Surrealism is the new Real

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tattoos & Body Art

I admit, I LOVE tattoos.

Just the good ones though. I could care a less about the little hearts with a ribbon saying "Mom" or butterflies and tramp stamps. I've seen too many people walk into a tattoo parlour and get something that in 10 years will look terrible, and have no story or reason behind them besides "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

The body on its own is a work of art. Care for it well, and it can remain a thing of beauty. I'm not talking about losing weight, I am talking about caring for the skin, toning the curves, dressing it in garments that will not cause muffin tops or sag around you like a folded tent. If you get a tattoo, find a spot where it will work with your curves, and even as it fades, will not stretch or warp as your body changes. Part of the reason I do not have a tattoo is because I have had a hard time choosing the right image. So many images are important to me (go figure) and my life changes so quickly and so often if I got a tattoo every time I found something important to me, I would be covered head to toe.

Spring the money on a good tattoo artist. Cheap usually means "not very good". Ask to see a portfolio, and don't just go in because a friend said "I won't go anywhere else". Yes, everyone has to start somewhere, but the shops with the more talented artists tend to hold even apprentices to that standard, and teach them to that same level of expertise. References, referrals, and make the artist show you his previous work. Shading is especially important, because anyone can do an outline and fill in colour. Someone who does great shading and blending can bring it out from just a tattoo, to something that looks alive and breathing.

And most importantly, find the story. Don't just go into a tattoo parlour and ask for something without doing a little research. Find something important to you, an image or icon that represents something about you, a memory, or a time when you resisted and conquered earth-shattering change. It's going to be there a long time, and should be something you will care about even as it fades. And nothing in this world is permanent, except change, and a well-placed cared for tattoo will remain gorgeous long after the colour has begun to fade, and the body betrays you to old age.

Already got one, and don't like it? A good tattoo artist can help you cover it up. Removal is available, though the treatment can be expensive. Alternatives that I use frequently are henna, temporary paints, and Hollywood styles temporary tattoo inks. It allows me to indulge in decorating the body, mine or others, without having to worry about what it will look like in the future, or that I won't like it. It's very Zen, living only in the moment. If it weren't for the fact that needles tend to make me pass out, I might have become a tattoo artist. Instead, I have spent many days designing custom tattos for people, and recommending several tattoo artists that I know well, and have seen a large majority of their work. There is one in particular that will be my go-to guy when it comes to finally making that leap and getting inked. Someday, when my semi-nomadic life stops taking me everywhere and I can settle on an image.