For centuries, perhaps for longer than we know, tattoos have belonged to those on the fringes of society. They adorned pirates who sail the mysterious waters of the uncharted seas, gypsies who forsook the normalcy of steady work and calling the same spot home every night, people who did not conform to the way everyone else lived.
Tattoos are often associated with bikers, gang members, carnival freaks, prisoners and rock stars. Individuals perceived to fall into categories for which there is no place in the status quo. Are they the ones being rejected, or are they rejecting the restrictive, binding mold that many think everyone should fit in?
The 1960s brought about a series of social revolutions. The civil rights movement was coming to a boil, and women were carving out their place in the world. People not only became more aware of the flaws in their government and social structure, but were moved in mass numbers to do something to make them better. Tattooing became a little more mainstream because it moved people away from the norm in a time when the social structure was increasingly unpopular.
In recent year, people are getting tattoos to fit in rather than to opt out, but some of the stigma remains. Information is the key to abolishing prejudices of all kinds.
Take some time to review a few of the most frequently asked questions regarding tattooing.
Q: Does it hurt?
A: Well, it doesn’t tickle. A needle is being repeatedly stuck in your skin, sometimes for hours. Most people aren’t bothered by the discomfort enough not to get the tattoo. Of course, pain tolerance varies greatly from on person to the next, and placement of the design also makes a difference. Boney spots usually hurt more than fleshy spots.
Q: How long does it take?
A: That depends on many things: the size and amount of detail involved in the design, how long you’re able to sit at a time and the tattooist’s schedule. If your design is large or very detailed, you may have to break it up into several visits.
Q: Will I be more comfortable if I have a couple of drinks first?
A: Absolutely not. Blaming a goofy tat on inebriation is probably just an excuse. Most tattoo shops won’t even work with you if you’ve been drinking. Unless you’re passed out cold, (and maybe even if you are) drunks tend not to hold still very well. Alcohol makes you bleed more than you would otherwise. The excessive bleeding is unhealthy and may keep the ink from depositing into your skin correctly, and sometimes not at all. Besides, getting a tattoo is an experience; don’t you want to remember it?
Q: What’s the least expensive tattoo I can get?
A: Don’t be silly; would you trust a doctor who would take out your tonsils for a $5 bill? Of course you wouldn’t. That tat will be with you for the rest of your life.
Treat it like an investment. Choose your tattooist and design base on quality, cleanliness and professionalism, not how much cash you happen to be carrying at the time. It will save you from making an impulsive decision.
Q: How long does it take to heal?
A: Usually a couple of weeks if everything goes well and you take care of it properly. You have to leave the bandage on for at least a few hours, and wash the area with mild soap and water immediately after removing the covering. If you can’t wash right away, leave the gauze on until you can. Always pat the tat dry, never rub. DO NOT pick at your scabs. Do you WANT to get an infection? Always keep a fresh tattoo moisturized. Your tattooist should be able to recommend a great product for that.
Now you have a little more information, but these questions are just a jumping off place. There are many books on the subject if you need to know more, or make an appointment with the artist you’re considering to ask questions before you actually make up your mind.