At Tattoo Concierge it has been our experience that irrespective of the amount of research previously completed numerous technical and emotional questions regarding the tattooing process remain. Knowing as much as you can will allow you to make informed, educated decisions. When chosen correctly your tattoo can be a permanent work of art that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. And the only way to make a decision you will be happy with for that length of time is with the right facts and a clear. Even the most experienced artists were not born in tattoo studios. Everyone at some time or another has been in your position asking the same questions. Like every person before you there are many facets, tools and systems around body/art that must be learned. A veritable plethora of information about the process exists and even the most experienced in body modifications might not fully understand them all. The following entries address some of the more frequently posed questions as well as offer a brief introduction to the artists’ world
Firstly we believe that body/art can and should be a passion. In the same way as your favorite painting, song or movie invokes an emotional response, body/art in its’ purest form can be the physical manifestation of this highly personal interaction. If you have chosen an artist who is able to create a unique design or procedure then part of your body and by extension you, are essentially turned into a living work of art. The purpose of this introduction is to clarify the decisions, process and care needed when choosing and receiving body/art. The end goal is not only knowing what makes a hygienic environment but also the recognition of genuine artwork

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yes provided that you choose correctly

As a practice tattooing and most body/art procedures inherently hold no more risk than any comparable cosmetic treatment or procedure. But in the same way that one would choose to receive a surgery from a reputable doctor – choosing a bad practitioner opens the possibility of causing serious damage. And with tattooing, evidence of the wrong choice is more or less permanent. Please also remember that it is your responsibility to correctly care for your artwork following your session, i.e. following correct aftercare recommendations


yes however pain is subjective

Pain is a highly subjective term and from decades of experience, it is highly unusual that a session is ever stopped due to discomfort. Pain is relative. At TC we have had manly, young professional body builders that experience greater discomfort than an older woman who may fall asleep when getting a tattoo on the same location. Meaning most every client is able to make it through hours of tattooing with no issues whatsoever. A key consideration is to simply keep breathing throughout. Only the top layer of skin should be perforated allowing the ink to be placed on the dermis, it is a comparatively topical or cosmetic procedure. There will of course be some levels of discomfort throughout yet typically, all absolutely bearable
There are three factors when considering the pain of a tattoo. The first is that most anticipated pain often seems to greater in one’s mind than it actually turns out to be. Quite commonly expectations are more intense than pain experienced. This usually leaves clients pleasantly surprised. Most will begin reaching thresholds though and even the toughest client can start flagging after say six to seven continuous hours of tattooing. Secondly you need to consider your motivation behind receiving your body/art If you are nervous, have chosen the wrong artist or otherwise unsure then the pain for some can be much more pronounced. This is caused from even an inadvertent tightening of muscles, shorter breathing patterns and again overall ‘nerves being on-edge’. However if you are confident in your artist, excited for the composition and can’t wait to have the piece then you will be relaxed and the pain will be comparatively minuscule. Most often a hugely influential factor regarding pain levels is basically the way one views and chooses the body/art. Thirdly, and this is the most fundamental, pain levels felt when getting a tattoo can be down to the skill of your artist. If the artist does not know the correct depth that they should be pushing the needle, is too rough or simply doesn’t care then they can cause bleeding and in some cases scarring. The tattoo needle should not cause you to bleed. Tattoo ink is placed on the second or middle layer of skin away from the blood vessels. If the artist doesn’t know the various skin thicknesses, how to set the needle or how far to push then it can cause some serious problems. If the tattooist does not know the physiological variations then this will cause unnecessary pain during the process | top


certainly yet these typically and are not necessary
Tattoos are permanent because they rest on the middle layer of skin. Very simply the top layer of skin is constantly shedding, the middle layer is stable and the lower layer connects the blood vessels and nerves. Numbing creams are applied and work on the top layer of skin only. The tattoo sits on the second layer of skin. Lidocaine is the most common active ingredient in numbing creams and only works on a small portion of the area. It does not cut off all sensation to any area. Additionally lidocaine has the potential to cause unwanted side effects if applied to any open area, i.e. freshly tattooed portion. Anyone who promises a pain free tattoo is being dishonest. At best numbing creams offer a mild assistance. The creams typically need to be applied to the area and absorbed into your skin for say 45 minutes to an hour before application commences. Effects from the strongest creams (around 17% Lidocaine used for cosmetic tattooing, used for example on the face), lasts anywhere from three to five hours. From subjective and personal reports many claim that these can reduce the sensation anywhere from 50% to 70% whilst the cream is in full-effect. However tattooing anywhere the cream has not been applied offers a sharp surprise by contrast! And those who have multiple sessions, e.g. back to back days, cannot apply cream to the same area if tattooed on the second day. Again, typically going ‘au naturale’ is your safest bet | top


transfer this question to any other art form

Think of the difference between asking your friend to draw a picture or commissioning Picasso. Single tattoo pieces of course are not comparable, on a purely financial scale, to the current price of a Picasso but the contrast of recognizable quality and artwork holds. You can either commission an artist or you can pay a much smaller fee to someone who knows how to trace a picture. If you do not want to pay for quality do not get a piece of body/art You are deciding on something you will wear and display for the rest of your life. This is the last place you want haggle. And although there is not a complete positive correlation between the price and quality of the artwork, the two often match up. Meaning if you think you have found someone that is offering a great deal below the average then the quality is highly likely to be below market standard too
What body/art would look good on me considering my preferences? Where should it be placed? When you are creating your artwork a thoughtful body/artist considers these options with you. However you will need to bring some information to the table. Ask yourself what you personally find beautiful, appealing, powerful and or inspirational. What do you want to be reminded of or carry with you the rest of your life? Your body/artist can guide and advise on the style or direction but in the end you are the only person that can state your preferences. Irrespective of your selected artists’ skill level, no one else apart from you can tell you what you think looks good. Please also try to remember that you’re dealing with an artist, not a mind reader. They will interpret and view the art world as well as compositions very differently than you might, in fact it is their profession to do so | top


please use any images you find for reference only

TC has close to 200,000 images of tattoo designs and artwork freely available on line not including artist’s portfolios Yet none of these images should be transferred directly into a piece (unless you wish to go for the classical artwork re-creation of course). Images can be used by you and your artist to guide and direct your design. At times we have found there to be a few exceptions. This would be when a family crest, emblem or a very meaningful design element is requested to be incorporated. Alterations to any such element are of course not necessary. The overarching principle is that tattoos are not something chosen out of a book. They do not have to be repeated and they should not be chosen quickly. It is going on your body. Make it your artwork, not a copy of someone elses’. And if you think someone else might have had this tattoo done before, chances are that they have. With a world of possibilities dare to create something just for yourself | top


just keep your art in optimum condition

The purpose of the aftercare instructions are to ensure that the body/art remains in optimal condition. At TC we have faced numerous ‘urban legends’ about various restrictions placed on people with tattoos. These include the myth that you can’t give blood (it is only sometimes recommended that for plasma donation you wait up to 12 months after that tattoo application appointment). Long story short, those with body/art face no physiological restrictions because of the work received | top


no one time is necessarily best

Factors to consider here are lifestyle, environment and skin condition. A tattoo needs to be allowed to breathe, it needs to be kept clean and lightly moisturized particularly for the first 28 days. If you work in an office then you spend most of your time in a climate controlled environment so there would be little season affect. If you work outside during the summer and are sweating constantly, then wait for winter. People in South East Asia, due to the humidity, often prefer waiting for the cooler winter months as this eases the aftercare process. Whereas many European clients need to wrap their fresh body/art to maintain desired moisture levels during the healing process. No one knows your body, lifestyle and environment better than you. With a basic understanding of the aftercare procedures simply choose when proceeding with your art would cause the least imposition to your schedule | top

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to paraphrase: when it comes to matters of opinion there is no accounting for taste. Everyone will have varied requirements when it comes to choosing their body/art and venue. However no matter where you end up, how you got there should be the result of an educated decision


…….time spent researching artists will pay off

As in any other industry or service there are reputable, renowned practitioners and ones that you may decide that you should stay well away from. Find an artist with a style that speaks to you. There is often an excitement that accompanies the prospect of getting inked right away yet instead of making quick decisions attempt to transfer that energy into the composition itself. Quality must come before speed. Feel free to discuss your preferences, ask any questions that arise and share your research for feedback | top


…….answer questions and raise considerations

Artist’s genuine portfolios of completed work should be readily available. Accurate information around their commission venue should also be communicated. At any time if you feel the artist is not being forthcoming with any information or unable to answer your questions – contact another one | top


…….no matter your level of experience

Are the lines of the tattoo straight and clean? Good work will retain the same shape and flow you find in any other composition. Is everything in proportion? There are natural bodily contours and curves that must be accounted for yet aside from placement on the human canvas consider the applied (i.e. tattooed), piece itself. Does a hand look like a hand or are there some ‘anatomical anomalies’. Is a bird’s wing in the right position or does it look unnaturally awkward? Does the piece look like it was drawn with unusual angles? Common sense goes a long way. Does a face look like a face? Portraits are sometimes easier for most people when ascertaining quality as the human mind is predisposed to recognize faces. One can usually tell quite quickly if something about a face is ‘not right’. Is the shading smooth? Good artists can create a range of tones using just black ink. This is the smooth shading depth and effect found in ‘gray-scale’ works. And the list goes on.
What about the complexity and positioning of colors? Good artists can, if they work with color, create an amazing array of complex tones. There are various shading and alignment techniques but in general look for pieces that don’t simply consist of large areas filled in with solid, block colors | top

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among all the studio related advice most people fail to take the time and explain the reasons behind it. The following is an attempt to take the most commonly shared tattoo advice and offer an insight into why the recommendation is there in the first place


why this is important: an autoclave is an expensive sterilization tool typically used in hospitals

An autoclave is basically a powerful steamer that ensures all reusable items in the tattooing process are properly cleaned between client sessions. Tubes and grips are the two items most commonly sent through an autoclave. The use of an autoclave is the only method that guarantees hygiene when sterilizing reusable equipment. You cannot boil the tools, just place them in an ultrasonic cleaner or under UV lamps. If someone is working from home or a small studio the chances are they cannot afford to have an autoclave – most likely using disposable equipment instead | top


why this is important: standard hygienic practice

To stop the transmission of any bacteria alongside a range of pathogens it is crucial that the artist implements protective barriers. You are undergoing a procedure where you skin is being pierced. The use of gloves and masks protects both you and the artist. If an artist is not wearing gloves or a mask during your appointment – chances are they didn’t for the last customer either | top


why this is important: tattooing is an art form that has traditionally been passed down from master to student

Modern studios and artists’ working environments are often held to the same levels of cleanliness and hygiene as any operating theatre. Today there are numerous courses in sterilization, hygiene maintenance and the like. Quality artists and operations will actively seek attainment of these kinds of certificates and training | top


why this is important: hepatitis B is an extremely serious infection that can be easily spread

This disease can be spread through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. It is absolutely essential that your artist be vaccinated for Hepatitis B | top


why this is important: you’ve probably seen photos of rows of tiny caps on the work station

Tattoo ink is placed into these caps because throughout the tattooing process the artist has to constantly dip the tattoo needle into the color of ink they’re using. Like the old fountain pens, tattoo needles keep a very small amount of ink on the tips that has to be constantly replenished. There is no ‘in needle’ ink well or ink delivery system. The needle vibrates too fast to allow the necessary hydraulics of internally stored ink to work in tattooing. If they were to keep dipping the tattoo needle into a central, main pot of ink it would then cross contaminate every client. Ink, cream and other materials used throughout the session must be divided into separate containers for each client | top


why this is important: this shows their experience, full portfolios should be readily available

The artists’ best work should be displayed. A quick review or search should yield plenty of results. Judge the work for yourself and don’t necessarily presume that notoriety is always associated with quality | top


why this is important: this is for the same reason as above only the risk that would arise should needles be shared is far more direct

As tattooing needles pierce the skin they are exposed to bodily fluids. Needles must be in sealed containers, opened in front of you before the session and disposed of in a proper receptacle afterwards | top


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your artist should explain the aftercare procedures specific to either their working style and or geographical region. Remember the artists’ responsibility for the care and condition of your body art ends as soon as you walk out the door. You are in charge of caring for what is essentially, in regards to the condition of the skin and particularly for the first few days, an open wound. If you do not properly take care of your body/art it can lead to a risk of infection, subsequently damaging your composition. If a few simple guidelines are followed your body/art will remain a source of pride for all your years to come

3 TO 4 HRS

after your tattoo application appointment the artist will wrap your tattoo with a protective bandage

This prevents infection from air borne bacteria and pathogens. Leave this bandage on but only for the first three to four hours after the tattoo (this is SE Asia specific advice due to the humidity levels)


a thin layer of moisturizer should be applied to the tattooed area ideally three to four times a day

The key healing time is the first few days. However the tattoo will not completely heal until one full skin cycle or 28 days after the procedure. Keeping a light layer of moisturizer on the tattooed area throughout the first four weeks is highly recommended


ink was pushed through the top layers of skin, deposited on the second or middle layer

When the needle was pushing through some ink will have been temporarily retained by the top layers of skin. In the first few weeks the top layers of skin over the tattoo will start to flake and peel. This is completely natural. Your tattoo is not falling off. Do not pick or scratch the area. Instead, let it flake naturally


once the time comes to remove the bandage you can rinse the tattooed area

People often ask if they can shower normally and the answer is yes. But be sure not to soak the tattooed area. You want to avoid prolonged submersion. Depending on your skin type and climate you may or may not want to use some antibacterial soap to clear any excess ointment or cream. Always pat the tattooed area dry as rubbing can cause irritation


saunas, hot tubs and swimming pools can be breeding grounds for bacteria

Normally your skin protects you by providing a waterproof barrier. However your skin has been punctured during the tattoo process and the tattooed area is therefore susceptible to infection. The same applies to baths and even showers but the exposure is shorter and far less intense with showering so the risk is minimized


first 28 days are crucial, you should limit exposing the area to the sun as much as possible

Once the tattooed has healed applying an SPF35+ suntan lotion is recommended prior to hitting the beach. Plenty of tattooed people also have sun tans. But staying out of the sun for the first few weeks is critical. The reason that direct sun is bad for a tattoo is that the sun will heat up the ink. This will cause the ink to move, just as when any element is heated. When this happens your body reacts and treats the ink as a foreign element. It will then attempt to digest the ink so as to ‘flush’ the intruder. This is why tattoos exposed to sun start to look faded. They are literally being absorbed and processed out | top