michelle and howard

Debunking the Taboo: Tattoos

More by Michael Borecki - 5/16


kay so you want to get a tattoo.  Just the word “tattoo” brings to mind all kinds of imagery and strikes fear into the hearts of many parents.  However, getting a tattoo is not as taboo as it used to be, and this article will try to clear up and guide you through the process of getting one.  

The first step is understanding the Connecticut state laws about tattoos.  If you are a minor-as most of the student population at Darien High School is-you must provide a consent form from a parent/guardian and even better, the presence of one as well. Don’t use a fake ID for this kind of thing, it’s a dumb idea. If you are eighteen, you must bring in a state ID to prove it. If you want to get tattooed in New York City, it’s a different story.  First of all, you cannot  be tattooed if you are a minor even if your parent/guardian consents and is present.  You must be eighteen to be tattooed and must provide a state ID.  I forgot my ID the first time and even though my mom was with me (the ultimate form of ID), I was not legally allowed to be tattooed; professional and legitimate tattoo parlors are very strict about this.  

Next, do your research! Seriously, a tattoo is permanent and you want it be exactly what you want.  Find a place that can do what you are proposing, get in contact, ask questions, and really look into the safety and rating of the parlor.  Hygiene is CRUCIAL and you want to be somewhere professional, safe, and legitimate. I got tattooed at FineLine in New York City after I spent days researching and combing through various parlors. I had a great experience there and highly recommend it to anyone interested.  

Also important: different parlors have different kinds of artists with different specialities.  Find a place that has an artist who can do what you want done.  Most places have a set of stencils so that anyone can walk-in and get one done.  If you are thinking about an original design,  you’ll want/have to schedule a meeting first to describe to the artist what you want your design to look like.  Usually custom made designs will take a few days or even a week for the artist to develop.  

Now, the big question: does it hurt? My experience was really comfortable and I felt little pain.  But keep in mind that tattooing is having someone stick a needle in your skin and poke holes for ink to go in (sorry: graphic, but necessary).  The larger and more intricate the design, the more it will hur t. On FineLine's website under FAQ, they describe that getting a tattoo hurts"but not as much as you want it to".  It was also described as feeling like a cat was lightly scratching your skin (if you've ever experienced that I guess).  If you are afraid of needles and/or have a low pain tolerance, maybe a tattoo isn’t the best option.  But you can always distract yourself! Bring a friend, listen to music, or talk to the artist to keep your mind off of what is going on.  Side note, it is against most (if not all) parlor’s policies to be tattooed while under the influence of alcohol or any illicit substance or substance that may hinder judgement.

As for price, most places do the pricing by how long it takes to complete the tattoo. There may be an additional cost if it’s an original design.  As Fineline says on its website, “tips are never expected, but always accepted!”,  so while it is not necessary it is a kind thing to do.

Now, if you have all of this set up and you are committed you also must understand how to care for a new tattoo.  Most tattoo parlors will describe how to care for new tattoos on their websites and your tattoo artist will likely run through the basics with you as well.  Keep in mind that like most things in this world, everyone has a different opinion, so different tattoo artists may have different tips and ways to care for new tattoos.

After you are tattooed, the artist will put a bandage over the area where your tattoo is.  This is to be kept on for 2-4 hours and if you are in a city or planning on being out and about, keep it on until you are home for good. You will need to wash your tattoo three times a day with warm water and antibacterial soap ( something like softsoap).  Don’t freak out if excess ink comes out, it’s normal.  To dry, dab gently (dab as in blot with a paper towel not as in the dance move) until dry.  You will need to moisturize area with skin lotion (aquaphor is amazing) six times a day; try to never let the tattoo dry out completely as not only does aquaphor keep out bacteria, it also helps the healing process by preventing scabbing and itchiness.

 Ideally, if you follow these instructions you will prevent infection and also will keep the peeling to a minimum (peeling will happen, it is part of the healing process).

And there you have it! Pretty straightforward I hope. Now get out there and get tattooed (if you want).