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Tattooing Laws to Change in Florida

Proposed Tattoo Law Changes in Florida
Putting Lover's Names on Your Body
This Tattoo Studio is not Wally World
So You're Thinking of Getting Your First Tattoo?
I'm 15 Years Old and I Want a Tattoo Now!
Is It Possible To Get A Painless Tattoo?
The Biggest Tattoo Trap and How To Avoid It
How Can We Control Illegal Tattooing?
Trends In Tattooing - White Tattoos - What's The Scoop?
Where Is The Least Painful Place To Get A Tattoo?
Why "Small" Doesn't Make a Great Tattoo
Why Don't We Let Children and/or Babies in Our Studio

Florida Tattoo Artists Required to be Licensed in 2012

Well, it's about time!!
The law passed today and finally Florida Tattoo Artists will be on equal footing with artists in 48 other states. Only New Mexico and North Dakota are still not requiring tattoo artists to be licensed before they can practice their craft.
The bill: CS/HB 729 for the Practice of Tattooing is a general bill by the Health Care Regulation Policy Committee and was sponsored by Brandenburg and Schwartz.
It reads thus:
Practice of Tattooing: Prohibits practice of tattooing except by person licensed or registered by the Department of Health; provides for licensure of tattoo artists and temporary registration of guest tattoo artists licensed in jurisdictions outside of state; requires tattoo artists to complete DOH-approved education course & pass; examination; exempts certain personnel who perform tattooing for medical or dental purposes from regulation under specified provisions; requires licensure of permanent tattoo establishments and temporary establishments; provides practice requirements for tattoo artists, guest tattoo artists, tattoo establishments, & temporary establishments; reguires DOH to inspect establishments at specified intervals; provides for fees for initial licensure or registration and renewal or reactivation thereof; authorizes adjustment of fees according to inflation or deflation; specifies acts that constitute grounds for which DOH may take disciplinary action; provides penalties for certain violations involving practice of tattooing; prohibits tattooing of minor child except under certain circumstances; provides that specified provisions do not preempt certain local laws and ordinances.
Effective date: January 1, 2012.

Well that was a mouthfull!
First question: Why wait so long to put this into effect? I can understand that it will require time to acquire the necessary personnel to do the inspections, but most tattoo studios already undergo DOH inspections because they offer piercing. I can also understand that it will take time to develop the training required and the tests that will have to be administered. But, of course, what most likely will happen is that this state will simply copy the training and tests of another state that is already successfully licensing tattoo artists.

Second question: What is a temporary establishment? Are they referring to flea markets? Most tattoo artists in this state would like to see those establishments go away, because in general the quality of the work is quite poor, and they are sneaking around a lot of the fees and licenses an established location is required to pay and obtain.

Third question: What happened to tattooing minors between the ages of 16 - 18? Currently, it is accepted practice for a quality studio to tattoo and pierce minors between 16 - 18 with a notarized, signed statement from the parent or legal guardian of the minor. When will this issue be addressed with clarity and detail? There are, of course, many studios who routinely break this custom by tattooing and piercing just about anyone of any age and simply do not fill out any paperwork on the service. So, with no record of the procedure, they can disclaim the fact that they actually did the service on a minor. It breaks down to the minor's word against the studio owner/worker.

Fourth question: How much of this law will get clarified or changed before it actually goes into effect? Not being a politician or law maker, I don't know the whole process that will take place between now and 01-01-2012, but I suspect there is plenty of time for amendments and changes.

The only body in Florida that is looking out for tattoo artists in this state that I know of is the Florida Tattoo Artist's Guild. Mark Longnecker is the president and it will be interesting to see what statements come out of that group to do with this new law. Hope we hear something soon!
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Florida’s First Comprehensive Tattoo Law “Inked” by Florida Senate

TALLAHASSEE – Sen. Eleanor Sobel’s (D-Hollywood) efforts to establish statewide standards for Florida’s tattoo industry succeeded in the late hours of the last day of the 2010 Session as the Senate followed the lead of the House and passed HB 729, based on the bill spearheaded by Sobel for the past two years.

This landmark legislation creates comprehensive rules and licensing procedures for tattoo artists and tattoo establishments.  The bill will improve consumer safety by requiring aspiring tattoo artists to take courses in proper needle use and disposal, which will lead to a reduction in Hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases.  The bill also allows for state inspection of tattoo parlors and provides that licenses must be renewed yearly.  The Florida Professional Tattoo Artist Guild supports these regulations, saying it appreciates the chance to distinguish to the public their upstanding members from underground artists who engage in less-than-reputable practices.

“This legislation is the result of an across-the-board cooperative effort among the tattoo artists, the medical community, and my House partner Rep. Mary Brandenburg; all of these parties have been vital in crafting this necessary legislation. Our hard work has resulted in a new set of standards which will benefit both the industry and the consumer,” said Sen. Sobel.

The bill is now on the Governor’s desk, awaiting his signature.

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Putting lovers names on your body

Well, today, I had to do it again, cover up another name on someone's body.
When will people realize that there are lots of ways to prove to someone that you love them without having to have their name permanently inked on your body?

In my business, it is pretty common knowledge that doing that jinxes the relationship.
And, if you must do it, please, please, please do not do it in black ink!
Generally, the only thing that covers black well is more black.
At my studio, we will always ask the client if they would please consider doing the name in blue, or green, or red, because this is so much easier to find something suitable to cover it up with when the time comes, as it invariably does.

A girl comes in and proudly shows me this black blob on her hip with small spikey things sticking out of it. Oh, she says, it's a cover up of a name. Like I couldn't tell that right off the bat. And what does she have right above it? Another name in black!

And, why put writing on your body at all? Writing belongs in books, on blackboards, on signs, on blogs. Not on the human body. Tattoos are visual representations - pictures. Writing does not make a good looking tattoo and no body, let me repeat that, NOBODY reads it! It doesn't make a good looking tattoo no matter what you do to it. The current trend in tattooing is writing on the body. Why is this?
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A High Quality Tattoo Studio is not Wally World Mart

It happens almost every day. Someone comes in with some really bad work on them. Their comments tell me they 'cheaped' out and went to a flea market, someone's house, a tattoo party. Someone told them they were a great tattoo artist. Obviously not true if they are coming to me to have me 'fix' it or cover it up.
First the 'fix'. A lot depends on how bad it is. Shakey lines, poor line work can usually be fixed. Having the design face the wrong way, poor quality overall, blown out lines, poor design, poor execution of the design, cannot in a lot of cases be fixed. You're stuck with it, unless we can find something appropriate to cover it up.
Second, the cover up. We are not WallyWorld Mart. It's not like going in, picking out a pair of flip flops or belt and dashing to the cash register, paying and leaving. When you have something to cover up, you cannot usually pick anything you want to cover it up with. And it is not an instant process. Only dark covers dark. Light colors cannot cover dark colors. All tattoo ink is translucent to a certain degree. It is not opaque. And it is not 'paint'.
This is why the color of your skin affects how the color is perceived once it is in your skin.

Two things to remember about cover ups.
1. You can have it removed or lightened and have a wider choice of what covers it. We offer a process using a clay based media by Rejuvi Labs (
www.rejuvilabs.com) that we have been using successfully for 5+ years. It is tattooed into the skin, binds with the ink in the skin, and pulls it out during the healing process. This is not a one time fix. It takes 6 to 10 treatments to totally remove a tattoo. But with just 3 - 4 treatments a tattoo can be lightened enough to usually put a much nicer tattoo over the bad one and then you have a wider choice of what you can use for a cover up. It costs $200 for a 2 oz. bottle and that will do about 4" x 4" area. That's a pretty large scab to put up with for the healing, so we suggest limiting the removal area to about 2-3" by 2-3" for each session. It will heal on the surface in about 15 - 20 days and about 2 months are needed between treatments because the skin underneath needs to be totally healed before additional applications are applied. Otherwise you risk serious scarring. It costs less than laser, doesn't hurt near as much as laser and doesn't change skin color or kill hair follicles like laser can. This is a 'best choice' for getting rid of poor quality work and putting something on your skin that you really like.

2. The second thing is that you can pick a design that uses dark areas to cover the existing design. That means if you pick a butterfly to cover a name, the butterfly will need to be shaded out deeply to cover the letter shapes underneath. Depending upon the size of the name and the size of the butterfly, there can certainly be bright colors in the new tattoo, but only in the areas that do not actually overlay the letter shapes. Designing a coverup is an expert skill that takes years to develop to a point that good designs can be successfully used over existing low quality work. When a cover up is designed, first we want to break the silhouette of what is underneath. Second we want to redirect the focal point of the design. These two skills are necessary to do a successful coverup. Because of all these factors, getting a cover up is not like going into Wally World Mart and picking something off the shelf and dashing off to pay for it. Developing good coverups takes time, talent, and patience. Clients need to realize that in this instant gratification society that we now live in, that cover ups do now fall in this category at all. They need to take their time, have realistic expectations, and be willing to work with their artist to find the best choice that comes as close as possible to suiting their wants in the cover up design, but also realize that the artist must make artistic choices about how well the chosen artwork will actually cover up and hide what is underneath it.

Best advice? Don't skimp when getting a tattoo. Don't settle for who offers the cheapest price. There is usually a reason why they are cheap, it's because it's less than the best quality. And once it's on your skin, it's there pretty much forever unless you opt for laser or our Rejuvi process.

Coverups are difficult. For the client, because they have to settle for something that is not usually their first choice. For the tattoo artist, because clients have unrealistic expectations and do not fully realize what is involved in designing an appropriate cover up that will reflect well on the artist's skill.

One client I worked on recently was on their third cover up! A really poorly done panther was covered by a lion's head. The lion's head used the mane to cover the panther, but you could still see the panther. So, another design of a jungle scene was designed to cover both the panther and the lion's mane, the final design now is interesting, well executed, and is unique because it was designed just for this particular client. The lion's face looks out of the jungle and the whole piece looks like it was planned from the beginning to be what it now is.

Now that's a high quality cover up. It took approximately a week to work out a design that was appropriate, sized, and the client liked it. It took about 3 hours to execute.

So, before you get a tattoo, check references and portfolios of the tattoo artist you are going to trust with your skin, and make wise decisions about what you get on your skin. Names of lovers is a bad idea. Unskilled tattoo artists with cut rate prices are a bad idea. Flea markets, people's houses, tattoo parties are bad ideas.

THINK BEFORE YOU INK!!
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So you’re thinking of getting your first tattoo?

 Here are some points to consider . . . .

Are you a bargain shopper? Bargain shopping for something that will be on your body for the rest of your life is a B-A-D idea.

Your friend, neighbor, etc. might be able to cut you a better price that visiting a reputable tattoo shop, but how do you know they aren’t re-using needles from other tattoos they’ve done? How do you know if they are thoroughly cleaning everything they or their last customer touched before you? Do you know how many diseases once caught, can never be cured? Things like HIV, Hepatitis C, MRSA, some of the new viral strains that are resistant to every single medicine available today?

And what about their training? Do you know that every single tattoo artist working in a shop has undergone a year or more of professional training at a cost of $5,000 or more before they are allowed to touch human skin with a tattoo machine? There’s a reason for this. It takes a lot of practice to know how deep into the skin to place tattoo ink so it will stay where it’s supposed to. Too shallow, and the ink falls out during the healing process. Too deep, and ink can migrate causing spider-webbing or dark shadows around the edges of your tattoo.

Professional tattoo artists are trained to help advise you on picking the right design for placement on your body where you want it. That neighbor, friend, etc. usually doesn’t have a clue about helping you get a tattoo that you’ll be proud to wear in the years to come.

Things like – “Oh, I want it on my hand,” or “It’s gotta be on my neck,” are common requests tattoo artists get. But, will that friend, neighbor, etc. tell you to consider what you might be doing in 10 years? At Addicted 2 Tattoos, we often get the sob story, “I want to go into the military or law enforcement, and they won’t take me with this stuff on my hands, face, neck, etc.

 You just can’t be too careful when you decide you don’t want to be an ‘ink virgin’ anymore.

 Another scenario we get is: “I’ve just got to have this tattoo on my lower back”, called a ‘tramp stamp' in the industry. But, will that friend, neighbor, etc. working out of their home or a low class shop tell you that getting that tattoo on your lower back means when it’s time to give birth, you can’t get an epidural (shot that numbs you from the waist-down to make child birth easier,) because the doctor is worried about pushing tattoo ink into your spinal fluid and will refuse to give it to you when you need it most?

There’s a lot to consider before getting your first tattoo . . . . this is just the tip of the iceburg. In future articles, many other subjects will be covered, so keep your eyes open for the next article!

Come into the shop for your personal consultation and we’ll tell you lots more as well as looking out for your best interest.

 If you have comments on this article, please feel free to email them via the form on our web site. © , Addicted2Tattoos, All rights reserved.

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I’m 15 Years Old and I Want A Tattoo Now!

Question: I’m 15 and I want to get a tattoo, what do I need to do?

Answer: In the state of Florida it is legal for a 16 year old to get a tattoo. But, not without notarized consent of the young person’s legal parent or guardian. The state requires that this notarized consent be on a form provided by the studio of choice and it is not acceptable for one form to be taken at another studio. Each studio must put their studio name on the form and the form is only acceptable at that particular studio. The young person is not legally able to enter into a contract, therefore the required studio paperwork must be completed by the parent or legal guardian who is of the proper age to enter into a legally binding contract. Studio paperwork is a contract for services. The parent or legal guardian’s identification must be copied and included with the binding service contract.

Many studios will not tattoo someone under the age of 16 because the studio’s liability insurance prohibits it. If the child insists on getting a tattoo and drags you to a flea market or other place where no paperwork is required, they are doing you and your child a disservice.

15 year olds are still growing. Most don’t stop growing until the age of 25. Imagine that the child is now 4’ 11”. By 25 they’ve grown to 6’ 3”. Can you picture what that cute little bunch of stars will look like at 25 when they have more than doubled their height, weight and skin volume? Not a pretty picture.

15 year olds are notorious for being sporadic in caring for a tattoo during the healing process. They tend to not wash them often enough, they tend to touch them with dirty hands, they tend to not listen to or follow the instructions given to them by the tattoo artist, and they tend to get more infections because of the previous reasons. Some infections can be life threatening or require hospitalization.

15 years olds are known to be incessant in their quest for their first tattoo. Getting a tattoo is an adult decision and an adult responsibility. 15 year olds are not adults. Many parents need to stand up to their children and just say no. When the child reaches the age of 18, they are free to get a tattoo legally in Florida. There are many good reasons why this is the law.

If you see your 15 year old with a permanent tattoo, you should find out where they got it and go see the artist. Ask for the paperwork the child signed. If no paperwork is on record, the child broke the rules and should have their privileges revoked for a time as punishment. The artist should strongly consider checking ID’s before tattooing anyone, regardless of how old they look. Don’t let the almighty dollar rule your actions, the consequences could be quite severe.

If your 15 year old is trying to tattoo themselves, stop them. Homemade tattoo machines are not safe. Substitutes for professional quality tattoo inks can be deadly. Getting a poorly done tattoo removed can be costly and painful as well as leave permanent scars. Most 15 year olds are not thinking about what they might be doing in 5-10-15 years down the line. Those letters on their knuckles might be ‘cool’ now, but what about when they are in a professional working environment? It might very well keep them from getting the job they want or advancing in the career field of their choice. It’s certain they will not be accepted into any branch of the military or law enforcement.

So, if you’re 15 and you’re dying to get your first tattoo, please wait. We have all been 15 one time in our lives. We’re not kidding when we advise you to wait, we have many good reasons for denying you your first tattoo at 15. Some of the reasons are here, quite a few are not. Temporary tattoos are a fun way to try out looks and placement for tattoos. Try them for a while. You’ll get a feel for what looks good on your skin, and you’ll make better choices when you are old enough to legally get a tattoo by making up your own mind.

 If you have comments on this article, please feel free to email them via the form on our web site. © , Addicted2Tattoos, All rights reserved.

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Is It Possible To Get A Painless Tattoo?

Some tattoo artists will say no. Others will say yes. There are many factors to consider when getting a tattoo and obviously the amount of pain you must go through for that tattoo will vary.

Old school tattoo artists are of the mind, that you must earn your tattoo with the pain you go through to get the tattoo. This is a pretty outdated way of thinking.

Many factors play into how much a tattoo will hurt. One important factor is where the tattoo will be located on your body. Areas such as the outer arms, outer legs, upper back and upper chest are not very painful for tattooing. Other areas such as the lower back, inside the arms, or legs, near elbows and knees, along the spine, along the ribs, the lower front torso are all considered to be more painful areas. The feet and ankles are definitely more painful than other areas. This applies also to inside the wrist and hands.

Another factor is how well you tolerate pain. Women are built to take pain better than men, because women are designed to give birth. This makes a normal woman’s pain tolerance usually higher than a man’s. Women who have given birth usually tolerate pain better than women who have not been through childbirth.

Additionally, if you already have several tattoos, you know what to expect and have become more immune to the feeling of getting a tattoo because you have had the opportunity to feel what it feels like to get a tattoo and now you can convince your body that the pain is not that bad, because you’ve survived it before. Those getting their first or second tattoo would be wise to pick smaller designs and put them in less painful areas until they become used to the feeling of having a tattoo needle pierce their skin 3,000 times a minute. But, be careful where those small tattoos go. In the tattoo business, outer arms and upper backs, as well as calves of the legs are considered ‘prime real estate’ and to plant a tiny tattoo in an area that leaves a lot of untouched skin around it tends to make that small tattoo look even smaller. And, if sometime in the future you decide to get a partial or full sleeve or leg piece, you’ve just make it more difficult to design around that tiny tattoo smack dab in the middle of your planned large piece.

On the market today there are several types of deadening agents available. Pre-deadeners usually have Lidocaine, Prilocaine, Benzocaine and/or Tetracaine in them. Pre-deadeners should be applied to cleaned, shaved skin in a thin coat, then seal the area with clear cellophane and taped airtight. The artist applying this pre-deadener is strongly advised to test a small area first to make sure the person receiving the pre-deadener is not going to have a bad reaction to the cream or ointment. Most pre-deadeners take 45 minutes to one hour to become effective and usually last 1 to 2 hours. Most times you can tell it is taking effect when you see a whitish coloring to the treated area making the surrounding areas appear pinker than normal. On darker skin this is harder to observe. If there is any doubt about whether the person will have a reaction to this procedure, make sure to have them discuss it with their doctor before using the product, several cases of reactions have been reported by those who did not follow these guidelines.

These pre-deadeners are available to professional tattoo artists through their tattoo supplier and are not generally available to the public. These pre-deadeners are designed to be used on un-broken skin, meaning before the tattooing process is started.

Once the tattoo has been started, usually after all the outlining is done, another type of deadener is available. It too can contain Lidocaine (5% concentration is the legal limit unless you have a medical license), Benzocaine and/or Tetracaine. Usually this ‘during-the-procedure’ treatment is in liquid, spray form or gel. It can be sprayed on or applied to the skin once the skin is ‘broken’ by the tattoo needle and should also be tested on a small area beforehand to make sure the client will have no adverse reaction. Again, this product is not generally available to the public but can be purchased by a professional tattoo artist working in a licensed studio. This product usually lasts 45 minutes to one hour per application and it is advised not to use the product more than 4 times in one sitting with a client to avoid heart palpitations, and other unpleasant side effects.

Some artists refuse to offer these deadeners saying it will cause the tattoo to heal poorly. Others refuse to offer them because of the cost involved in obtaining them. Most of these deadening products are very expensive for small amounts and because they are sometimes in alcohol or witch hazel bases, they tend to evaporate quickly and don’t have a long shelf life. Clients usually don’t realize that their tattoo artists will talk about the tattoo experience once the client is gone. Tattoo artists have been overheard commenting about what a wimp a client is because they moaned, groaned, complained incessantly, constantly wiggled throughout the whole tattoo. Some artists will charge more for the next tattoo if the client comes back to the same artist for further work, because the artist knows it will be a difficult tattoo to do well due to the constant pain vocalizations of the client, and trying to get a complaining client to sit still. Sitting still is the number one reason some tattoos do not come out well. Talking on the cell phone, bringing children into the studio and paying more attention to them than the tattoo procedure, and poor aftercare are other reasons why a tattoo might not turn out well. But, using deadeners usually doesn’t have any effect on the quality of the tattoo or the healing process afterward.

Some studios will charge up to $100 per application of these deadeners, sort of as a lesson to the client. If you can’t take the heat, then you’ll pay for the privilege. Some clients report that even after several applications, they still get no relief from the deadeners. Sometimes clients mistake the pressure of getting the tattoo with pain and if the client has never had a tattoo without deadeners, then, of course, they have nothing to compare the sensation to. If a studio does offer deadeners, follow the artist’s advice to the letter. If they ask you to pay additionally for the deadeners, don’t quibble; pay what is asked, even if it doesn’t seem reasonable. There are many shops that simply don’t offer any relief, and clients are always free to go to whichever shop they wish. If you do find a shop that offers deadeners, and you feel you really need it, then pay what is asked, and consider tipping the artist more than if no deadeners were used. It takes a lot of extra time for the artist to apply the deadeners properly and extends the total time he/she spends with the client. This means the artist usually has to reschedule other clients or misses out on income from other clients because of the extra time needed to deal with the client wanting deadeners.

If you have any health issues or are taking one or more medications on a regular basis, be sure to check with your doctor before allowing deadeners to be used on you. Be sure to test the deadeners on a small area to check for reaction, this applies to everyone, regardless of their health or medicines taken. Don’t blame the artist if you get no or little relief from the deadeners, it is not the fault of the artist. If you don’t think you can take the pain of getting a tattoo without deadeners, don’t get the tattoo, period. Be prepared for the fact that not all deadeners are alike and not all work the same way on every person. Every person’s perception of pain is different. Some are naturally more pain tolerant. Some have a very low pain threshold.

Is it possible to get a painless tattoo? Yes and no. Now that you have the facts, you get to make up your own mind. If you feel you need it, and are willing to pay extra, call several studios and inquire if it is offered at that studio. If you are already loyal to one artist and would like to try deadeners, ask your artist if they would be willing to use deadeners, then offer to pay for the product in advance and pay for the extra time it takes the artist to correctly apply the deadeners. Most professional tattoo artists make between $100 and $300 per hour, and if they eat up an hour using deadeners on you, don’t cheat your artist out of their expected income. Remember, they CAN make a tattoo hurt more than it needs to!

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 If you have comments on this article, please feel free to email them via the form on our web site. © , Addicted2Tattoos, All rights reserved.

The Biggest Tattoo Trap and How To Escape It Before It’s Too Late!

In this day and economy, we’re always looking for a bargain, and when you’re out for some new ink, it’s no different. We want good value for our hard-earned dollars. So some of us will go to someone who’s just learning to tattoo and get ink from him or her because they’re usually doing it for ‘free’. Some of us will be happy to go to someone’s kitchen, garage, or basement to get a ‘reduced priced’ tattoo and save a few bucks that way. Some of us will go to the local flea market because there’s a tattoo booth there and we feel that we’ll get a bargain by going there. Some of us will even go so far as to buy tattoo equipment and try to do our own tattoo, all in the name of saving a dollar.

But, you need to stop for a few minutes and think about what you’re doing. When you get ink on your body, it’s there forever. Is it going to be something you can show off with pride and make your friends jealous because it’s such a beautiful, interesting, colorful, well-done piece? Or are you going to have to hide it, and when someone does get a look at it, are you always going to have to justify why the piece looks so bad?

I hear things like this: Customer says “I only paid $10 for this, isn’t it great?” My pat answer when I see bad work is “Oh, isn’t that interesting?” I will never say it’s good-looking work when it’s not. But, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and rather than say, “That’s some of the absolutely worst ink work I’ve ever seen.” I’ll instead try to be nice and say “Oh, isn’t that interesting?” So, if you’re in my shop and hear me say that, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m looking at some pretty awful ink work.

This same customer, then usually asks me what I’ll charge to “fix it up”. When I quote anywhere from $100 - $500 to attempt to fix or just go for the complete cover up, I get a reply, usually in a whiny voice, “But I only paid $10 for it!” Yes, I know, that’s why you are in my studio asking me to fix it. Why didn’t you just get that inked on yourself: “But I only paid $10 for it!” Then you wouldn’t have to spend the rest of your life repeating that phrase to everyone who sees your ink that really does look like you only paid $10 for it.

What many people fail to take into consideration is the fact that whatever quality of tattoo work you get, it’s on you forever. Most don’t have the money for laser removal, that most likely will cause scarring, change your skin color, and hurt like hell, plus having to go back over and over again for repeat treatments. I wish you’d thought of that before getting that poor quality permanent ink on your skin.

Why do you think the student doesn’t charge for his work? Because he/she knows they’re not good enough to work in a licensed shop, and so to gain practice, they’d prefer to mess up your skin while they learn. A student will never, ever give you as good ink as a professional can. Why do you think that person working out of their home charges so much less than a professional tattoo studio? Again, because if they were good enough, certainly they would be working in a professional studio under supervision and health department guidelines. Do you really think they use a brand new needle each time they work on someone? Do you think they take the same precautions with your health as a professional studio would? Do you really think they aren’t high or drunk when they’re working on you? And if so, what does that say about the quality of that forever after work they’re putting on you? If their work doesn’t land you in the hospital with a life-threatening infection or get you an incurable disease, you’re lucky. But, what you are left with on your skin is not luck. It is sub-standard and again, you’ll spend the rest of your life explaining why the work is not up to professional standards. Or pay hundreds of dollars trying to fix or cover it up.

Going to the flea market is no bargain either. You might think you’re getting a deal when you sit down in their chair, but chances are, they’re cutting corners to give you that bargain price. Do you actually see them open a brand new, sterile needle in front of you? Do you see them dispose of it properly in a red, biohazard, plastic container after each customer? Do you see them open a sterilized barrel that holds the needle in the tattoo machine? Are they using the highest quality inks they can get? Probably not. Are they following all essential health department guidelines, like using hot, running water to wash their hands before and after each tattoo? Are they using industry-standard cleaning agents that actually do kill AIDS, HIV, Staph, and all the other diseases a professional tattoo artist is trained to kill by using hospital grade disinfectants? Again, probably not. They cut corners to offer you a ‘deal’. And, the quality of work they do leaves a lot to be desired.

In my studio, we get a steady stream of people from the flea markets around us coming in asking what we can do to improve their tattoos obtained at a discount. Often the fixes cost 2 to 5 times more than the original cost of the discount tattoo. Most flea market tattoo artists can’t be trusted to tell you the truth about how long they have been tattooing. I once gave a pair of tattoo machines to a guy at a flea market because he helped me locate the person who burglarized my studio. A week or so later, I had customers coming in asking for me to fix work they’d gotten there, and they told me that same person was claiming to have been tattooing for 6 years, when in actuality, he had only started after I gave him his first pair of tattoo machines!

Needless to say, there are many reasons why you should go to a reputable tattoo studio, not the least of them being that the work will be of higher quality, by a trained professional, using the best tattoo inks, in a clean environment, with new, sterile needles for each customer, and you’ll have a much larger inventory of images to choose from as well as being able to work with a skilled artist to develop something uniquely yours, if that is your choice.

In closing, let me restate my original thought behind this article, bargain tattoos often aren’t bargains in the long run. And, it’s one of the biggest traps out there, trying to save a buck when you get a tattoo. Many people fail to remember, that whatever they get, it will be on them for a long, long time. I have never understood why a person would have no worries about paying $200+ for those nifty new Nikes that will probably be lost in the back of their closet in 6 months, never to be worn again, and yet will balk at paying that same $200 for a tattoo that will be on them for the rest of their lives.

So, my advice, to everyone thinking about getting a new tattoo, don’t shop for a bargain. Or you might just get it and then pay the long-term price many times over when you realize that it was no bargain at all! Do your research, ask questions, look at the artist’s previous work in their portfolio, ask to watch them do a tattoo on someone else before you get yours, watch where the needle comes from and where it goes after use. Ask about the brands of ink they use. Ask if they ‘thin’ their inks. Watered down inks don’t make for good tattoos. Ask to have some client’s names who have gotten work there and contact those clients to see if they were happy with the work and how the tattoo looked once it was healed. Listen to what kind of aftercare instructions are given. If they tell clients to use A & D ointment or anything containing petroleum on a healing tattoo, chances are it will not look as good as when it was first done. Do they wrap the tattoo in clear, plastic wrap? Another bad idea. Do they give written and verbal after care instructions? When the artist is gloved, what are they touching? Is there a chance germs are being transferred to your new tattoo because the artist is not careful about what they touch when wearing gloves?

f you want to get the best tattoo and have a prized work of art on yourself that will last a lifetime, and give you pleasure every time you look at it, do yourself a favor, don’t bargain shop for your next tattoo. Go to a licensed, reputable tattoo studio where trained professionals will give you work that you’ll be proud to show off.

 If you have comments on this article, please feel free to email them via the form on our web site. © , Addicted2Tattoos, All rights reserved.

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How Can We Control Illegal Tattooing?

The only way the tattoo industry is going to control who can tattoo and who cannot is to control the sale of tattoo needles. I am convinced of this. After 5+ years of selling tattoo supplies, much to the dismay of my fellow professional tattoo artists, it is the only way I can see to control the illegal tattoo trade.

I am a widow with a small studio. I do high quality work. I keep a very clean shop. I treat all clients with respect and empathy. But, in order to keep my doors open, I have had to resort to whatever income sources I can develop. One of these is selling tattoo supplies. The other tattoo suppliers in my area sell to anyone, why shouldn't I get a piece of the pie, too? Granted, I don't make much, but it will put food in my mouth sometimes when nothing else sells. In an area over saturated with tattoo studios, flea markets, scratchers, home workers, tattoo parties, mobile tattoo studios, I have no choice. Lyle Tuttle, eat do-do.

So, I have a guy come in. He wants 10 liners and 5 shaders. So I ask him what size and type of needles. He doesn't know. The people with him look at him in confusion. They are about to be tattooed by him. Out of his house. He doesn't ask if the needles are pre-sterilized. He doesn't even know what size of each he needs. He says, just give me what you have. Well, I have liners from 1 up to 18. I have shaders in rounds, flats, double stacks, textured and round mags. I am not going to explain what each is used for. He should know this if he is wielding a tattoo machine on someone's skin. I offer to train him. I teach a 3 month workshop that teaches the basics of tattooing, blood-borne pathogens, cross-contamination issues, how to create custom flash, how to basically tattoo. No, he says, I can't afford that. But, I can afford to mess up someone's skin doing something that I really don't know how to do, and get them to pay me for it, he doesn't say.

So, I ask him what kind of work he is doing. Large, complicated pieces, or little bull-**it kind of work? Well, little work, he says. So I sell him the appropriate needles and matching tubes and off he goes. Heaven help the people he will be working on. He doesn't have a clue, and people are willing to save a few bucks to get the lowest possible grade of work on them by someone like him. And, of course, eventually they will find their way back to me and ask me what I can do to 'fix up' the poor quality work they got. I charge a premium for that. I have no choice, because it is so difficult to fix bad work.

Next comes in a guy with more friends who wants piercing supplies. I only sell piercing needles. Not the rest of the tools and supplies to do this professionally. I don't teach people how to do this. It is a much more complicated skill and I won't risk other's health by selling something they would never know how to use. I ask him what he needs. He says he's not sure. He wants to pierce some friends. What kind of piercings I ask. Well, he's not sure. Ok, here we go again. He doesn't ask for sterile needles. He doesn't ask for sterile jewelry. He doesn't even know the right size needle or proper type of jewelry to use for each piercing.

Again, if we controlled the sale of needles, we could curtail all this illicit tattooing and piercing. This needs to be a national law. No one without the proper credentials could buy tattoo or piercing needles. It would be so easy to control this illegal activity. One simple law. That's all it would take.

Come on lawmakers. Help us out here. Would someone just write a law that restricts the sale of tattoo and piercing needles to only those that are licensed and professionally trained to use them? A simple concept. Think how many people who get messed up by untrained, unprofessional people using this equipment, that could be saved. What's it going to take?

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Thinking of getting a white tattoo?
    Here’s some points to consider.

First, there are two distinctly different types of white tattoos being done currently. One is done with white ink only, will be slightly visible under natural daylight and is permanent. The other is done with white UV black light ink and may not be visible at all once healed fully and may or may not last a long time.

The first type is done with only white, normal tattoo ink. There are many brands of white ink on the market today and new brands are showing up all the time. Brands like Starbright, Millenium “Moms’, Kuro Sumi, Fantasia, Eternal, Iron Butterfly, and others basically use titanium white powered pigment in a carrier fluid. This carrier fluid is usually made of glycerin, witch hazel, alcohol, and/or water. The FDA has not at this time approved any inks for injection under human skin. But, we in the market, are expecting that to change in the near future. Some inks are sold as opaque white, while others are intended to be used as a mixing agent with other colors to brighten or lighten the base color, much as is done when tinting paint colors. As a professional tattoo artist of many years, my experience has been that these inks are great when used in small areas, such as edging out a rose, as accents to edges of elements and as reflection points on elements meant to be representational of reflections. But, experience also has taught me that these whites when used in larger areas tend to not hold up well and tend to fade out completely in a year or less depending upon how much that area of the skin is exposed to sun light.

Historically, tattoo artists didn’t even have access to white ink until about 30 years ago. It simply didn’t exist before that time. So, areas that were white in a drawing were usually left naked skin when tattooing was done. Some things like skull teeth, white roses, bones, etc. are usually shaded out with a variety of grays then highlighted with white to give the visual impression of being something white. Many designers of tattoo flash (artwork) today who are not tattoo artists, fail to take into account that white does not hold up well in skin in large areas, over a long period, and design pieces of artwork that require large areas of white ink application in the design. Many tattoo artists will try to advise their clients that perhaps a pale blue, pale yellow, pale purple can be used instead of straight white since with just a slight amount of another pigment added to the white in the area tends to last longer and hold up better.

One particular type of ink that offers a very opaque white ink that does seem to hold up well over time is the brand produced by Intenze. Intenze inks are made with the usual pigments and carrier fluids, but have an added difference. According to the MSDS sheets that tell what the ingredients of inks are, Intenze inks also include a finely ground acrylic polymer. Acrylic polymers are used in car paints, house paints, and other applications. There has been some discussion in online forums between artists that there is a fear that the acrylic polymers may melt and solidify in the skin and make a patch of tougher skin than the surrounding areas. I have been using Intenze inks for over 5 years now and have never had one single complaint from any customer about this problem. I have used this ink on myself with beautiful results. Intenze white is the only white ink that I can use on darker skin and actually get it to show up well. Granted, it sometimes takes a double coat (two applications; apply once, let heal, apply again) to get the intensity the client wants, but it is without a doubt one of the most opaque white inks I have used. My clients love the way it looks and when I explain the pros and cons of the ink types, invariably they choose the Intenze white ink.

The second type of white tattoos being done now are UV black light reactive. There are also several brands of white UV inks on the market. One of the oldest is a microencapsulated type of ink where every molecule of tattoo ink is encapsulated in very tiny clear, flexible containers like a gel cap pill. These inks are only produced by one manufacturer at the moment and they have been rigorously tested in animals for many years. Because of their micro encapsulation, the ink never actually comes in contact with the skin in any way and the only way the ink can be broken out of the micro-container is by freezing. But, hey, if you’re frozen, you’re probably dead anyway, so where’s the contamination issue? I have also been using this ink successfully for over 6 years and have never had one complaint from a client. As usual, I tested it on myself before letting customers request it. The thing about this ink, is that it is thin, and the manufacturer suggests that it is not to be mixed during the tattoo process with normal inks, as they will cancel out the UV properties. Basically this means that if you want a highly visible tattoo, get a normal tattoo first, let it heal completely, then go back to the tattoo artist and have them apply the UV inks over the existing tattoo. If you want a tattoo less noticeable, then use just the UV micro encapsulated inks. (Note: Update, I have discovered that applying UV White tattoo ink over an existing tattoo can cause the UV ink to be absorbed by the ink below it, and now suggest not tattooing over existing tattoo ink with UV tattoo ink. Another approach that seems to work well is to use the UV ink to add a border around existing ink to get an interesting effect. Black particularly seems to be problematic about 'drinking' up the other ink and making it disappear, making the application of the UV ink pointless.) We have recently noticed that un-encapsulated UV inks may disappear completely in just a few months, so be aware of this when requesting UV ink tattoos. This does not appear to be a problem with the micro-encapsulated white UV ink we are currently using. I have 2 nautical stars on my inside wrist areas that still glow just fine after 7 years.

If you have a tattoo done with strictly white micro encapsulated white ink, the tattoo will appear pink (skin irritation from the tattoo process) or purple (stain from the tattoo stencil that fades away completely in a day or two). Once the tattoo is fully healed (perhaps 1 – 2 months) the pinkness goes away and the tattoo is invisible except under UV black lights. I have done a number of these in the past recent years on people like doctors, law enforcement officials, financial and real estate people and others who want tattoos but also respect the constraints of their career fields and need their tattoos to be invisible. The results have been exactly what the client wants. A tattoo artist needs to be very skilled before attempting to use these inks, though, because they are not easy to get good results unless you have the patience to practice a lot on pig ears before you try them on human skin. There is definitely a special technique required to get good results when using UV Black light inks.

Recently, a new tattoo ink manufacturer has come out with a line of non-encapsulated UV black light inks. I have tried the Tokyo Pink and find this ink to be thin, not as bright in the skin as in the bottle, and a couple of clients have come back after 3 – 4 months saying that their pink areas are not glowing under a black light anymore. So, these inks may be good, but their ‘glow power’ endurance seems to be in question. My advice would be to work with an artist who has used a particular type of ink for over 1 year and can give you qualified, expert advice about which brands will do what you want from them.

As for white tattoos? My attitude is, if you’re going to get a tattoo, get a tattoo!! Be proud, be bold, show it off and never apologize for being yourself. But, yes I realize there are some that feel the need to compromise. If white tattoos are what you want, shop around, find an experienced tattoo artist who can show you pictures of their work and give you client referrals so you can make an informed decision, and get what you want.

 If you have comments on this article, please feel free to email them via the form on our web site. © , Addicted2Tattoos, All rights reserved.

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Where is the least painful place to get a tattoo?

This question can actually refer to two different things. One, where (as in location of studio) is one aspect of this question. The other, where (on the body) is the least painful place to get a tattoo is the other aspect of this question.

Attacking the first reference, obviously, the least painful place to get a tattoo is in a licensed, professional tattoo studio. A lot of people will ask why. Here’s the reasons. If you go to someone doing tattoos out of their home, or perhaps in a flea market, or an outdoor event, where a tattoo artist is working out in the dirty environment, you risk having an inexperienced tattoo artist butcher your skin. One of the reasons they don’t work in a licensed studio may be because their skills just aren’t up to par with what is expected of an artist in a studio. Another reason may be that they are just learning. Another reason may be that if they did tattoos in a studio like they do in their homes, chances are they would get no repeat business and this would have a negative effect on the studio. Another reason may be that they cause scarring when they tattoo because of the mistaken assumption that to get the ink to stay better in the skin, they have to go real deep. This is not so.

A professional tattoo artist has been trained to put the ink below the dead layer of the skin at the outside. If the ink is put into the dead layer that sloughs off the ink will not stay and lines and fill in areas will appear splotchy and weak. If the artist puts the ink below the living layer where new skin cells are generated, they are going too deep. This can cause the ink to spread under the skin so edges become spider webbed or there is a bluish or greenish glow around the edges of the tattoo. By going too deep, they also risk causing permanent raised scars on the client. Inexperienced tattoo artists have difficulty in controlling their needle depth and clients complain that the tattoo experience hurts excessively. It also causes healing to take an unusually long time to heal and because the ink is put too deeply into the skin, the tattoo can appear murky and indistinct, colors appear dull, and spread in uncontrollable ways under the skin in the fat layer below the skin.

Now on to the second part of this question. Where does it hurt the least to get a tattoo? The places on the body that seem easiest for clients to tolerate are the upper back, outer arms, outer calves, and buttocks. These areas get more friction in normal daily actions and so are more used to being touched. On the arms and legs, some of the more painful areas are the elbows, inside the elbows, the knees, inside the knees, the wrists and ankles.

Ribs, front torso, underarms are very uncomfortable. Feet and hands are not easy either. Necks can be good or bad, depends on the person. Lower backs seem to also be painful.

Pain is a funny thing. If you have had pain in your life, you tend to take the feeling of getting a tattoo better. If you are young, never had significant pain in your body or are one of those with a low tolerance for pain, chances are you will be uncomfortable no matter where the tattoo is put. Women in general tolerate the feeling better than men. But, men who have been through military or law enforcement training seem to do better.

If you have never had a tattoo, it is difficult to describe the feeling. Some relate it to a cat scratch or bee sting. Some say it feels like being burned or branded. Some say it feels like razor cuts. Without a doubt it is an acquired taste. Since the body has never had this sensation before, it tends to try to relate it to something within your realm of experience. After you get one or two, it gets easier to take. The trick is to relax during the process. A relaxed body is not fighting the pain by tensing up. Tensing up makes the surface of the skin harder and thus makes it harder to get the tattoo ink in the proper layer of skin. Holding your breath will make you pass out. By all means, make sure you have a good meal about 2 hours before starting the tattoo process. Getting a tattoo on an empty stomach can cause problems. The sensation of pain releases endorphins from the brain that is the body’s way of protecting itself from pain sensations. It can also cause a drop in the blood’s sugar level that can lead to passing out. Many people claim to be addicted to tattoos, and this may suggest that they are really more into getting the endorphin release than the tattoo, IMHO.

The best thing to remember when getting a tattoo is that there is an end to the process. A small tattoo can take under 10 minutes. Larger pieces take longer. My experience has been that the body has a natural tolerance barrier. This is about 3 hours. After 3 hours, I find that clients become more uncomfortable, more of the plasma leaks from their skin, this dilutes the ink and makes it harder to get good coverage. At this 3 hour mark I also notice that the skin can become pebble-like with areas where it appears to be harder thus making giving the tattoo more difficult.

Large tattoos can be broken into several sittings. The first sitting usually will involve getting all the outline work done. This is because matching up stencil pieces can be difficult to nearly impossible and if only part of the outline is completed in one sitting, chances are the second sitting produces inferior results. Once the outline has been completed, there is no problem letting the outlines heal before beginning any of the fill in process. Dark colors seem easier to get into the skin. Lighter colors may sometimes need to be gone over twice to get the full effect of the pigment. It is not uncommon when doing large black tribal pieces and pieces with large pastel colors to have the customer come back within 3 weeks to have a second ‘coat’ of ink put in the tattoo. This gives the artist a good look at how you take care of the tattoo during the healing process and the opportunity to ‘touch up’ any small spots that may need it.

Clients will swear that they followed the after care instructions, but as a trained professional in the business for many years, I have come to recognize the tell-tale signs of neglect or picking at the tattoo during the healing process. Letting the tattoo dry out, using petroleum products, picking at the scabs, exposure to sun and water, wearing tight clothes or shoes over a fresh tattoo, not washing the tattoo frequently, and using too much lotion on the tattoo during healing can all have adverse effects on the final outcome of the healed tattoo.

The final result of where hurts the least are variable. A lot depends on whether it is your first tattoo or not, where you desire the tattoo to be placed, how large the tattoo is, how well you tolerate pain and how well you take care of it during the healing process. During the actual process of tattooing, if you need to take a break, remember, don’t take too long of a break or once you sit again to continue the tattoo, you may find it more painful than if you took no break at all. Getting tattoos in unusual locations on the body can be more painful than getting it in the normal locations. You must weigh your desire for placement with how well you tolerate pain. You must make logical decisions based on how large the tattoo will be and whether you are up for sitting for a longer period during the process. You must decide what is best for you. Unfortunately, I know of no areas on the body where it doesn’t hurt to get a tattoo, but it doesn’t hurt that much, and as an adult, you can always let your mind wander instead of concentrating on the sensation. Go to your happy place and you’ll do fine!

 If you have comments on this article, please feel free to email them via the form on our web site. © , Addicted2Tattoos, All rights reserved.

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Why "small" doesn't make a great tattoo.

We all know we are in hard economic times. Most of us are struggling in one way or another to keep it together until things get better. And, we'd like to still be able to enjoy some of the pleasures that life has to offer, like getting a new tattoo. It cheers us up, it makes our lives more exciting and it's cool to have hot ink!

But, for your next tattoo, consider this: GO LARGER!

There are many reasons for this. Tattoos are on your skin for the rest of your life. You like to show off your tattoos and get positive responses to your well chosen ink. You get to choose what you get where and how big each time you get a tattoo. We've been seeing a distressing trend in tattooing by those trying to save a few dollars. They come in and want to spend $20, $30, $40 and get some ink. Frankly, for that kind of money, all you can afford to do is go to the flea market (questionable skill and cleanliness) or go to a "scratcher" (someone working underground out of their house, garage, trailer, etc., not working in a legitimate, licensed tattoo studio - even scarier than a flea market for skill and cleanliness).

Why waste your money on something so trivial? Why risk you health, wreck your skin with bad or dangerous work? Why end up looking like something in the Sunday funny papers? (That's how a lot of tattoo artists refer to people who have lots of small tattoos of all different subjects scattered here and there on themselves - no cohesion or planning to the overall effect of their tattoos.)

Tattoos are like billboards, people glance quickly at them and then say something like: "Oh, that's really cool," or "that's some ink you've got" (might be translated as - wow, that's bad but I don't want to hurt your feelings by saying so.) Tiny ones only tell those around you that you are probably skimping on cost and like everything else in life, you only get what you pay for.

 If you have comments on this article, please feel free to email them via the form on our web site. © , Addicted2Tattoos, All rights reserved.

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Why we don't let children and/or babies in our studio?

We know some people do not like our policy and will leave our studio because we do not let children and babies in the studio. We have many good reasons why we do not allow anyone under 16 into our studio.

1. There are pornographic images in our tattoo designs and it is against the law to expose minors to these images.

2. We do not service anyone under 16 years of age and therefore feel that it is necessary to ask that they do not enter the studio.

3. Babies and young children especially get sick often. When they bring their illness into our studio, invariably the artists get sick and a day sick means a day we don't earn $$ to pay our bills.

4. When tattooing, microscopic particles of ink and bodily fluids are in the air and these can be harmful to young ones. When an adult enters the studio, they make an adult decision to enter, those under age do not understand this and we do not like to put these precious ones at risk.

5. A tattoo studio is an adult environment, just like a bar, a club, or a strip joint. Would you take your child inside one of these other establishments? Better not, it's against the law. We feel that people under 16 should not be exposed to the images or the sometimes vulgar language in a tattoo studio. When we are discussing exotic piercings this is not something that should be done within earshot of a person under 16.

6. When a parent or guardian brings a person under 16 into the studio, they are often more distracted by the presence of the youngster, and do not follow our instructions well when they are not paying attention to what we are doing.

7. Unfortunately, youngsters often mishandle our expensive artwork, gobble all the sweet treats we offer our clients, and sometimes are like wild hooligans on the war path. It is distracting to other adults who are trying to make important decisions about a tattoo or piercing. The damage to our waiting area is costly to fix and as everyone knows, kids are prone to temper tantrums, and that's embarrassing to us all.

8. Our waiting area is very small and having a bunch of kids hanging out in the waiting area means that our paying customers may not have a place to sit while making selections.

9. Getting a tattoo or piercing is a rite of passage, one of many that ushers a young person into adulthood. It is a privilege and not a right. With the Internet, it is very easy for anyone to research tattoo designs, piercing types, and anything else to do with our industry. It is not necessary to go into a tattoo studio to look at tattoo designs and piercing possibilities.

So, we hope you understand and respect our reasons for not allowing anyone under 16 to enter our studio. We have several signs prominently displayed in our windows, on our door and inside the studio, all saying the same thing, do not bring anyone under 16 into this studio. And, yet, almost every week, we have people pushing strollers into the door, showing up with 3-4 kids in tow, and just generally think the signs and policy apply to everyone else except themselves. We are not mean, rude, or singling you out, we have many good reasons why we do not wish to have anyone under 16 in the studio. We hope you will respect our policy to protect the younger generation.

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