tattoo piercing celtic maori Japanese body art symbolism self esteem body positivity trans queer lgbtqia lgbtq lgbt skin
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Article by:
Dean M.
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May 8, 2024
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Why Do People Get Tattoos?

The art of tattooing has been around for a very long time. Getting tattoos (and piercings too!) spans throughout multiple regions of the globe, each with its own cultural heritage of tattoo art, such as Celtic, Maori or Japanese tattoos to name a few.

As a body art, the symbolism behind tattoo designs can have important meaning to someone. And in my experience, the tattoo placement can effect positively self-esteem and promote body positivity.

Why get a tattoo?

I love tattoos. I have 12 of them, all in black ink. My first tattoo was on my ankle. It wasn’t the most meaningful, but it opened up a world of possibilities of connecting with my body in a novel way.

Most of my ink is on my thighs, a body part that I’ve always had a difficult relationship with. As a trans person, dysphoria always crept up around my hip and thigh area. A way that I have found to move past this has been trusting tattoo artists onto my skin.

Finding ways to love yourself can be so varied. This kind of body modification spoke to me: tattoo ideas can be symbolic and creative, intricate and personal. The environment of a good tattoo shop is also quite special, as tattooers, in my experience, will allow a space for deep sharing while you get inked up. I’ve found the tattoo world to be non-judgmental and open-minded personally.

Your first tattoo

Getting a tattoo all starts by contacting a tattoo artist. Looking through tattoo parlors’ social media accounts will show you different tattoo styles and designs possible. Artists generally share their flash tattoo ideas there, which are pre-made available designs. Walk-ins, if allowed, means you can get a feel for the tattoo studio too.

If none of the available tattoo artwork speaks to you, most artists are open to custom work, where you work together in creating the tattoo design idea. Anything is possible: people get themes (like nautical, tribal, geometric, mandala), lettering fonts for words or phrases, nature based (roses, a butterfly, an elephant)… the list goes on. Thinking about your tattoo idea may take time, but it’s worth being certain. A bit of a bummer to get tattooed then have to deal with cover-ups or laser tattoo removal…

It’s good to also consider the size (small tattoo vs. full sleeve), the colors (black, black and grey, colors) the shading and overall tattoo style (blackwork vs. Fine line vs. realism). It’s also okay to ask for a price estimate, but always take a bit more cash just in case. Once, my tattoo artist and I had misunderstood each other and it required him reworking the entire tattoo design. Since it was partially my miscommunication, I was able to pay for the adjustments and the extra time spent. Everyone left happy.

Let me answer this burning question: how bad will my tattoo hurt? Well, it depends on the tattoo placement and your pain tolerance. Overall, I’ve described the sensation of stick and poke like a very deep nail scratch dragging into you. A tattoo machine is similar but a bit more stabbing. The closest I could describe my most painful tattoo would be someone plucking your hair repeatedly. It’s intense, very localized pain. But manageable, I’ve got 12 after all.

Recovery for your new tattoo

Tattoo aftercare to allow proper scarring is so important for it to look good healed later on. Once the tattoo done, the tattooist usually has a set of guidelines they give to customers about aftercare. An amazing tattoo comes with amazing aftercare. Follow those instructions, which usually have to do with stopping certain physical activities and avoiding contamination of your tattooed area for a set amount of time.

A tattoo will peel and itch a lot. Resist the urge, and keep the site clean. Tattoo ink may look like it’s falling off, but it’s just the old skin shedding and healing. Once healed, you can show off your new ink. That’s when it sinks in that this tattoo is a part of you, and will follow you everywhere. I will warn you though, your last time at the tattoo parlor is never the last time!

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