(Image credit here)
Tattoos and piercings are becoming increasingly mainstream. Some argue this is because my generation lacks some other, perhaps more definitive, rite of passage.
Maybe, but I'd also like to think it's because my generation finds diversity of body types not only acceptable, but fantastic. I've always had a deep admiration and respect for tattoo artists and body modification as a form of artistry.
So, as someone who has cultivated a love for body modification for may years (*ahem*voted in high school "Most Likely to become a Tattoo Artist"*ahem*) and has a couple of friends in the business- allow me to present to you my personal
DO'S and DON'TS.
+ Research potential risks and complications of piercings. Though I wouldn't say it's the ultimate authority, BMEzine is a good place to start.
+ Respect that tattoos are forever. Removal sucks. Respect your body and invest some time in to the design and placement of your piece.
+ Develop a working relationship with a reputable artist.
How do you know if they're reputable? Here's some tips:- Look for health department certification in the shop (it takes 30 seconds to Google your local state law requirements).
- Ask to look at a potential artists portfolio (you can often get a feel for their style on their website, if they have one, but talk to the artist in person before you get tattooed and ask for a portfolio of HEALED pieces).
- Ask around. If I spy a person with a nice tattoo, I find is it perfectly acceptable to politely ask , "Your tattoo is amazing. Who is your artist?" Gain a consensus.
+ Take care of your piercing or tattoo! Do what your artist says and when in doubt, call the shop.
+ Be prepared to spend some money. If you can't afford to get it, you can't afford to fix it when it fucks up. I generally avoid any shop that advertises being cheap because... ya get what you pay for, which may in fact be a staph infection if you base your choices on who's cheap.
+ Let the artist be an artist. Don't just Google Image Search or pick flash off the wall and slap it on. Cater the piece to you via your artist.
+ For piercings, be aware of what type of metal the jewelry is. Generally, it's best to stick with solid (not plated) metals.
+ Wear sunscreen. Especially over a lovely, healed tattoo that you want to keep looking nice.
+ Tip the artist. They will remember you fondly for it. You want to be in good graces with someone who's gonna be poking you with sharp objects.
+ Be aware that some people have tendencies to have reactions to some types/colors of ink (red and white ink especially). Be aware that no tattoo ink is FDA approved. Concerned about what's in the ink? Vegan? Talk to your shop!
+ Be aware that very few piercings (in my experience) are forever. Be prepared for keloiding, rejection, and potential scarring. However, for earlobe stretching/gauging, there is a certain point where the lobes will not shrink back down.
+ Consider the potential for issues with your job or school when it comes to visible body modification.
+ For lip/tongue/facial piercings, be aware of the potential for gum erosion or tooth damage.
+ Carefully research any tattoo concept that's in a foreign language or characters. Check your spelling on lettering a million times.
+ For beautiful people of color- I encourage you to look at your tattoo concept on brown-toned paper. I've had friends who really liked their concept when it was drawn up, but were disappointed when it looked different on their skin. Laughably, my skin is about the color of printer paper, but get thee to a craft store and print your idea out on paper that is similar to your skin tone.
+ Over-care for your tattoo/piercing. Do what your artist says and don't hesitate to ask if there's concern, but don't OVER-WASH it either. Sometimes the best practice is LITHA (leave it the hell alone). Be aware of what an infection can look like, but over-washing can be detrimental to the healing process by taking away the body's natural healing gooey scabby goodness.
+ Do not pick or scratch your healing tattoo. Pat it.
+ Go to a tattoo shop drunk/high. Be present!
+ Copy someone else's design. That's just tacky.
+ Get a tattoo because it's trendy, but don't poopoo an idea just because it's popular. I've seen a few tribal pieces in person recently that look amazing.
+ Ask tattooed/pierced people dumbass/prodding questions.
Let me help you people (and you know who you are) by answering all these questions right now:-Yes, it hurt but pain is subjective.
-No you can't touch it.
-It's none of your damn business as to what it means.
Now this is in no way and exhaustive list, but it's a good place to start if you're considering a tattoo or piercing. Some of you may be wondering, so I'll go ahead and be nice. I have 3 tattoos and 3 piercings. I've started a Pintrest Board if you're interested in how I would describe my tattoo style. What's yours?