Tattoos 101

Tattoo left arm.I posted this once on a forum and dug it up `cause I’m tired & lazy tonight. The images in this post are of my tattoos, and for all the newbies out there here are the Do’s & Don’ts when getting a tattoo:

1. Don’t Get A Tattoo On A Whim.
Sure it’s a cool idea now, but what happens tomorrow when there’s no peer pressure from your drinking buddies or that gal you decided to impress is dating someone else? Maybe a tattoo isn’t as permanent anymore, not with laser removal surgery, but stop and think – Do you really want to pay twice as much to have a tattoo removed as you did to get it in the first place? Not to mention the time involved. Also is the Tasmanian Devil what you want to show off when you’re 65 swapping war stories in the old folks home?

“Heh, I remember the time I got drunk and those buddies of mine had No Entry tattooed on my butt!” Ooh, now there’s a cherished memory.

2. Ask Around, Find A Reputable Tattoo Shop.
Not all places are built the same. Before you just walk in and say “Ink me!” make sure you know something about the shop. Get recommendations from friends who’ve had tattoos done, look at an artist’s portfolio, check to see if they use disposable needles and have a clean shop. A good shop won’t tattoo you if you’ve been drinking (thins the blood, takes longer to ink & heal) and don’t be surprised at the number of bad shops that are out there. (I remember a chain of shops that were closed in Detroit due to the spread of Hepatitis from dirty needles). That being said I would never get a tattoo done in another city I was just visiting.

Tattoo right arm.3. OK, So You’re Going For It, Now What?
So you’ve found a shop and you’re going to get inked. Have you given some thought to what you want? I did mention that this was permanent right? Are you getting color work done or just black & white? Will your piece be filled or just an outline? Depending on what you choose, be prepared for more than one trip to complete your tattoo. Generally a color piece can take two days as you’ll be outlined & shaded first, then the color will be added after your skin heals a little. Make sure you ask about the inks. Organic inks are not as bright, but some people (myself included) are allergic to synthetic inks.

4. Where Should I Put My Tattoo?
That’s up to you. If you are work or opinion conscious then you may opt for a place that can be covered like you back or upper arm. Generally the more muscle in the spot the less pain you will feel. Anything close to bone, i.e., toes, knuckles, base of spine, will feel like your funny bone is being pinched. As you can see, I’m literally covered in tattoos, but nobody knows as I generally wear a shirt & tie for corporate gigs. I do get weird looks the first time someone new catches me at the lake… LOL.

Back Tattoo.5. I’ve Been Inked, I’m Done Right?
Nope. Immediately following the procedure you’ll be instructed to keep the tattoo moist. You can use Vaseline or any Vitamin E ointment so long as you don’t let the skin get dry. You tattoo will have an embossed look and your skin will feel like it’s been sunburned when you touch it so you’ll probably wear loose clothing for a few days. (Take this into account when choosing your location as it would suck not to be able to sit down in those capri pants, cruisin’ while your ass heals) If you don’t take care of the tattoo then you might end up ruining what you just paid for. I had a friend who couldn’t stop pickin’ at his arm after having a wraparound tribal done. It looked nasty after only one month, because he scratched it so much that it was uneven and broken in spots.

In summary, some quick descriptions of my tattoos: #1 The face & heart-skull represent love & loss and the dragon symbolizes wisdom. #2 The cat-face represents passion & creativity, the hawk is ambition, the Indian woman forgiveness & the warrior represents honor. #3 This back piece was meant to represent what I’ve learned from past relationships. The dragons are representative of my persona. The image on the left shows how sometimes I dominate the relationship and smother my partner, while the image on the right shows how my partner takes advantage when I’m too distracted by inner turmoil. The wizard was done by a different artist and while it anchors the piece, it was not part of the original concept.

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  • Jennifer June 8, 2003   Reply →

    Daaaaamn….VERY cool tats, A.J.! =)
    I’m quite the tattoo lover as well….but I certainly don’t have THAT many… =)


  • Cyn June 8, 2003   Reply →

    I like the artwork.

  • Lauren June 8, 2003   Reply →

    Those are very high quality. Good post too, I’ve been thinking of getting one but still don’t know. Don’t want to jump into it.

  • Rhys June 8, 2003   Reply →

    Cool tats (I never pictured you had one, let alone 3!), I like the bloodstained warrior one. I’m sorta half thinking of one as well, though I’ll probably chicken out. Not that I’m scared, just that I change my desktop wallpaper almost as much as I change my socks, so I’d probably get bored of it.

  • Roland June 8, 2003   Reply →

    Holy crap, that’s a lot of tattoos!

  • Cyn June 8, 2003   Reply →

    I like the eyes of the middle picture bottom cat/girl. *is fascinated by eyes*

  • Ryan June 9, 2003   Reply →

    I have been thinking of getting a tattoo for quite some time now, but I’m still hard at deciding what that would be.

    I like your designs, but I wouldn’t want dragons and warriors on my body, even though I am an avid EQ freak. Thanks for the advice and insight though AJ. When I get it done I’ll be sure to put up the finished pictures 🙂

  • the evil queen June 9, 2003   Reply →

    excellent post and lovely tats too! (hee hee. get it? “tats too”. hahaha. i crack myself up.)

    xoxo, jared

  • Jessica August 2, 2003   Reply →

    I would like to find out more about organic ink – particularly black. Can you (anyone) tell me how to find/order such ink? And how to tell FOR SURE what is in it? I am more concerned with it being organic, than brilliant, or lasting a long time.

    Thanks for any info – my email address is

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