Sunday, June 17, 2007

Tattoos--Graffiti or Art?

Updated 3/2017-- photos and all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active.

I must confess up front that I don't get tattoos. To me they are like graffiti on public buildings, not art or murals. To me the tattoo on a woman's shoulder ruins the lovely evening gown or sundress she wears. But that's me. I'm not alone--"Years ago, I naively failed to anticipate that laser tattoo removal would inevitably lead to—more tattooing. This is sad, because I have never met a tattoo more beautiful than the skin onto which it was placed. With equal naivete perhaps, I suggest that we should continue to work on making tattoos safer and more removable than ever. Otherwise, what looks like sunlight at the end of this tunnel is surely the headlight of an oncoming train filled with unhappy, tattooed passengers." R. Rox Anderson, MD, Department of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital.
Humans have marked their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. "These permanent designs—sometimes plain, sometimes elaborate, always personal—have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment. Joann Fletcher, research fellow in the department of archaeology at the University of York in Britain, describes the history of tattoos and their cultural significance to people around the world, from the famous "Iceman" a 5,200-year-old frozen mummy, to today’s Maori." (Smithsonian Magazine).

There was a nice article recently in the New York Times that covers the regret that often comes months to years later after getting the tattoo--"Erasing Tattoos, Out of Regret or for a New Canvas". Today's lasers have made it easier to have them removed, but the cost of removal is still many times the cost of getting one.

There is also safety issues to be considered (not just the regret factor) when getting a tattoo. Today's inks are not all specifically created for tattoos and may result in allergic reactions, infection, and severe cellular inflammation or excessive tissue growth around the wound site known as granulomas or keloid scars. These inks have known toxic and carcinogenic properties and are not easily removed even with the improved lasers.
These risks and complications led to the development of a new ink, Freedom-2, by leading dermatologists and academic institutions. This ink combines products known to be safe for human usage, making it safer and more easily removed. The innovation of safe, quality inks for the purpose of tattoos, permanent cosmetics and the creation body art is at the heart of Freedom-2. Freedom-2 inks are specifically designed to be easier to remove in the future.  

Tattoo removal can be done by laser, dermabrasion, or direct excision. None of these are necessarily simple, so if you see tattoos as art, please, just be sure you truly want it before proceeding. Then enjoy your "art".


jude said...

i think tattoos can be lovely on the young, but the old.... well i won't go there.

Sevenbeads said...

Can you imagine someone as ethereal as Audrey Hepburn, for example, with a big tattoo on her back or arm? I don't even want to imagine.

Anonymous said...

I adore my tattoo, but I agree that perhaps people should think twice before getting one. Doing it after a night on the town with friends will probably lead to buyer's remorse down the road. ;oD

LynnS said...

I've never met a tattoo I liked. LOL If I were to want some form of body art, I'd just get a pen and draw, knowing I could wash it off....I wish more people were familiar to the Henna inkings, what's up with all that blue ink, anyway? ;-(

Personally I hope the tattoo craze ends soon. The procedure is invasive and the typical "tattoo artist" does not have medical training.

Matt C said...

As a heavily tattooed professional working for the only Forutne 500commercial real estate firm (look it up), I certainly experience stares and looks nearly everyday. The vast majority of the tattooed community do not regret their tattoos and acknowledge that they will age with our bodies. While your blog cites reasons not to get tattoos (infections/diseases risks have essentially been eliminated at reputable studios), it seems that you don't like people with tattoos beacuse they have tattoos. You even go so far as to imply that everyone with tattoos will eventually want/need a laser removal process. Well here's an equally arrogant and asinine to say, "I just don't get 'sewing,' I mean if you want to 'waste your time' doing such activies as 'sewing,' go ahead and enjoy your 'art.'" Pretty silly sounding, huh? Get over yourself.

rlbates said...

Thank you for your opinion Matthew.

Matt C said...

I love how this blog concludes with "...enjoy your 'art,'" As if tattoos really aren't art. Here's an equally arrogant and asinine thing to say: "I don't get 'sewing,' go ahead and enjoy your 'art.'" Get over yourself.

Nic said...

I think the person who has written this passage is clearly un educated about about tattoos. Has a narrow minded view based on a fear of the unknown, much the same as racism or homophobia. What gives the right of this person to presume anything about anyone connected to tattooing.