Not Taboo: Tattoos

Love them, hate them, or never really thought about them? No, I’m not talking about American Idol contestants. I’m talking about tattoos.

Not too long ago this wasn’t the case, but here in 2012 most people of my acquaintance either have at least one tattoo or have seriously considered getting one. As for me, I have two, and both have deep personal significance. They’re designs that I will love for life, which is good considering how costly and painful tattoo removal can be.

If you’re on the fence, I recommend arming yourself with as much information as you can. Talk to people who have tattoos, especially those whose design and details you admire. Where was the work done and with which artist? How much did it cost? How long did it take?

There’s only one question you shouldn’t ask: does it hurt? The answer is obvious (um, YES!) so don’t waste anyone’s time asking. Tattoo artists can be very personable and accommodating, so do ask questions and don’t be shy about admitting it’s your first time. All the artists I’ve met have had a sense of humor and were experts at color matching and shading, as well as being responsive to my comfort and satisfaction with the whole tattooing experience.

If you still can’t decide, or if you’re just not seeing any designs you really love, check out some of these books from the library. They may sway you in one direction or another.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting a Tattoo by John Reardon and Ink: the Not-Just-Skin-Deep Guide to Getting a Tattoo by Terisa Green, Ph.D.  provide comprehensive overviews of the tattooing process. Here you’ll discover the long and sordid history of tattoos and tattooing, etiquette “in the chair,” how to care for your newly healing tattoo, and what to expect as your tattoo ages with you.

Both of these books have designs or photos of tattoos to give you ideas. You can also try 500 Tattoo Designs by Henry Ferguson. While the designs featured may be on the small side, some are highly detailed and complicated. It’s definitely what I’d call a good starting place in the search for the tattoo that’s right for you. Remember that sometimes learning what you don’t like is just as important as learning what you do like.

Chick Ink: 40 Stories of Tattoos—and the Women Who Wear Them edited by Karen L. Hudson delves into the stories behind the tattoos as well as the writers’ experiences actually getting the work done. They discuss stereotypes, levels of pain, and memories of family members’ tattoos. It’s actually a pretty good insight into the minds of women who have walked the path before you.

A blog post about tattoos wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Kat Von D. Her book, The Tattoo Chronicles, complies what Kat calls her “blood books.” Part journal, part biography, part inspiration, these pages contain stories from the lives of people whom Kat has tattooed. But there’s also a healthy dose of autobiography as Kat records the stories from her travels and adventures in tattooing and life.

Do you like the idea of something pretty adoring your skin but don’t feel ready to commit to the permanency of needles and ink? Our Teen Zone has some fantastic books on creating temporary tattoos and body art that will eventually wash away. Temporary Tattoos by Erick Aveline and Joyce Chargueraud, Body Art Chic by Barry Bish, Mehndi: the Art of Body Painting by Carine Fabius, and Mehndi Designs by Marty Noble are packed with designs, templates, and instructions for creating amazing, but temporary, adornments. Don’t be put off by the fact that we shelve these books in the Teen Zone. These designs are cool enough for adults, too.

Getting a tattoo can be as easy as going to a random tattoo place on a Saturday afternoon. Or it can be as complicated and involved as selecting a couple of designs, showing them to an artist you’ve researched, having him combine the designs and colors into one amazing image, and scheduling your session well in advance. There’s really no wrong way to go about getting a tattoo as long as you’re committed to the process and well-informed.


This entry was posted in Nonfiction, Young Adult and tagged by Carol. Bookmark the permalink.

About Carol

Carol likes to read for fun. Her reading material tends to be fluffy, funny, and/or frivolous. If she were stranded on an island with only one author's books she would take Dave Barry. She obsessively records what she reads and what she wants to read on GoodReads.

2 thoughts on “Not Taboo: Tattoos

  1. Great piece, Carol. Several of the books you mentioned are now on my reading list. I am also a tattooed woman; my first piece was done when I was in my 20s, and my second the year I turned 40. Recently I added a third from Tattoo Garden here in Everett.

    Being tattooed is a chance to own and display unique artwork with great meaning to me. Our culture has become a bit more tolerant of alternative art, but it will take years for us to fully escape the old-fashioned mindset that only those in the subculture embrace and display skin art.

    I love my ink, share my pieces and their significance eagerly, and hope to encourage others to consider adding some art to their lives.


  2. Thanks Jenn! You’re exactly right: we’re still a ways away from getting away from that old-fashioned mindset about tattoos. Although it is pretty funny when someone I don’t know well finds out I’m tattooed: oh my goodness, you have a What?!

    I think of tattoos as a great way to keep memories close. My wrist tattoo is in remembrance of my maternal grandmother. It’s a tattoo of a bird she used to wear on a necklace when my mom was growing up. My mom, my brother, and I all got the tattoo at the same time–the first tattoo for all of us. It was an amazing experience!

    And in January I met Tyler of Tattoo Evolution here in Everett and he helped recreate an amazing image from my childhood on my arm. It’s a Piasa Bird, a legendary creature from Native American folklore. (It eats people!)

    I haven’t figured out my next tattoo but I’m sure it will carry memories and help keep them close. I could do a family crest…or maybe I’ll just get an AT-AT to prove that they really don’t scare me anymore!


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