Thursday, November 3, 2005

To tattoo or not to tattoo...

If for some strange reason you have kept up with our blog, you may or may not have noticed that I have a few tattoos. There are pictures of a couple of them on the site for all to see. I thought it would be interesting to document my next tattoo.

I have always been fascinated with tattoos and how they are perceived by others. They have become mainstream and more tolerated over the last few years, but many people still react negatively to them.

Why?
I have to admit that being different is attractive to me. But, for me it has more to do with feeling like I have some control over the way I look. I'm overweight and I've struggled with how I look for years. Tattoo's give me a way to control my appearance. Don't get me wrong, I'm not getting tattoos for other people to look at, they are for me. I like the style of art and I love the way the art is changed by the body it's placed on. Each tattoo is a piece of art that will never be repeated. Sure, many people can get the same tattoo, but it will never look the same as it does on my skin in that location.

What about the pain?
For many it can be hard to understand why you would put your self through the pain of getting one. Trust me when I say the pain sucks. It probably doesn't hurt as much as you think it does, but it's not pleasant either. If I could get a tattoo without the pain, I would. The recovery can be worse than getting the tattoo, a few sleepless nights and a throbbing pain that lasts for several days after the tattoo. Once the work has healed you quickly forget about the pain and you get to admire how your body has changed.

What to get and where?
I'm currently working on my arms. I have decided that my next tattoo will be a half sleeve on my left arm. I choose my arms because their shape will not change too much with my weight. I can also see my arms; it's hard to see anything on your own back. The hardest part for me was the size. I've learned that small tattoos lack detail. What you can get is limited when you want it to be small. In general, the larger you go the better it will look.

What if you change your mind later?
If you aren't sure you want to get it, or your worried that you might not be happy with it in a few years, then don't do it. Tattoo removal never completely removes the tattoo. And, tattoo removal hurts worse than getting the tattoo in the first place. Don't get the work unless you are sure you want it.

It took me months and months to decide to start talking with an artist. Once I did, he took my ideas and helped me come up with something that I was happy with and that he would enjoy working on.

What will other people think? Will it affect my career?
The simple answer is many people will view your tattoo negatively. I'm constantly amazed at the difference in the way people treat me when I have tattoos exposed. Most young people do not appear to care one way or the other, although there are more likely to ask to see your tattoo or ask for information on where you got the work done. Many people will be rude or treat you as if you are untrustworthy. I can't imagine what it must have been like 10 or 20 years ago when tattoos weren't as common as they are today.

It is very likely that having a visible tattoo will affect your career at some point. I started with tattoos that were fairly easy to cover and most people never noticed them. I have become braver and I have started getting work done below the elbow. When I decided on doing a sleeve I had to think long and hard about how my employer would view it. They are very tolerant of most things and I don't have to follow any strict dress codes. I do expect to wear long sleeve shirts more often now, but I don't think there will be any real problems at work. I understand that my next employer may not be so lenient, but if a company won't hire me because I have tattoos, then I probably don't want to work there anyway.

Well anyway, I have just completed the outline on my new tattoo. There will be at least one more session, probably two, to finish it. This one is Japanese style with a demon face with a snake wrapped around it and my arm. I chose these images more for the way they look than for any of the possible meanings that can be associated with them.

Pictures on the way.