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Visit these other humorous sites by Marjorie Dorfman:

Eat, Drink and
Really Be Merry

Home Is Where
the Dirt Is

Middle Age
and Other Mistakes

Don't Tech Me In

What's New, Emu?

Laughing Matters Ink

I Was Absent

Copyright © 2001, 2002, 2003
All rights reserved.
Tattoo: Graffiti or Art Form
by Marjorie Dorfman

page 2

But what about the tattoo industry today? In 1998, thirty five per cent of National Basketball Association players had tattoos. Now well over fifty percent of them bear tattoos and according to The Christian Science Monitor, the number of Americans with tattoos is as high as 15 per cent. In body contact sports, such as basketball and football, there a much higher percentage of tattooed players than in "cerebral" sports, such as baseball, golf or tennis. Still, how can you find the right one safely and happily? Much thought should go into your choice. Sometimes questions like, "what do I aspire to?’ and "what gives me strength?" can teach you things about yourself that you might not have even wanted to know in the first place. Perhaps a custom tattoo, something created just for you is your bag. Or maybe you will find a "flash design" hanging on the studio wall that you love. In general, a big, bold image looks better on skin than an overly detailed small piece.

Whichever way you go, make sure the artist you choose has had formal art training and has served a rigorous apprenticeship. Beware the "scratcher", who usually works from home or the back room of a bar and rarely bothers to sterilize his instruments or change needles between customers. The tattoo artist’s studio should be as clean as your doctor or dentist’s office. If it isn’t, run for your life or at least for the life of your new tattoo! Everything used to apply your tattoo should be disposed of afterwards. Vaseline and ointments should be applied with disposable spreaders, not a swipe of the tattooist’s fingers. You should also ask to see samples of the artist’s work before you decide that he or she will etch a permanent design on your skin. There is an expression within the industry worth remembering: "You get the tattoo you deserve." This translates into proceed at your own risk and look before you leap, even though he who hesitates is lost and usually counts his chickens before they hatch.
tattooed guy
There are many different tattoo styles. Black and white "gray work" originated in the prison systems of America because of the difficulty of procuring colored ink. It is popular today because of its refined and highly detailed nature. Traditional pieces bear bold, black outlines and strong shading. The "Fineline" technique is characterized by delicate, highly detailed outlines. The success of the finished product depends greatly upon the artist’s use of negative space. An overly intricate fine line tattoo may dissolve into mush after a few years. "Tribal" tattoos contain bold, black, silhouetted designs. Much of this work is based on ancient motifs. The "Realistic" style usually depicts portraits or scenes from nature. "Oriental" tattoos are more concerned with approach rather than subject matter and utilize the entire body as canvas (like our demented fellow mentioned above in paragraph one.) Oriental designs usually incorporate swirling patterns and figures from eastern mythology.

Once you get your tattoo, it’s yours in more ways than one. It might help to think of it as a new puppy that requires all of your attention. It must be fed (with healing ointments) given water (kept clean) and walked (exposed to the air). Unlike a puppy however, YOU MUST NOT SCRATCH IT, NO MATTER HOW MUCH IT BEGS! The skin in the area will be a bit irritated and sensitive and the best advice is to leave the bandage on for exactly the amount of time specified by the tattooist. Do not peek. You have a lifetime to view your new acquisition and don’t forget what happened to the curious cat. Never soak your new tattoo. Consider it an open wound that requires care and common sense.

A tattoo is a personal statement that may have unexpected repercussions and getting rid of one can be more expensive than putting one on. (Just like getting divorced usually costs more than getting married!) If your spouse ran off with your neighbor, you may no longer want that lovely image upon your person and it may be time to consider removal options (if you are not planning to remove your neighbor, that is.) A cover-up may be a better solution, but it is demanding and exacting work and you will pay more for one than you would for the same tattoo applied to virgin skin. A tattoo can also be reworked or enhanced. (Consider the man who reworked the face of his ex wife into the image of a crazed demon that still bore an amazing resemblance to his former bride.) Laser can be used to remove almost any tattoo and it is a relatively painless procedure. Unfortunately, it is very expensive and must be done by a plastic surgeon. Dermabrasion and chemical peels have also been utilized, which can be compared to having the unwanted image sandpapered off your skin.

tattooed Whatever you do, think before you ink. The skin you save may be your own. Try those temporary tattoos and live with them for a while before you make up your mind. The few people I know who have tattoos (I admit there aren’t many), seem to regard them as "indiscretions of their youth." Who knows if they will ever rue the day they inked them? Are tattoos art form or graffiti? Well, who’s to say? Many things are relative and beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. Either way, tattoos are powerful reminders of permanent decisions. If you decide to get one, I suggest that you do not bring your mother along. She will only try to talk you out of it, unless, of course, it’s Winston’s mom, Jenny Churchill!

Did you know . . .

Dragon Tattoos
Great site for images of tattoos, for Dragon and Tribal Tattoo designs and for history of tattooing.

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