buy them aftercare, such as Tattoo Goo or saline, particularly to go with their gift certificate. The fun part of a new mod is…well…the new mod. You providing them with their aftercare means they get to just sit back and enjoy the experience, knowing everything else has already been taken care of.
We all love (and I do mean LOVE) to receive mod-related gifts at this time of year. Hopefully these tips help everyone give, and get, something that will be truly appreciated.
Like any other industry or artistic medium, body modification has its own, unique language – terms that are used pretty well exclusively within our community, and words that take on a new meaning in regards to our work. Below is a small “dictionary” of body mod terms.
BODY MODIFICATION : This is the all-encompassing term for tattoos, piercings, scarification, branding, dermal implants, stretching/gauging, and even several procedures that have nothing to do with an average tattoo shop, including plastic surgery, cosmetic tattooing, tooth shaping, and tightlacing. Body modification is, essentially, the deliberate alteration of one’s body and appearance.
BRANDING : Branding is a form of modification that uses high heat to effectively burn a design into your skin. There are a few different branding techniques, creating various styles.
CBB/CBR : When you get a new piercing, your piercer is likely to ask you what type of jewelry you would like. Many opt for studs or barbells to begin with, but you can often choose a CBB or a CBR as well. So, what are they? A CBB is a curved barbell – the horseshoe shaped pieces with a ball on each end. A CBR is a captive bead ring – the hoops with a ball connecting the ends.
DERMAL/SUB-DERMAL/TRANSDERMAL IMPLANTS : “Dermal” means, quite simply, “of the skin”. More specifically, the dermis is the layer of skin between the epidermis and the subcutaneous tissue. A dermal implant, then, is the insertion of a foreign object beneath it – generally semi-permanent jewelry, such as microdermals or dermal anchors, or silicone and Teflon implants, used to create designs under the skin.
GAUGE : “Gauge” refers to the thickness of your piercing needle and jewelry. The bigger the number, the thinner the jewelry. For example, someone wanting to stretch their lobes would likely start at 10g; the average navel piercing is 14g; and a standard earring or nostril piercing is between 16-18g. While we certainly don’t expect you to memorise all these numbers, if you are planning to stretch your piercing, it’s a good idea to get a feel for the sizes.
INFECTION/IRRITATION : In both tattooing and piercing, there is concern of infection and irritation, but many people do not know the difference between the two. Most often, when you think you have an infection, what you really have is irritation, which is much less severe, and much easier to remedy. Irritation can be caused by many things – too small jewelry, fabric rubbing against your new piece, not keeping it clean, or touching it too much are just a few common reasons. Most of the time, irritation can be treated by simply keeping it clean, and otherwise leaving it alone. An infection is more serious, and needs to be dealt with quickly. In both tattoos and piercings, infections have visible signs – dark colouring around your piece, foul odor coming from it, pain or severe bruising, and dark green or yellow discharge coming from it (white or light yellow discharge, however, is completely normal and not a sign of infection). If you fear you may have an infection, please see your artist or a doctor immediately.
PLUG : A plug is a usually cylindrical piece of jewelry most often used in stretched lobes. They differ from tunnels in that they are solid.
RIM : While it’s tempting to define each and every piercing there is, that would be a post or two unto itself. The rim is a very common piercing that is rarely called by its proper name, so addressing this one specifically seemed like a good idea. Most people wanting their rim pierced will ask for a “cartilage piercing”, but cartilage is common to several parts of your body – most of your outer ear, your back, your ribcage, and all of your joints, to name just a few. If you are wanting the cartilage at the top of your ear pierced, what you actually want is a rim piercing.
SCARIFICATION : Scarification is the creation of scars, usually via scalpels, to design the skin. There are several forms of scarification, resulting in different types of scars, giving the client and artist a wide range of creative possibilities.
ULTRASONIC & AUTOCLAVE : Two machines that no shop should be without. The ultrasonic uses high frequency waves to clean equipment much more thoroughly than could be done by hand. The autoclave uses extreme heat to sterilize equipment. The combination of methods ensures that any piece of equipment or jewelry that touches you is as clean as it is possible for something to be.
These are just a few common terms that you will hear around the shop – if there are more you have wondered about, leave a comment on our Facebook page.
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!