Tattoos have been around for a long time. Tattoos first appeared over 8000 years ago, and they didn’t have one, single historical point of origin. Throughout history, the meanings associated with getting tattoos have evolved although tattoos have usually been connected with social status or cultural heritage. For example, slaves have been tattooed unwillingly at various times in the past – they were marked this way by their owners. Women from ancient civilizations used to get tattoos in order to emphasize their fertility. In World War II, the Nazis used tattoos to mark prisoners, so ink was used in a terrible process of dehumanization: to turn people into numbers. But, in modern times, it all started in New York City in 1891, when Samuel O’Reilly invented a tattoo machine.
At the beginning of their popularity in modern times, tattoos were considered as signs of rebellion, or they played an important role in recognition (especially in social circles like the navy, the army, secret societies, or gangs). As time flew by, tattoos started to be percieved as forms of expression, and they have become a part of mainstream culture.
- What should I get?
There are two types of tattoos: the ones with a meaning, and the ones that are there as decoration – purely because they look good aesthetically. Personally, I was never a big supporter of getting a tattoo for the sake of getting inked. It has always been more logical to me to get a personalized tattoo, something that will belong only to you. Of course, there are also people who are fascinated by the art of tattooing, so they are willing to spend thousands of dollars just to become human canvases for amazing art masters, such as Tattoo Temple in Hong Kong. Most of my friends who have been inked had their reasons for doing so: either it was to mark a difficult stage of life that they managed to overcome, or as small symbolic pieces that made them feel like a whole person. Be that as it may, you should think it through and get something you feel will always have a special value for you. Sure, with today’s laser treatments, you can get it removed, but keep in mind that it can be expensive, painful or even leave you with serious scars if done unprofessionally. So, think about it in a way that it goes under your skin and truly is permanent.
- Why do you even need to get a tattoo?
… is a question to be heard commonly from the ones who don’t like or support tattooing. The truth is, getting inked can give you more mental strength or can work as a physical reminder, whether it is of something painful that you still don’t wish to forget (like the loss of someone you love) or a reminder of the good things in life. It is a form of personal expression. Your tattoo doesn’t even have to be visible to others, but there is just some sense of wholeness after you get it. Still, if you feel like you need to justify yourself to others about getting a tattoo, then maybe you should wait just a bit longer in order to reasses your motives. You shouldn’t get a tattoo in order to impress other people or if you just think it will look cool. Always take your time before getting one in order to make sure it is something you really want, not just your current caprice.
- How much will it hurt?
This is a tricky question, since everyone has a different pain threshold. It depends on the type of your tattoo (size and the technique used), as well as the place where you are getting it. Different areas of our bodies have more or less concentrated nerve endings, so the amount of pain depends on that. For me, it didn’t cause that much pain although it was unpleasant. But, most of the tattooed people I have had a chance to talk to, have described a unique feeling: they felt victorious afterwards, and they eventually realized that they actually enjoyed the process.
- How does the tattoo machine actually work?
In layman’s terms, the needles at the end of the machine move really fast in an up and down motion, they penetrate your epidermis and place ink underneath the first layer of your skin. This penetration is what causes you pain and what makes your tattoo permanent.
- How to pick a good tattoo artist?
The best way to pick a good tattoo studio is through an honest recommendation. You can also search the social media and see their previous work, in order to make sure their style and quality is something you want on your skin. Make sure he or she is a certified tattoo master and takes good care of hygienic conditions in the studio.
- What if I don’t like it afterwards?
That is a risk you take when getting a tattoo. You can prevent this by choosing a great tattoo artist and by really thinking through if that’s what you honestly want. Also, there are always options like laser removal or re-doing your tattoo somewhere else.
- Is it messy? Will there be a lot of blood?
The amount of blood is minimal, but inevitable – since the first layer of your skin is getting punctured by the needles.
- How do I take care of it afterwards?
You will get all the needed instructions from your tattoo artist. Looking after it isn’t at all complicated and lasts for a couple of weeks. Your skin needs time to heal, so you will get some cream to take care of it and instructions on how to protect your skin from getting infected.
- How will it look when I get old?
Skin has a tendency to strech and wrinkle when we get old, so depending on the place where you get your tattoo – it can become a bit deformed. Usually, people who protest against tattoos present this argument as their main one. If you are worried about what will it look like, maybe you shouldn’t get one at all. Or check out this story and rethink a bit, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, on the contrary.
- Will it affect my career?
People are worried that getting a tattoo will turn off potential employers. Depending on the work place, tattoos may even be desirable. So, there is no straight yes or no answer to this question. Some people are appalled by tattoos and are simply prejudiced. The safest way to go is to get a tattoo in a place that can be covered with clothes. But still: you should think about whether or not you want to work for someone who will judge you by the ink on your skin, not your personality or qualities as a worker.