I am not tattoo junkie, by any means. I have my fair share of ink though…I will admit. And as of about a month ago, I count seven tattoos on my person.
It’s always funny to me when people make a big deal about putting something permanent on their body. I am not so sentimental. I have everything from a tramp stamp to a tattoo for my bff. It doesn’t take much for me to commit to tattoos. I love them. I think they are a great way to express yourself. And if you are anything like me, expressing yourself with permanent drawings on your body is WAAAAY easier than expressing yourself in actual words.
History of tattoos
3300 B.C. — Otzi the Iceman dies in the Alps. His frozen, preserved corpse is discovered in A.D. 1991; it bears the oldest examples of tattooing yet found.
2000 B.C. — Upper-class Egyptian women and priestesses are tattooed with a series of dots over the abdomen, thighs and breasts. Scientists hypothesize that these tattoos are a form of protection during pregnancy, since the abdominal markings would expand to cover the woman’s belly as it grew.
A.D. 316 — Roman Emperor Constantine bans the practice of facial tattooing. His rationale is that man has been created in the image of God, and so to defile the face is to disgrace the divine.
720 — Body art goes out of fashion in Japan when officials begin using tattoos to punish criminals. This lasts until the 17th century, when tattooing is replaced by other punishments. Decorative tattoos quickly become fashionable once more.
922 — While visiting what is now Russia, Arab diplomat Ahmad Ibn Fadlan encounters a group of heavily tattooed traders from northern Europe. Ibn Fadlan describes the tattoos as dark green lines and pictures, extending from the tip of each man’s toes to his neck
1769 — After an expedition to Tahiti and New Zealand, British explorer Capt. James Cook brings back tales of the natives’ elaborate body art. He also popularizes the vocabulary we still use today: The Polynesian word tatau (meaning “to strike”) gives rise to the Western term “tattoo.”
1846 — Martin Hildebrandt opens the first U.S. tattoo parlor in New York City, servicing clientele that includes soldiers from both sides of the Civil War. His daughter, Nora, rises to fame in the 1890s when she tours with the Barnum and Bailey Circus as the Tattooed Lady.
1891 — Samuel O’Reilly invents the electric tattoo machine, which is inspired by Thomas Edison’s autographic printing pen. Modern tattoo machines are still largely based on O’Reilly’s design.
1979 — The three-year-old National Tattoo Association organizes the first National Convention of tattoo artists and fans, in Denver.
1992 — The Alliance of Professional Tattooists, a nonprofit founded to address the tattoo industry’s health and safety issues, is established.
2006 — Scientists at Harvard University develop an erasable tattoo ink. Though it won’t wash off in the shower, the ink’s structure makes it easier for lasers to remove tattoos.
Other facts about tattoos
- Health concerns about blood-born disease have caused many states and cities, including Newark, to ban tattoo parlors.
- In New York City, a hepatitis outbreak in 1961 led to a ban that was not lifted until 1997. Three months later, the first annual New York Tattoo Convention is held in the city.
- There are only two states - Oklahoma and South Carolina - that still ban tattooing.
- New Jersey, like other states, adopted a law in 1997 directing the State Public Health Council to monitor safety conditions in tattoo and body-piercing parlors.
What to expect when getting a tattoo
Here is a great, simple article on how to go about getting your first tattoo. It even has a body map of what locations are more painful. Overall, it will hurt. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If they do, do not trust them.
The way that artists create tattoos is by injecting ink into a person’s skin. To do this, they use an electrically powered tattoo machine that resembles (and sounds like) a dental drill. The machine moves a solid needle up and down to puncture the skin between 50 and 3,000 times per minute. The needle penetrates the skin by about a millimeter and deposits a drop of insoluble ink into the skin with each puncture.
When you look at a person’s tattoo, you’re seeing the ink through the the outer layer of skin (epidermis). The ink is actually in the second layer of the skin (dermis). The cells of the dermis are far more stable than the cells of the epidermis, so the tattoo’s ink will stay in place, with minor fading and dispersion, for a person’s entire life.
Since any puncture wound has the potential for infection and disease transmission, much of the application process focuses on safety. Tattoo artists use sterilization, disposable materials and hand sanitation to protect themselves and their clients.
To eliminate the possibility of contamination, most tattoo materials, including inks, ink cups, gloves and needles, are single use. Many single-use items arrive in sterile packaging, which the artist opens in front of the customer just before beginning work.
Reusable materials, such as the needle bar and tube, are sterilized before every use. The only acceptable sterilization method is an autoclave - a heat/steam/pressure unit often used in hospitals.
The tattoo itself involves several steps:
- Outlining, or black work: Using a single-tipped needle and a thin ink, the artist creates a permanent line over the stencil. Most start at the bottom of the right side and work up so they don’t smear the stencil when cleaning excess ink from the permanent line.
- Shading: After cleaning the area with soap and water, the artist uses a thicker ink and a variety of needles to create an even, solid line. Improper technique during this step can cause shadowed lines, excessive pain and delayed healing.
- Color: The artist cleans the tattoo and then overlaps each line of color to ensure solid, even hues with no holidays - uneven areas where color has lifted out during healing or where the artist missed a section of skin.
- Final cleaning and bandaging: After using a disposable towel to remove any blood and plasma, the artist covers the tattoo with a sterile bandage. Some bleeding always occurs during tattooing, but most stops within a few minutes.
And with anything life, there are risks. Here they are. Don’t be a baby about them, though. It’s life. Shit happens.
Here are some shots of the newbies.
The anchor is for my father, who served 25 years in the Navy. The location is on my right wrist. This tattoo means the most to me than any of the others.
The heart has multiple meanings: 1. John Mayer 2. The John Mayer Summer 2010 concert series with Janel. She knows what I’m talking about. He changed our lives that summer. 3. The location is on my arm = (broken) heart on my sleeve. The location is on the inner part of my right upper arm.
Side note: This post took me a while to put together because for some crazy damn reason, I thought both my tattoos were infected. The heart has taken this long to heal and its still pretty dry and itchy. But about 2 weeks ago it was swollen and looked like I was branded. Not a good look at all. I searched medical websites, threads, and posts and found that some people are allergic to red ink. I also took into consideration the location of the heart is on loose skin, unlike every other tattoo I have, which are located on tighter skin. I also took into consideration that I am a crazy person who may be suffering from hypochondria.