Thursday, 23 January 2014

To tattoo or not tattoo?! And what to do when it goes wrong!

Getting Tattoos vs Tattoo Removal

For my first wedding anniversary back in 1998, Ian and I had tattoos done.  I had a simple bracelet style tattoo around my wrist and Ian had a dragon headed sword design on his upper arm.  We arrived at the tattoo parlour on Ian's motorbike, all revved up and ready to be inked by local tattoo artist 'Big Dave'.  I really enjoyed the searing, sharpness of the inking needle as it marked my skin.  Unfortunately Ian was not so keen and ended up passed out in the seat having smelling salts wafted under his nose to wake him up!

Ian's tattoo

While we were waiting to be seen, we sat in the waiting room with a group of young girls who had designed their own tattoos.  They expectantly clutched their designs sketched on A4 paper along with the signed (possibly forged?) permission slips as they were under 18.  I will never forgot the girl who went before me, coming out with an ugly, big, bright purple heart dripping with teardrops tattooed on the top of her boob. She looked delighted with her very visible, self-designed body art, but I just knew she would live to regret that decision.  I envisioned her in the future, wearing a wedding dress with that angry heart tattoo clearly on show and felt remorse on her behalf. I imagine that a few years after having that monstrosity done she was Googling laser tattoo removal!  It really was just so ugly and so very visible and so permanent.

Ever since that first tattoo I have wanted more, but just have never gotten around to getting one.  I can't decide what design I want or where I want it.  I just know I want one.  Ian and I came up with a design for a tattoo that we planned to get done for our tenth wedding anniversary.  It was a pattern that incorporated both of our initials in an abstract design.  But it just never happened.  Having moved away from our home down South to Shropshire, we no longer had Big Dave and his tattoo parlour on our doorstep.  Not knowing many tattooed people to get recommendations from meant we would be taking a huge gamble if we went somewhere that we knew nothing about.  We've all seen photographs of tattoos that have gone wrong, words misspelled, Chinese characters that don't mean what they say they do, smudgy flowers, deformed dolphins and wonky linework that looks like a 5 year old had drawn it.  Getting a tattoo is a big decision!  I would not want to regret having one.  I'd need to be certain that the design was perfect and would have longevity. But such precautionary thinking isn't always the case.

My wrist tattoo

With more and more people getting tattoos over the recent years, it is no surprise that a percentage of them will get bored with the design or regret having a permanent marking in a prominent place.  What looks appropriate on a young, trendy teen may not suit a 40 year old business woman. Tattoos of partner's names can be terrible reminders of relationships gone wrong. (Remember Johnny Depp's 'Winona Forever' tattoo that he had altered to 'Wino Forever'?) I wouldn't want my husband to have the name of his ex permanently inked on his body, it'd be horrendous to have your man's past love life flaunted in your face everyday.   Drunken tattoos can result in some terrible decisions. Coming home from a holiday abroad with an inappropriate tattoo emblazoned across your body is a very unwanted souvenir of a boozy night out.

I used to have a friend.  A very gorgeous, tall woman with a mane of beautiful red hair, who bore an uncanny resemblance to supermodel Claudia Scheiffer.  She dressed in designer clothes which she wore so well over her slim built body.  She was the kind of woman that turned heads wherever she went.  But she had a secret. As a rebellious 16 year old, she had a tattoo of a large, naked, baby devil complete with pitchfork on the top of her arm.  She very quickly regretted the gawdy cartoon character with his very visible genitals and had extra work done latterly to transform him into a Fireman devil.  His pitchfork became a hosepipe and a little uniform covered him up, giving him a little dignity.  But it was still awful and looked so wrong on such an elegant arm. She always covered up, even in the summer.  I lost touch with her when I moved away, but I still wonder what became of that little devil. Is he still there, an embarrassing reminder of her rebellious youth or was he the victim of successful tattoo removal??

Nowadays, there are some great treatments for the removal of tattoos, such as the popular laser treatment which works by breaking down the pigment using light produced by the laser.  It is a simple, safe and effective way of getting rid of unwanted tattoos.  Clinics such as Sk:n offer this treatment (along with other skin treatments for conditions from acne to verruccae).  They offer a free nurse consultation and have a transparent pricing structure so you know exactly how much it will cost before you commit to treatment.  So if you have a tattoo that you have grown to hate, you don't have to put up with it!

I love watching NY Ink, Miami Ink and LA Ink and the new tattoo gameshow, Inkmaster, on TLC.  I even love watching America's Worst Tattoos.  Body art really fascinates me.  Some of it is so beautiful, telling a story that is permanently etched on the canvas of the skin. Some are so bad you wonder what possessed someone to ever think it was a good idea. Celebrities seem to be guilty of allowing their bodies to become indelibly marked with bad tattoos.  Just look at Harry Styles's Sharpie Marker-esque tattoos. They are awful! The two swallows on his chest just look silly.  And Dappy's neck tattoo, although a lovely sentiment, just looks tacky and too big.  And as for Jodi Marsh's broccoli tattoo...just why!? And don't get me started on Cheryl Cole's giant rose covered bum!

If I found a tattooist that I trusted I would love to have my original tattoo redone and embellished.  Over the years it has lost its definition and looks a bit tired.  I would love to give it a brand new lease of life and extend it. I'd also love Ian to have his design extended into a full sleeve. I bloody love a full sleeve on a man! Unfortunately, given the fact that he passed out with his first inking, a full sleeve is probably a bit ambitious! So instead I'll just look at David Beckham and Adam Levine when I want to get a full sleeve fix!

Check out Sk:n's blog to find other articles about tattoo removal and clinic treatments.

This post was written in collaboration with Sk:n.


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