Tattoo Q and A


Who did your tattoos?

  • Quinton Carnage of Ink Saints in Grahamstown, South Africa (above). Brilliant artist and very cheap (though see tips below for caveat on cheap tattoo artists!). And Aniele aka Fru Duva of Bläckbyrån in Stockholm.

Where are your tattoos?

  • I have one on my hip (a full-colour bumblebee), one on my ribcage (large-full colour dog and bird) and one on my inner thigh (a blue bungee jumper with the dates of my jumps underneath). Also an elephant on my right shoulder and Nelson Mandela’s prison number on my wrist.

Have you regretted them?

  • Not for a second. Probably because I was fairly old and settled when I had them done and did not do it on a whim. They are also not visible when I am dressed so almost no one knows they are there. I know I sound like an old lady here but if you are young and impulsive, try not to tattoo your face, neck and hands.

Were they sore?

  • No – the tingling sensation was bearable and even rather pleasant at times. Having tattoos done is known as being addictive to some and I can quite understand that. I don’t think I have a particularly high pain threshold and I don’t enjoy pain.

Ribcage tattoos are supposedly the most painful. Is that true?

  • I didn’t find it more painful than the others. I am thin so my ribs lie pretty much right under my skin but despite that it was not painful. I would imagine that the inside upper arm would be painful, as would the back of the heel.
  • Note that even though a ribcage tattoo is normally done while you are lying down, the artist should apply the transfer while you are standing up or at least check how you look when you stand up. Ribcages differ widely.

 How did you take care of your tattoos?

  • left the covering on for two hours
  • gently washed the area with antiseptic soap and patted dry
  • applied tattoo cream frequently
  • did not bath or swim for ten days
  • let the tattoo breathe after removing the initial covering
  • did not pick the scabs
  • no direct sunlight for a month and always applied sunscreen since then

Other tips?

  • Always wash your hands before touching your tattoo
  • When you get home: Remove bandage within 2-3 hours after getting your tattoo. Do not re-bandage.
  • Wash your tattoo with an anti-bacterial liquid soap. Be gentle, do not use a washcloth or anything that will exfoliate your tattoo. Only use your hands.
  • Gently pat your tattoo dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Do not rub, or use a fabric with a rough surface.
  • The first 3-4 days: Rub a small amount of ointment on your tattoo. You may use Bacitracin, A&D, Neosporin, or Tattoo Lube– whatever you know you’re not allergic to. Always use clean hands and do not place your fingers back into the ointment after touching your tattoo. Make sure to pat the ointment in so that it is not shiny, or greasy– you want the thinnest amount possible. Pat off any excess ointment with a clean cloth or paper towel. Do not use Vaseline, petroleum or Bag Balm. Wash, dry and apply ointment 3-5 times daily, as needed.
  • On the first night, you may want to wrap your tattoo in saran wrap to prevent sticking to your bedding. Do not use any cloth bandages or pads, as the fibers of this material can adhere to your open tattoo and hinder the healing process.
  • Wear clean, soft clothing over your tattoo for the first 2 weeks– nothing abrasive or irritating. For a foot tattoo: go barefoot as much as possible. If you must wear shoes, first wrap your clean tattoo in saran wrap, then cover with a clean cotton sock before putting on your shoe. Avoid sandals or flip flops for this period to prevent chafing and damage to the tattoo.
  • After day 4: On the 3rd or 4th day your tattoo will begin to peel. This is normal! Do not pick at the skin. Begin using a mild, white, unscented lotion, free of dyes or Perfumes.
  • Use lotion for minimum 2 weeks, 1-2 times daily.
  • Do not have a tattoo done when you are drunk. You will bleed more. Though a good artists will not tattoo someone who is too drunk to know what they are doing.
Things to avoid:
  • Do not pick, scratch, peel, slap, rub or irritate your tattoo.
  • You can shower, but you may not soak your tattoo for 2 weeks. No swimming, soaking or hot tub.
  • You may not expose your tattoo to the sun for at least 3 weeks, after that you must use sun block.
  • Do not wear abrasive materials, jewelry, or shoes that rub against your tattoo.
  • Do not let anyone touch your tattoo, unless they wash their hands.
  • Beware of gym equipment, wash it well before using it.
You can also
  • Take Ibuprofen for the swelling.
  • Ice your tattoo to reduce swelling.
  • Elevate your tattoo, to reduce swelling.
  • Take short showers.
If you do not take care of your tattoo, it may become infected or damaged. Infections are very red around the outside of the tattoo and may have thin red lines extending from it. It may ooze, pus, or bleed abnormally. If you think your tattoo is infected, seek medical attention immediately.
Choosing a tattoo artist
  • If you see a tattoo you like, ask where it was done
  • Have a look at artists in your area – ask to see examples of their work
  • Check that they use clean equipment for each customer
  • You get what you pay for so beware if things seem strangely cheap.
  • Most important will be to see their previous work – Quintin (below) can copy perfectly from a photograph but many artists cannot so beware because once it is on your skin it is on for life. Laser removal is eyewateringly expensive and does not always work.
Drawing the design
Quintin Carnage – Drawing the design
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Quintin CarnageTattooing the design
Quintin Carnage – Tattooing the design251127_1947632263180_1613766375_1985742_4638305_n

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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