Tattoos & Piercings are becoming more and more common and with the rise of anything, comes the rise of complications. Tattoos and piercings are extremely low maintenance IF you know how to take care of them or more specifically how not to fuck them up.
The biggest and most common mistake is to over react, over clean and over stimulate.
Basic aftercare is given after most tattoos or piercings by the artist who did the procedure, there are no real RIGHT or WRONG instructions and the artist will always try to give you the best information in their opinion or experience. For a tattoo, you will be told to take the bandage or covering off anywhere from two hours to three days later depending on the artist and the kind of covering. Wash the tattoo with a mild unscented soap and allow the tattoo to air dry or pat dry with a paper towel. You will be told to apply a type of moisturizing product to the tattoo one to two times a day or as needed. NEVER SCRATCH OR PICK the tattoo, don't soak the tattoo in any water for long periods of time, avoid dirt, swimming, hot tubs or other bodily fluids till the scabs are gone. Follow the artists’ instructions but more importantly listen to your body, if it’s dry, moisturize. If it’s squishy and the scabs are raised, moisturize less.
Piercings are sea salt and water for every type of piercing. You can use Saline or Piercing Aftercares, but a rinse or soak twice a day of sea salt + water for a few minutes will heal every piercing, as well as heal almost all complications that arise including mild keloids, infections, hypertrophic scars and piercing pimples. The mixture is approximately 1 teaspoon of non iodized sea salt to 1 cup of warm purified or distilled water.
Infections or more specifically serious infections are actually incredibly rare. In fact, it is far harder to actually contract anything from a tattoo or piercing done in a safe environment than most people believe: did you know that HIV has never been proven to have been transmitted through tattooing, while it is theoretically possible, it has never happened in recorded medical history. If you are going to a safe and clean shop, you do not need to sterilize or disinfect your tattoo or piercing as there is no harmful bacteria present and over cleaning will actually do more harm than good by killing the bodies natural bacteria and anti-bodies.
Top five most common complications
The above are extremely vague descriptions and we recommend contacting your piercer or tattoo artist if you are unsure but more often then not what you are experiencing is harmless and totally normal. We do advise against asking your friends for their opinions and NEVER EVER google your symptoms.
As the tattoo client, you have a responsibility: the responsibility to do your research.
In this age of technology - you have no excuse not to look at portfolios, check out reviews, and compare, hundreds of artists. You don’t even have to put on pants to look through thousands of shops and portfolios
You have a responsibility to not just walk in to a random shop, talk to the random artist and trust that they are capable of doing what they say they can do.
And with saying all that: If you get a bad tattoo - it’s not the artists fault - it’s yours.
This is not a conversation about GOOD art vs BAD, or if a tattoo artist is actually a good tattoo artist. If a client, gets tattooed by a bad artist and they didn't know... it's the client's fault. Period.
I personally have never walked into a shop, walked up to the counter and said “This is that I want” and just trusted that the person I spoke to is actually capable of doing the tattoo I'm expecting or envisioning. and so far, I am very happy with ALL of my tattoo work.
and here's why:
• Many tattoo shops have what’s known as a “walk in” artist or several.
• These tattoo artists vary in quality and skill between artists and shops. A good shop will have good artists doing walk ins, but the issue with most shops, is that it’s a race to the front desk for the artists: whoever speaks to the client first, is the one who gets that tattoo.
• The problem with that is simple; Tattoo Artist A - may be fantastic at traditional tattoos while Tattoo Artist B is great at colour portraits. If you go in asking for a portrait of your grandma and you talk to Artist A in a shop that runs on the premise of who ever speaks to the client, gets that client, they’re going to say they can do it, meanwhile there is an artist in the shop who would give you a WAY better tattoo. You're getting the wrong artist to do your tattoo, but had you done your due diligence, you would have walked into the same shop and asked to speak directly to Artist B, you would have spoken to them about your ideas and booked yourself an appointment (if needed) and waited happily for your appointment and you would have left happy and proud of what you are know wearing permanently. But if you didn't do your research you’ll find out too late that, Artist B would have been the right artist, and you’ll blame the shop and the artists for you not fulfilling your own part of the process.
• Tattoo artists like money, and clients hate the word “No”. So too often clients come in with an idea, that for whatever reason is not a good tattoo. A good tattoo needs to take a lot into consideration, the design needs to work on the area of the body and needs to be large enough to not end up bleeding together. They need to be held in with darks, and some body parts heal badly - like fingers, palms, sides of feet, elbows and knees.
• Some artists are better than others at saying "No" to a bad tattoo idea, but sometimes they get forced into doing something they don't want to do, because of shop rules or the clients themselves. No tattoo artist says no for fun, so when an artist is saying “No” - there’s good reason, A bad tattoo has their name on it, and regardless of WHY it’s bad, it’s bad.
• Sometimes a client leaves unhappy with a great tattoo - because it isn't what they wanted. Sometimes they get talked into a style they didn't want. They didn't understand what an artist was explaining, they didn't look at portfolios, they didn't communicate their ideas well or they just didn't really know what they wanted. Sometimes a tattoo artist is great at talking a client into believing they are more capable, or sometimes - the tattoo is just not exactly they way they imagined.
• Many times, we have had a client walk in with an idea that doesn't translate from idea to tattoo well, and we've tried to explain WHY but the client is set on their idea. The artist is then damned if they do it and damned if they change the tattoo to be a 'better' tattoo.
• Now the issue is that sometimes you see a design you love, and the stencil is perfect, it gets placed on you and you couldn't be happier- so you start getting the tattoo, but when it’s done, it's nothing like it was supposed to be - that's because your artist didn't have the right skill set to do that tattoo well. You, the client could prevent this by looking for tattoos with similar attributes to what you want, for example - if you want a realistic flower, look for photos of other things with no lines, and realistic details. Always look through their work and see their consistency, ask for healed photos, read reviews and ask every question you need too.
Regardless of skill or talent, at the end of the day, YOU choose your artist, they didn't force you to trust them, they didn't hold a gun to your head.
You made the choice to trust their word and that, is on you as a client.
If your first question is "How Much" or you strictly price shop, if you decided to push an artist into an idea they are clearly uncomfortable with, or simply wouldn't take no for an answer or just wouldn't wait, your bad tattoo, is your fault.
Please stop blaming good artists for pieces you don't like.
Stop thinking that all artist's are created equal.
A tattoo is on you for life, do your research, talk to many artists, talk to your friends, read reviews, visit the shop or just scroll through Instagram!
Please don't be one of those people who blame an artist for doing their job, because it’s not their fault you paid them. This is the one time it doesn't matter how GOOD they are, if you didn't do your job and allowed them to do theirs, that's on you. Literally.
5. PORTFOLIOS - almost every artist has a portfolio online now, so when you see an artist you enjoy, you can easily look through their work, find out where they're located and get a good idea of what they specialize in, and how consistent their work is, and consistency is so important, because if you're spending money and expecting a tattoo to look a certain way, and your chosen artist isn't consistent... you may not get what you're expecting... PRO TIP: if you see an artist online and they have portraits and ultra realistic large tattoos, they probably won't do script or if an artist only has black and grey pieces, they probably won't do colour. Now, that's not always true and it can't hurt to ask but if an artist doesn't put it in their portfolio - there's a reason, either they don't like to do it, or wont or they aren't good at it. PRO TIP: if an artist doesn't have any portraits in their portfolio, don't trust them to do a portrait! The smallest mistake in a portrait of your mom and she isn't your mom anymore.
4. THE SHOP - it won't matter how great an artist is, if their shop is dirty or makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason, chances are - you won't have a good experience. Some shops are open concept, and encourage clients to chat and mingle, some shops have private tattoo rooms for clients and their artists, some shops are uptight and more professional and some are more laid back, make sure you enjoy the atmosphere, there isn't a right or wrong - it's whatever you enjoy. I personally enjoy a open concept shop with laid back artists and a sense of humour.
3. NEVER PRICE SHOP - I can't stress this enough, but a tattoo is for life, and yeah coverups exist but a coverup will never be as good as a well done tattoo the first time! If a tattoo costs you $1000, if you break down the cost of that over the rest of your life (let's say 50 years for sake of argument) is $20 a year. PRO TIP: if you have a budget, always let the artist know what you can afford and they should be able to tell you what they could do with how much you can afford, or they can at least let you know, honestly that they aren't able to achieve the results you want with the budget. PRO TIP: the hourly price is not the only thing you should consider, some artists have a high hourly rate because they tattoo quickly and vice versa. Always ask how long they usually take to do something similar.
2. DON'T GET BULLIED BUT DON'T IGNORE PROFESSIONAL ADVICE - there is a fine line with getting what you want and getting the best tattoo, sometimes an artist doesn't like your idea and will try to coerce you into a design you're not happy with - don't give in, this is on you for life and if an artist won't work with you on things that are important to you - find another artist. BUT sometimes an artist genuinely is trying to suggest ways that will give you a better tattoo, or be trying to get you to simplify (a tattoo including 6 butterflies, 4 types of flowers, your 6 kids names, their birthstones and your family tree with your grandma's pearl necklace and your mom's favourite song's lyrics may work as a full back piece, but won't work on your foot, for example) so sometimes listening to your artist's professional opinion is a good idea, but in the end - it's your design and if you feel like the artist isn't respecting your choices - then maybe they're not the artist for you.
1. TRUST YOUR GUT, THEN TRUST YOUR ARTIST - I can't stress this enough, once you've gone to the shop, met your artist, chatted to them and decided to put down the deposit - trust them and respect them. They're human and they will try their best but sometimes your ideas and their vision of it, may not always be perfect at first try, so be honest with them and help them not get frustrated. Be specific in exactly what you like and give constructive feedback if you want something changed, but always be respectful and try and say it as soon as possible so they don't spent hours on something you hate. Respect that you are 1 client out of hundreds, and while you're excited and want it now, that you are among the ranks of every other client of theirs, so don't waste their time, don't change your mind every 5 minutes, don't be late, don't message them every day, don't message them at midnight unless you are dying and just try to be patient. A good artist - is a busy artist, and trust me when I say - we go home with our work, we don't work a 9-5 but we don't get paid unless we are tattooing, and just because you're spending $160/hour doesn't mean they are going home with that in their pocket.
10. Find an artist you enjoy this is actually super important, if you have an artist you can chat too, joke with and just feel comfortable with, you are going to enjoy the tattoo so much more and it's going to make the pain easier, as you will have someone around to distract you.
9. Trust your artist no one enjoys a back seat driver and the artist will thank you for not micromanaging every step of the process. There's a reason they are professional and remember they designed the piece, letting them do their vision - almost always gets you a better finished product.
8. Don't go on Pinterest seriously. if you want a tattoo to commemorate something or to inspire you daily, talk to your artist and work with them to figure out something unique and custom made for you. having the same tattoo as everyone else, isn't nearly as awesome as something drawn to fit your body.
7. Get a good night's sleep & Eat a good meal & Don't drink the night before everything affects how a tattoo feels, and how a tattoo heals. I've had tattoos that were small and in places that should have been super easy, but due to not being hydrated or eating before or not getting 8 hours of sleep, have made them awful and way more painful.
6. Find the right artist not every artist is good at everything, and thats fine! find the artist who enjoys the style you're getting, is excited or at least into your idea and listen to them when they're giving you advice or an opinion. There is nothing wrong with getting tattooed by different artists, and if an artist says otherwise, run!
5. Triple check the spelling/translations/dates we can't stress this one enough. we have no idea how your sister's name is spelled, or when your mom was born and we definitely don't speak every language and google translate is not the most reliable. Ask for your family or friends to double check, make sure you read the dates over to make sure 06/04/05 is actually not 04/05/06 and find someone who actually speaks/writes the language before you commit. fixing these mistakes is almost always difficult and often - impossible.
4. Think about it we mean really, think about it. they're permanent and doing it right the first time is always less expensive and you will never be as happy with a cover up as a good tattoo done on fresh skin. another huge thing is, think about the future. how will this effect your job, promotions, family etc.
3. Don't jam 100 ideas into one tattoo if you want to get a fairy with your kid's birthdates, and your mom's rosary, and your dad's birthstone, with lyrics to your favourite song and your husband's favourite number all in one tattoo, maybe you pick 1 or 2 ideas per one tattoo, tattoos always look better when they are thought out, logical and kept simple. now if you're doing a back piece or full sleeve or leg sleeve, then maybe we can make everything work, but a 6" tattoo on your forearm is definitely not the best idea.
2. ALWAYS LOOK AT PORTFOLIOS don't ever believe that because someone says they are capable of the portrait of your mom, that they are ACTUALLY capable of it. If they're portfolios don't show experience in that style or consistency - find someone else.
1. Don't price shop good tattoos don't have to break the bank but like the saying goes "good tattoos aren't cheap, cheap tattoos aren't good" A tattoo is on your for life, don't try and save $40 - you'll spend a lot more covering it up or removing it later.
BONUS PRO TIP check out healed photos of the artists work. Healed photos show how your tattoo will look, and the difference from fresh to healed can be huge.