Think before you ink – and do necessary homework

Beware! Having yourself tattooed is not simply a matter of heading off to the nearest person waving an ink gun around.

MASTER ARTIST: Riaan Kruger, top, of the East Side Ink tattoo shop in Vincent works on an intricate design on Ivan Snyman’s forearm.
ARMED: Examples, above, of work from the East Side Ink tattoo shop
PACIFIC TRADITION: A tattooed Maori warrior, left, and an inked Maori chief photographed on December 28 1923
Pictures, left, right: GETTY IMAGES

Disasters happen – big time! And then you’re stuck with something that looks like a melting splatter on your body for, like, EVAH.

And there are also health risks. Serious ones.

Unhygienic tattoo needles can lead to tetanus, HepatitisB or HIV-infection. So safety and hygiene are crucial.

Lerito Roberts, owner of East Side Ink in Vincent, said the emergence on the market of do-it-yourself tattoo kits has resulted in people attempting to tattoo themselves or others at home.

These kits are available in certain stores and online, retailing from as little as R200.

This is compared to having a professional job done at a studio like East Side Ink where prices range from R300 to R15000 for a “bodysuit”.

Roberts said the obvious consequence of these kits is that back-street tattoo parlours have mushroomed, but these tattoos are generally very poorly done and need to be corrected.

“We now have many people claiming they’re tattoo artists. But after a month or so, the tattoo looks so awful that the clients come in here asking me to either fix it or cover it up. It’s actually bringing in so much work for me.”

He urged potential customers not to use cost as the main determining factor for where you have your tattoo done, but rather focus on finding the most professional artist.

“Focus on the quality of the work done. In many cases, but not always, a higher price is an indication of the experience and the quality of the work the artist will produce.”

And then do a little research yourself about the artist’s ability before you decide to go through with the tattoo.

“When you want to have a tattoo done, make sure you look at other work the artist has done before. Compare that work and see if the tattoos are actually supposed to look like that. Check the standard of the work – because a tattoo is for life.”

And then pay a personal visit to the studio to ensure that hygiene is the key priority.

“It’s a golden factor. Make sure the environment is really hygienic and make sure the artist is properly trained in the health and safety side. You don’t want to catch any diseases because they basically cut your skin open with their needles.” –


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