Welcome to the blog post that is probably full of the most photos of me that this website has ever seen. But it seemed kind of silly to write a post about my tattoos without showing them. Especially when a large part of the post underscores their visibility… which seem to lead to many a comment from strangers. Often the same questions over and over again…
Did it hurt? Kind of? I mean it’s a needle penetrating your skin, so it’ll hurt at least a little bit, but it’s pretty tolerable for the most part.
What do your parents/husband think? My dad actually wrote me an email trying to talk me out of starting my sleeve the night before my tattoo appointment. Keep in mind at the time I already had four other tattoos, they just weren’t as visible. He’s very old school, but does appreciate the quality and craftsmanship behind them – even if he probably wishes I didn’t have any. Sorry not sorry, Dad. Husband wouldn’t necessarily get the ones I have, but is very supportive and also thinks they are well done.
Has it negatively impacted your career? If anything I’ve gained more career opportunities with them. In public, they are a good talking point or icebreaker. In a professional setting, I generally wear a lot of long sleeves where they are hardly visible anyway. That being said I also work in a very creative environment where personal expression is often rewarded, someone in a more structured or conservative role might not have the same experience.
What about when you’re old? They’re going to be just as cool. If you’re worried what tattoos will look like with age, to me it says more about your perception of ageism and your relationship with mortality than it does an actual tattoo.
But what do they mean? The meaning of mine range from growing up during the Harry Potter craze (hi there, Slytherin here complete with Dark Mark), being a huge Star Trek fan (see that time I got a UV ink tattoo of the Starfleet insignia), a tribute tattoo to my grandpa, a line from my favorite poem, and just thinking crows are cool as fuck. Getting an incredibly meaningful tattoo is profound and a wonderful experience, but sometimes you get one just because you like the look of it or because you really like a certain artist’s style, and that’s ok too. I’m sure I’ll be adding more of all these reasons in the future.
That said, the responses I get overall are incredibly receptive and favorable. For any of you who currently are thinking about getting a tattoo or even adding a more visible piece, the key pieces of advice I can think of are summed up below. For those of you that already have them, the rest will probably be pretty relatable.
BEFORE GETTING YOUR TATTOO
Even though I’m pretty pro-tattoo, I don’t necessarily advocate getting one on a whim. There’s a lot that goes into (or at least should go into) finding a tattooist you want to work with and aftercare once you get it.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
I knew I wanted a sleeve long before I knew what style I wanted it in, or who I wanted to work with. I did a lot of scrolling through portfolios, instagram hashtags, and pinterest boards before I could start identifying the work I really appreciated. Once I had a set idea of the artwork style I wanted, I kept my eye out for the right tattoo artist that excelled in it.
You know how they say when you meet the love of your life you just know? Well, that’s how I felt looking at the instagram feed 70 weeks in of the artist that completed my Dark Mark. I just knew they were going to be the one to start my sleeve. A few emails, a consultation, two sessions, and six hours later, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. If I were in Seattle more often, I’d probably even have even more work by @judeletronik. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend getting in touch.
SOMETIMES YOU’LL END UP WORKING WITH MORE THAN ONE ARTIST
The most recent tattoo I’ve gotten is my crow. I had been following @SashaTattooing on instagram for ages when she mentioned she was going to be doing a couple guest spots at a local tattoo parlor in Los Angeles. Jumping at the chance definitely understates the velocity at which I emailed her assistant. Having been familiar with her style and artwork made me feel incredibly confident with the quick turnaround it ended up being (emailed on Friday and by Sunday I had a fresh bird on my arm).
Even though my sleeve has artwork from different artists, they both have similar styles and incredibly detailed line work. Knowing what you like whether it’s flash art, traditional, stick and poke, dot work, linework, colorful, black & white, etc… It really helps to know your preferences and how it will look once completed as a cohesive (or not so) piece.
DON’T CHEAP OUT
This is going to be on your body for a lifetime. Unless you cover it up (which, just like a color correction at the hair salon, usually costs more than the initial session), or get it removed (which definitely costs more than the initial session), you’ll have this on you for the rest of your life. It is an investment. You want someone who is well experienced and uses good ink. Bottom line, you get what you pay for. Cheap tattoos are 99% of the time going to look cheap. Just don’t do it. Both of my custom pieces cost about $1000-1200 and I would gladly spend that much on the next.
THE IMPORTANCE OF AFTERCARE
It’s not over once you walk out of the tattoo parlor. Your new tattoo is essentially an open wound and should be cared for as such. Keeping it clean, keeping it moisturized, and away from environments full of bacteria is important to make sure it heals well without discoloration or worse.
For the first two weeks, I usually wash my tattoo with mild soap and a washcloth and follow with a moisturizing product. Your artist will probably recommend a specific product they like. My current go to being iS CLINICAL SHEALD, it’s packed with ingredients that help prevent scabbing while minimizing inflammation, itching, and photo-damage… ie most of the things you try to avoid while your tattoo is healing. I’ll carry it around with me and reapply whenever my tattoo is feeling dry.
You’ll also want to avoid the beach for at least 2 weeks until you don’t have an open wound. And about 4+ weeks away from pools as chlorine and other treatment chemicals can prematurely lighten the ink. Of course the week I got this most recent tattoo I got invited to go surfing, pool party season started, and heat waves struck. Such is life.
AND AFTER THAT
Even once your tattoo has fully healed, that doesn’t mean you are done taking care of it. And while you should be wearing sunscreen while out and about anyway, it’s especially important to protect your tattoos from UVA/UVB exposure that can fade your notably expensive investment. I usually tend to opt for sunscreens that offer broadspectrum protection (like the Trader Joe’s spray sunscreen in the blue bottle, this one, or this one).
What about you all? Any tattoos, thinking about them, who are your favorite artists? Link me your ink in the comments 👇🏻!