Is Your Shop Sanitary?

Nine times out of ten when a person goes to get a tattoo, they are looking for two things.

  1. Is the tattoo artist qualified and is their work clean looking?
  2. Cost- Is the tattoo of desire overpriced? Where is the best deal?

The issue in looking for the best deals is that many are not necessarily looking into the cleanliness of the shop and how business is run there. With having to be at an A inspection grade to keep as shop open, there are a variety of things to look at before setting up your next appointment. Below is a list of signs to look out for when choosing an appropriate and clean shop…

  1. Medical Equipment
    • The use of needles is an obvious idea when it comes to tattoos, but making sure your shop uses fresh ones for every single customer is essential to prevent any sort of cross-contamination and disease spreading.
    • Gauze, is the shop fully stocked? Do they use fresh and clean for every person? These are all things to look for even though it seems silly.
    • Cleaning supplies…green soap sound familiar? Maybe witch hazel? Always make sure your artist has a supply that is plentiful!
  2. Uncluttered
    • Look around and see that their workshops are free from any loose and unnecessary equipment that could cause distractions or contaminations
  3. Disposal
    • Looking and making sure that they are properly disposing of needles and contaminated napkins is always necessary
  4. Overall Upkeep of Shop
    • Take a peak around. Anything seem off? Leaks? Mold? Bugs? If you’re saying yes to any of these than it is more than evident that their inspection is either way out of date, or there is something else going on that you want no part of

It may seem silly to hesitate and look around the potential shop, but trust me it is worth it. The price may seem right, the artist may, but if the shop isn’t at top quality standards than start looking else where. Nothing is worse than putting your body in harms way for a tattoo and it may be an extra few weeks that you would have to wait…but that wait will be worth it.

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“Oh that’s what I had for breakfast!”

To start this off, my mother is my biggest inspiration, my superhero, and the most loving woman I know. In all honesty she is the reason I am still here on this planet today with all of the support she has given me personally from growing up as a little girl, to watching my family fall apart, to trying to put myself at the top in high school, to now putting myself through college while working a full time job; she has always had my back and been by my side through it all.

With that being said, obviously I wanted to make one of my tattoos 100% about her and all that she has done for me, but to make the situation just a little bit more sentimental, I promised her we could get matching ones for her birthday (though it was 8 months ago…better late than never!) Both of us know it sounds crazy but we got matching pineapples.

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Growing up my mother always decorated my house in primitive, country antiques and one of the biggest was pineapple….they were everywhere. As many do not know, pineapples are the colonial sign of welcome and that is where she fell in love with them. Now when trying to think of something that we could get, I thought of the first object that came to mind when I thought of my mother and immediately it went straight towards the yellow and green fruit. After many months of debating on designs and raising the money…we went to the tattoo shop. Below is a side by side as mine is on my right arm and hers falls on to her ankle.

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Below are going to be some pictures of the process of us going back to back on getting our tattoos. We of course went to my favorite shop, Electric Tattoo in Asbury Park, NJ and the artist of choice was Rich Heller who did an incredible job on both!

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This is Rich Heller putting up with another pre-tattoo photo from me

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This was the shading process of my tattoo when I was getting very irritated in the arm

Overall I am thrilled with how both turned out and the healing process is going smoothly on both parts! I am more than happy to have a tattoo in constant reminder of my best friend, my super hero, and most importantly my mother.

P.S. Rich Heller had pineapple for breakfast that same morning

The Little Lady

As I have mentioned previously, my friends and their support for my adventure and their love of tattoos is what keeps me going throughout this entire process. The other week one of my good friends won I guess you can call it an Instagram contest off of an artist I have mentioned before named Hans Ryan of Fast Times in Belmar, NJ. He posted a picture of a sketch of a woman’s face that was decorated with a floral head crown that if you contacted him via Direct Message and struck the best deal with him, you would be the only one with this custom tattoo. After seeing it, she had to message him and somehow struck such a cheap deal on such a beautiful piece. Below are pictures of her getting the tattoo, the mid process, and the finished product…

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The catch with the tattoo was that she gave full creative responsibility to Hans. He chose the coloring and how he wanted the shade the entire piece in how he envisioned it. Her sister and I were both in the room and he constantly asked us what we though would look good. Originally the flowers were to be different tones of reds and pinks but after really looking at the product we all came into conclusion that the roses should be a white, skin tone color because as he put it, “sometimes less is more”, and I can not disagree with that.

Overall the piece is beautiful and of course done with Eternal Ink that I have reviewed in previous posts. This tattoo is about 2 weeks old now and she is actually almost done healing after keeping her, “Little Lady”, moisturized, clean, and taking as much care of her as possible.

Tips on How to Not Annoy Your Tattoo Artist

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Alright, going to that tattoo shop especially for the first time is a nerve wrecking experience all in it’s own. Now many do not understand the etiquette that comes with going into the shop. As every business, the artists are professionals and this is where their career lies. So as a fellow lover of ink I comprised a list of ways not to annoy your artists.

  1. Please shower before hand. Tattooing is a very intimate where the artist is basically on top of you and do you really want to wreak up the entire shop because you did not feel like showering that day?
  2. Try your best not to move. Moving only interferes with the artist and nobody wants a random line going across them. Keeping still has its advantages and sometimes being a good client can actually reduce the cost of the tattoo especially an hourly rate artist. Without moving it gives the artists an ample amount of time to complete the tattoo without interruptions.
  3.  Friends. Bringing one maybe two is okay for emotional and moral support when getting tattooed, but bringing your mother, father, brother, sister, best friends, boyfriend/girlfriend is not cool at all. Overcrowding the shop does not only distract your artist but the others working in the shop as well. With constant talking and nagging on the artist, it will only piss them off in all honesty and making such an exciting experience disappointing.
  4. Try and keep quiet unless the artist asks you questions. Even though talking only requires mouth movement, there is still a risk of your body language changing as in shrugging or moving your hand and if your artist is on your arm for example, it puts more of a strain and need for concentration from the artist. Keeping quiet and still just helps so much.
  5. Do not take too many breaks. Now if you are going through a tattoo for 3+ hours then yes you need a break because of pain, swelling, a quick stretch or a cigarette. But a tattoo that should not take too long, do not ask for a break unless it is an emergency because news flash, you are not the only person in this world, and the artist does not have the time to spare so you can make multiple bathroom trips. They have other clients and other deadlines to make after your tattoo and prolonging will only cost more and irritate them.

Just A Few Days Later

So after just about 4 days after getting my elbow tattooed, which I must admit was an experience for me, I am well into the healing process. To disclaim, the healing process of tattoos is different for everyone and I am not justifying how it should be, but these are my experiences.

For the first few days I was in some minor pain that was just mainly irritation and some bruising that formed around the fine lines of the script of the tattoo. I am a big fan of constantly cleaning the affected area and especially since it is on my elbow that touches the dirty counters of where I work, keeping it clean is a big concern of mine.

To clean my tattoos, I have always preferred using a spray by the trademarked brand Bactin. It is a cleanser, pain relieving, and infection fighting spray that covers any affected areas and cleans them thoroughly. Spray the tattoo and its surrounding areas and with either a CLEAN wash cloth or even paper towel, gently pat the tattoo until mostly dry. After that comes the moisturizing process. Now if the tattoo becomes too dry and too brittle there is more of a risk of deforming the tattoo, losing some of the ink, and even infections (which I have had on my leg and let me say they are not fun at all). I prefer for the first few days after being tattooed, using a healing ointment named Aquaphor. Applying a thin layer every few hours seems to keep my tattoo from drying out completely which is a plus. The Bactin/Aquaphor duo that I use seems to really work for me and after the first couple of days I continue to clean with Bactin but substitute the ointment out for a regular lotion such as Lubiderm every so often to keep the moisture.

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This was the best close up picture I can get by myself of the tattoo where you can see that the redness for the most part has completely disappeared. I am still irritated in some ways especially when bending my arm back and forth. Looking at my arm towards the left there is definitely some swelling and the words are all individually raised which is very natural. Most of it has scabbed over completely which is a good sign of proper healing! I can not stress this enough, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE PICK AT YOUR SCABS! If you are to take a way any of the scabs that are on the tattoo you are prolonging the healing process and interrupting the natural flow of it.

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From another perspective of the tattoo (sorry not the best of quality) it is evident that I am going to need to get a touch up which is not a complete shock to me. Some of the lines appear to be shaky or even from just brushing up against my shirts of somethings at work so of my scabs partially came off. It also slightly appears that my skin could have rejected the ink as well. That is natural and happens to almost everyone depending on if your skin is sensitive, how heavy or light handed the artist was, and even the type of ink used. Looks like it might be another 2 weeks before I am completely healed and ready for touch ups.

All in all I am actual very happy with how easy this tattoo is healing. I am a typical person to take twice as long to heal apart from everyone else. I have fair and thin skin which makes my healing process much longer and usually much more painful unfortunately. Will keep updating and post a final healed picture in the future!

Let’s Make This Personal…

Since I have started this journey of explaining the importance of tattoos and how they effect one so deeply I thought I might as well get one to kick off a new beginning for me. As of today, I am officially at double digits, ten tattoos, yet I think number ten holds some of the most significance for me. I started this journey in my hometown of Belmar, NJ at the shop Fast Times.

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Now after explaining what I wanted and why (will reveal at the end), my artist, Hans, began to draw out exactly what I wanted and seen here I was being stenciled out for placement of my new piece.

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I think one of the most exciting moments of getting tattooed is laying down on one of the beds, smelling all of the cleaners, and hearing the roaring of the needles right before they begin to dig away and leave masterpieces in one’s skin. Above is, though a horrible picture, of me and Hans setting up right before the needle goes into my elbow leaving beauty.

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Just a casual mid-tattoo shot featuring Hans of Fast Times.

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After an agonizing half hour of constant back and forth into my arm, I was permanently left with the most beautiful reminder to myself. I explained to Hans that growing up I was always drowning within the depths of everything I hated about myself and what I was going through growing up in a broken family. It was not until recently that I began to learn to love myself and take care of me not for anyone else, friends, family, significant others, but most importantly myself. This quote is to remind me to fall in love with myself first before anything else.

Hans had used Eternal Ink which I will be reviewing in a later post if anyone was wondering. To review his tattooing style, he had a great hand in an especially sensitive area of the body. Now I have some tattoos in the most sensitive spots and to give a 1-10 scale of discomfort for around the elbow with 1 being the feeling of sunburn and 10 being the level of actually fainting, I would rate this a solid 7. Around the elbow is a very sensitive spot, especially with the fact that it goes over some major bones. During the process I was beat red in the face and sweating profusely throughout the half hour. This is just a personal examination of the pain and everyone will have a different tolerance for the pain. As for me this was a brutal spot, but it was beautifully done and well worth its pain!

The aftercare follows with wearing a bandage for 2 hours. Following the bandage you must clean, clean, and I can not say this enough CLEAN, the area that had just been tattooed. For about 2 days post tattoo one should put on a thin layer of healing ointment, I prefer Aquaphor, to help the process of healing and sealing the ink in. After that one can use regular lotion to maintain the tattoo and prevent dryness and cracking.