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Can You Read These Tattoo History Facts Without Wanting to Get Inked?

Cristian Petru Panaite was always intrigued by his grandfather’s tattoo.It was a fairly small depiction of a woman and – although his grandfather didn’t like to discuss it – Panaite knew it must have been hard to get in 1950s communist Romania.

With this as his only window into the tattooing world, the New York Historical Society’s assistant curator grew up with little understanding of the traditions and culture surrounding the art of getting inked.

Now, after a year of careful preparation for the museum’s “Tattooed New York” exhibit, which opened at the beginning of February, Panaite has an entirely new appreciation for what is perhaps the world’s most personal art genre.

With a centuries-old plot featuring sailors, Native American kidnapping, presidents, sideshow acts, and possibly some Hepatitis B –- the history of tattoos is a story that even people who already have tattoos probably don’t know the half of.

It’s such an inspiring tale, in fact, that after only one month of tracing it, Panaite was in a studio getting a tattoo of his own — a tribute to his mother. Then, with a few more months of tattoo education, the previously skeptical curator added a second. He says he’s already got ideas for his third, and maybe fourth.

So, here we’ve compiled the ten most interesting tidbits from 300 years of tattooing in New York. Fair warning, this content has been proven to inspire tattoo addiction.

 

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Tattoos were once used as a form of identification.

Native Americans who couldn’t read English would sometimes draw pictures of their tattoos in lieu of signing their names.

Drunken sailors would also rely on tattoos to prove their identity, since they often failed to keep track of physical documents.

Then, with the 1936 invention of social security numbers, all kinds of people were going to parlors to get the eight digits permanently painted into their skin.

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You’ve definitely heard of the person whose breakthroughs allowed for the invention of the tattoo gun.

The electric pen – which revolutionized the art of tattooing by making it quicker, cheaper, and accessible to everyone – was actually invented by Thomas Edison.

Though the famous mind behind the lightbulb had intended the creation to reproduce handwritten manuscripts, he accidentally ended up giving himself a few tattoo dots as he was testing it out.

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They used to be a symbol of “high class” in America.

After the Prince of Wales got tatted up on an 1862 visit to Jerusalem, many other royals around Europe quickly followed suit.

By the 1890s, members of American high society were desperate to get in on the trend.

New York locals offered the artist behind some of the royal ink $12,000 to open a shop in the city.

By 1900, 75 percent of the Big Apple’s most fashionable women sported designs ranging from birds to butterflies to calligraphy.

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some tattoos needed wardrobe upgrades.

During wartime, soldiers keenly missed the company of women. But with tattoos of naked or scantily clad ladies, they never had to feel so alone again.

Eventually, the Navy banned the ever-present porn. So soldiers hoping to make it into that prestigious class needed their tattoos to clean up their act. A booming “cover-up” business began with soldiers paying tattoo artists to put some clothes on their lady friends.

When one artist was charged with spreading disease due to unclean needles, he argued that he was doing “essential war work.” His fine was reduced and he was told to carry on.

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Not all of the early tattoos were fashionable.

Olive Oatman never wanted the face tattoo that made her famous. But when she was captured by Native Americans in 1851, her chin was permanently marked with a blue tribal design.

After killing most of her family, the tribe enslaved Olive and her younger sister.

Though Oatman later claimed that the tattoo was meant to mark her as a slave, scholars suspect it was actually intended as a symbol of belonging, meant to help Olive enter the after-life.

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Having tattoos was once a full-time job.

Sailors were the first to realize that their heavily inked bodies were so intriguing to the general public that people would pay to get a closer look.

Eventually, sideshow acts began popping up all over the city.

Nora Hildebrandt (pictured) holds a legacy as “the first professional tattooed lady.”

Trying to cash in on the fame of Olive Oatman, she spread rumors that she had been kidnapped, tied to a tree, and forcibly tattooed once every day for a year.

In reality, she was mostly inked by her own father – America’s first tattoo artist.

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Tattoos were banned in New York from 1961 until 1997.

Though the ban was reportedly a response to outbreaks of Hepatitis B, undercover shops persisted and were rarely shut down by police.

Pictured: Tattoo designs were drawn on this window shade in the 1960s so they could be easily hidden in case of a raid.

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Women and tattoos go way back.

The idea that ink is a sign of promiscuity, which is still commonly held today, began in the mid 1900s.

There were even several instances when New York courts ruled against a woman plaintiff seeking harassment charges solely because of her body art.

Eventually though, women reclaimed the use of ink as a sign of power and independence – with many of the gallery’s portraits featuring survivors of breast cancer who have tattooed over their scars.

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Tattooing Animals: Abusive or Artistic?

Animals and tattoos are two very wonderful things. What do you think about tattooing animals?
Incredible tattoo professionals like Lithuanian artist Domantas Parvainas- crafter of some stellar animal portraits, would agree. So would the well-known Mike DeVries, who’s responsible for putting together stunningly realistic animal portraits. What about when these two elements don’t mix? What about animals who have tattoos of their own? Sure, a Poodle with a portrait makes for an entertaining image, but taking that idea beyond Photoshop art seems to be crossing lines. Believe it or not, some pet owners-who are also tattoo artists-blur the boundary between artistic and abusive.
North Carolina man, Ernesto Rodriguez who is a veteran and tattoo artist, took the liberty of injecting ink into his own to Pit Bull puppies. At first Rodriguez claimed the dog was asleep and didn’t feel a thing, then came the later add-on that the dog was actually sedated. The statements he’s made in articles are inconsistent. Whether the dog was asleep or sedated, does that make it okay for him to tattoo something that doesn’t have a voice of its own?
Another artist did the same thing to his dog. Mistah Metro who works at Red Legged Devil tattoo parlor (owned by tattoo artist Chris Torres who was featured on both Miami and New York Ink) did the same thing as Rodriguez. He decided to tattoo his pet that was under sedation after a surgical procedure. Metro didn’t tattoo his dog in the shop so they’re in the clear, but what veterinarian would allow somebody to tattoo an animal in their office?
Although it is not illegal to tattoo a dog, the ASPCA condemns the practice for anything other than identification purposes. ‘Tattooing an animal for the vain sake of joy and entertainment of the owner without any regard for the well-being of the animal… is not something the ASPCA supports, a spokesman for the group told the New York Post.”
The practice was banned in New York with the exception of medical and identification purposes. Consequences for tattooing and/or piercing an animal in the state of New York range from up to 15 days in jail and $250 in fines.
Ernesto Rodriguez took it upon himself to tattoo the thin skin of his own dog’s belly.
What’s more bothersome; the absent-minded idea to tattoo a being that can’t give consent or that the tattoo itself is just horrible?
Mistah Metro proudly posted this picture of him tattooing his dog on Instagram.
Just because the pup won’t feel any of the tattooing process doesn’t mean it won’t have to endure the irritating itch that comes with healing. Not to mention the fur that will eventually grow back and cover the design.
A close up of the traditional artwork.
AIMS-Animal Tattoo Identification Systems
Identification tattoos are legal, AIMS claims to tattoo their animals in a safe non-toxic manner.
Ear tags like this one are another common way to mark and keep track of livestock.
Tattooing a number inside a dog’s ear is helpful for tracking purposes.

The above photo strikes a personal chord. Service Dogs commonly have identity tattoos, I’ve had two Service Dogs in my life, both had identification numbers tattooed on their inner right ear. Every dog is tattooed because not every owner chooses the microchip option.

 

Tattooed hairless cat
No, this is not Lil Jon’s cat, the tattoos on this feline aren’t that horrible. Apparently tattooing cats is a legal although questionable trend happening in Moscow, Russia. ‘Cattooing’ is a process that takes around three hours. Putting an animal under anesthesia is a risk in itself, is it worth it just to make the owner happy?
Tattoo artist Kat Von D with one of her beloved hairless cats.
Cattooing or having tattoos while holding cats?

Scarification Is The New Tattooing Technique

Scarification is the new extreme form of tattooing and it is not for people who have a low pain threshold. However, the results can be stunning and these customers have been very happy with the outcome. They are a little scarred from the experience though.

 

1. Skull imprints.

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2. Brand-on flowers. (Get it? He is the lead singer from The Killers)

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3. A scar to show her dedication to being a fruitarian.

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4. A completely healed intricate design.

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5. An African model poses with her tribal scarification.

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6. An old skull logo eight years after it was cut into this man’s flesh.

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7. Scarred sternum.

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8. Scar tissue.

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9. Scar by numbers.

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10. A perfectly healed design.

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11. This octopus has left its mark.

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12. Hand prints on her heart and ribs.

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13. Scarface. (Had to be said)

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14. Wishing on a dandelion.

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15. “The story of your life, your scars are.”

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16. Finding peace within.

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10 Crazy Tattoo Laws From Around The World!

 39244Countries create certain rules and regulations to oversee the tattoo industry.Here are 10 of the craziest tattoo laws from around the world!

 

1) Denmark 
Since 1966 it has been illegal to tattoo someones hands, head and neck on Danish soil!!

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Those hands weren’t tattooed in Denmark!

 

2) Ireland

While Ireland has no specific tattoo legislation, most tattoo shops won’t tattoo under 18, but some tattoo shops have been know to tattoo people as young as 14 with parents consent.

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 Tattooed children

 

3) Dubai

Tattooing in Dubai is completely illegal and ink usually has to be covered in public… at least your awesome back piece won’t get sun damage…

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Dubai Tattoo Law

 

4) Georgia, U.S

If you live in Georgia and want some permanent make up then there is bad news for you –  the state has ruled that it is unlawful to tattoo within an inch of the eye socket. You can kiss that permanent eyeliner goodbye!

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Georgia Tattoo Law

 

5) Iowa, U.S

The age limit for getting a tattoo in Iowa is 18, but if you’re truly desperate for some ink there is a way around it; marriage. Yep, married under 18 year-olds are free to get their tattoo game on.

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These kids clearly just want some awesome ink!!

 

6) Finland 

Much like Iowa, Finland has a loop hole to get tattooed under 18, all you need is a permit! How you get such a permit you will have to find out for yourselves.

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Finland Tattoo Law 18+

 

7) Hawaii 

If you live in Hawaii and want a behind ear or eyelid tattoo, you are more than welcome to go get one! This happens only under the supervision of a registered physician, though. Hawaiian doctors just love some good tattooing!!

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Hawaii Tattoo Law, “Good Nite” tattoos on eyelids

 

8) Netherlands 

16 year-olds in the Netherlands are free to get tattooed as long as they have parents consent. That consent however has to be provided in written form and the tattoo shop has to keep it locked in a file for 10 years!

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Netherlands Tattoo Law

 

9) Iran 

Tattooing in Iran is legal, but is challenged by Islamic laws and people with tattoos have been known to get arrested and fined for showing their body art.

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Islamic Tattoo Law

 

10) Adelaide, Australia

A recent law in Adelaide has seen members of motorcycle clubs and their associates banned from operating tattoo parlous!

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Adelaide Tattoo Law

Tattoo Sanitation

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Sanitation

  •  Can I get infectious diseases from tattoo needles?
  •  What to look for in a sanitary shop environment?
  •  Can I get AIDS from tattooing?
  •  Can my tattoos get infected?
  •  How to look for sterilization?
  •  Are there any medical conditions that will preclude me from getting a tattoo?
  •  Should I get a vaccination shot against hepatitis?

Can I get infectious diseases from tattoo needles?

There has been some concern recently regarding transmittable diseases (particularly Hepatitis-B and AIDS [HIV]) and tattoo shops. Just as in a dentist’s office, as long as the area is strictly sanitized, your chances for infection will be greatly reduced.

Note: If you plan on getting lots of body art (pierces or tattoos), you should seriously consider getting immunized against Hepatitis-B. Hep-B is a much more serious concern than HIV as the virus is much more virulent and easier to catch.

What to look for in a sanitary shop environment

The current popularity of tattooing and body piercing has also brought on an increase in potentially hazardous conditions. For this reason, I am posting the following guideline of what to look out for (in this situation, “artist” refers to both tattooists and piercers):

Lighting

The area must be well-lit so the artist can see what s/he is doing.

Counter and floor space should be lightly coloured, preferably white so dirt shows up easier.

The spray bottle the artist uses on your skin should be disinfected between customers, or some kind of protective film such as Saran Wrap should be used.

Disposing needles

All needles must be either discarded after EACH use (or at least with each new customer), or autoclaved. Many body piercers operate out of small booths and may not have spent money for an auto-claver, in which they MUST dispose of each needle. NO EXCEPTIONS. Reusing piercing needles is equivalent to sharing IV drugs with strangers.

Needles touching other things

The needles, once open from their sanitary packages, must not be placed on un sanitized surfaces. The piercer should NOT set the needle down on the table, or, heaven forbid, DROP THE NEEDLE ON THE FLOOR!!! If this happens, insist they open a new needle.

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Gloves

The artist must wash their hands prior to putting on their gloves, preferably with an antibacterial/antiseptic solution. Once they put their gloves on, they should not touch anything other than your skin,and the needle. They should not be filling out receipts beforehand, or answering the phone–unless these have been wiped clean beforehand.

 Is there a sink separate from the bathroom sink?

Does the artist use a disposable razor when shaving skin?

Sterile materials should be stored in sealed containers away from things that could cause body fluids or ink to splash on them -The palate that holds the ink caps should be covered with Saran Wrap -After tattooing, the ink caps should be discarded and the ink not reused or poured back into the bottles

Be particularly wary of “outdoor fair booths.” While many are run by caring, experienced artists, these booths allow fly-by-night operators to make some fast money and disappear. If you don’t know the artist, spend time watching them work on others first. Are they reusing needles? Do they use needles that have dropped on the ground?

Can I get AIDS from tattooing?

IMPORTANT NOTE: This section refers to tattooing specifically, and not to other forms of body art. Some, such as piercing and cutting, require the breaking of the client’s skin to a deeper level than what is achieved with a modern tattoo machine.

Obviously there is some concern about AIDS and tattooing because when you get a tattoo, you bleed. But the mechanism of transmission needs to be better understood.

AIDS is transmitted by intimate contact with bodily fluids, blood and semen being the most common. Intimate contact means that the fluid carrying the AIDS virus (HIV) enters into your system.

Injection drug users (IDUs) use hollow medical syringes and needles to inject drugs directly into their bloodstream. It is common practice to withdraw a little blood back into the syringe to delay the onset of the high. When needles are passed from IDU to IDU and reused without sterilization, some of that blood remains in the syringe and is passed on to the next user. If infected blood is passed, the recipient can become infected with HIV, which leads to AIDS.

Tattooing is VERY different from injecting drugs. The needles used in tattooing are not hollow. They do, however, travel back and forth through a hollow tube that acts as an ink reservoir. The tip of the tube is dipped into the ink, which draws a little into the tube. As the needle withdraws into the tube, it gets coated with ink. When it comes forward, it pierces your skin and deposits the ink. You then bleed a little through the needle hole. This happens several hundred times a second.

You are only at risk of infection if you come in contact with infected blood. Since it is only *your* skin that is being pierced during the tattooing process, only *your* blood is being exposed. This means that the only person at greater risk is the artist, because s/he is the only one coming in contact with someone else’s (potentially infected) blood. This is why reputable (and sane) tattoo artist wears surgical gloves while working.

Another source of infection is through the use of infected tools. *This is why it is IMPERATIVE that you make sure your tattoo artist uses sterile equipment.* Needles and tubes need to be autoclaved before EACH AND EVERY time they are used. Ink should come from separate cups and not directly from the bottle. Any leftover ink should be disposed of and not reused under ANY circumstances.

The key to HIV transmission is *transfer of bodily fluids.* Evidence indicates that infection may require a (relatively) substantial amount of fluid to be passed. A pin prick almost certainly won’t do it. HIV is also a very fragile virus that cannot survive long outside the human body, and is very easy to kill via autoclaving. (I have heard of using bleach to sterilize needles. While bleach is an effective HIV killer, I’m not sure of the procedures for cleaning the equipment after bleach cleaning. As I personally have no desire to have bleach put under my skin, I go with autoclaving as the proper way to sterilize).

If your tattoo artist maintains sterile conditions and procedures, there is almost no risk of infection. I say “almost” because any risk, no matter how miniscule, is still a risk and must be recognized. That said, I am the proud owner of a Jolly Roger tattoo on my right shoulder because I knew my tattooist and knew he had sterile conditions

Can my tattoos get infected?

Not as long as you take care of your new tattoo.  There is a section in the FAQ that covers healing methods in depth. Some people have trouble healing tattoos with colours they are allergic to. If it gets infected and refuses to heal after a few days of using a topical antibiotic, you may want to check with a doctor. Keep in mind this assumes you are a healthy individual without any condition that suppresses your immune system.

How to look for sterilization

Check out the shop thoroughly. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by a clean look. If the needles are not disposed of after each person, then it MUST be “autoclaved.” Autoclaving is a process that pressurizes the instruments and kills any virus or bacteria that might transmit viruses or bacteria. My dentist has two auto-clavers–one gas and one steam–both pressurizing down to 250fsw. He also has spore samples that he autoclaves and sends to a pathology lab to make sure the machines are working.

Ask the artist how they clean their needles. If they don’t say they auto-clave, you are taking your risks. If they say they do, ask to see their machine. Note that in some states, autoclaving is required by law. Other common-sense types of things include throwing out the ink after each customer. Make sure the artists have small wells for each ink colour that they dispense from a larger container, and that these are thrown out after work on you is done. Compare the conditions of the shop to that of your dentist–does the artist wear gloves? Are the areas sprayed clean?

According to the Environmental Health Center, each year, a few cases of Hep-B are reported in people who’ve gotten tattoos within the last two months, but they have not been able to trace the disease back to its source, nor attribute it directly to the tattoo. If you think about it, the tattooist is much more at risk, as s/he has to touch the customer’s blood. While an autoclave will kill the HIV virus, it is not because of the efficacy of the ‘clave, but because of the weakness of that particular virus. Far more insidious is Hepatitis, which is more tenacious, and which a ‘clave does not always kill. Hepatitis is easier to transmit than HIV but all the bugs will be killed IF the autoclave is run properly (i.e., set hot enough & long enough). Some instruments can not, however, be autoclaved since they can not take the heat.

OffTheClothBoffs ADVICE !

EVERYONE should be using disposable needles.

The chemical bath is only as effective as how fresh is it, how concentrated, what chemicals, how “dirty” or contaminated the instruments, how long in the bath, which particular bug is under attack, etc. It is not the device, autoclave or chemical bath, that is as important as the operator. There are many different bugs out there. HIV may be one of the most deadly and Hep among the more easily transmitted but many others have to be considered (including Chlamydia, the infection rate of which is 20%!)  If the artist or piercer is conscientious, reliable and knowledgeable, either device could serve. Again my general rule still stands: “EVERYONE should be using disposable needles.”

The skin should be cleaned with antibacterial soap and water and scrubbing before the procedure to lessen the normal population of germs on the hide. Alcohol doesn’t do much but tends to degrease and cool, so no harm but no substitute.

USE OF DISPOSABLE GLOVES: A conscientious, professional tattooist or piercer will often go through A DOZEN DISPOSABLE GLOVES on one client. Gloves SHOULD be changed every time they touch unsanitized items with their gloves. If you see that the artist does not change gloves after answering the phone, they are not being sanitary. Marginally acceptable is if they pick up the phone (or other objects, such as pencil) with a tissue. Optimally, they should use a new pair of gloves after each potential contamination.

Are there any medical conditions that will preclude me from getting a tattoo?

If you have hemophilia.

If you have multiple allergies, you can always have the artist do a “patch test” on you with the colours you want prior to returning for a regular tattoo. This is similar to patch tests done for perms and hair colouring, and will help you determine if your body will react to some of the pigments.

Also, it is generally not considered a good idea to tattoo pregnant women.

Should I get a vaccination shot against hepatitis?

Without everyone worried about HIV transmission, it is easy to forget that hepatitis (specifically hep-B) is a much stronger and virulent virus to worry about. Fortunately, you *can* get protection against both hepatitis A and B! Check with your health insurance to see if it’s covered–otherwise, you might have to shell out £200 or so for both. There are two shots (injected a month apart) for hep-A, and three shots (injected over the course of six months) for hep-B. You are strongly urged to get protected if you are planning to get tattoos *OR* pierces on a regular basis.

As a warning however, note that a very small percentage of individuals react negatively to Hepatitis B vaccines, and could actually become ill from the vaccines themselves. If you are contemplating getting vaccinated for Hep B, talk to your health care professional to weigh the risks against the benefits. Note: Not all health care professionals are apprised of the most current statistics on the adverse effects of Hep B vaccines

Care of new Tattoos

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General Advice From A Medical Doctor

 

Care of new Tattoos

  •  General Advice From A Medical Doctor
  •  Common Misconceptions With No Basis In Reality
  •  What Are Some Bad Things For My New Tattoo?
  •  It Is True That Suntanning To A Considerable Extent Not Only Damages Your Skin But Fades The Tattoos?
  •  How Do I Care For My New Tattoo?

Common Misconceptions With No Basis In Reality

1. “Vaseline makes a tattoo faded”. The ink is underneath the epidermis and the outer layer of dermis. There’s NO WAY that vaseline can get down through the epidermis to draw out any of the ink.

2. “Swimming makes a tattoo faded”. For the same reason as the above, pool chlorine does not get to the ink to fade it. Common sense precautions include not swimming in a public pool with a raw sore, such as a new tattoo while oozing or completely raw. After the first 2 days, the surface over the tattoo is impervious and (from personal experience as well as science background) it is OK to swim.

What Are Some Bad Things For My New Tattoo?

SAUNA OR STEAMROOM

Once it is healed, there is very little that will screw up a tattoo. The one exception is prolonged exposure to sunlight. (the other is scarring, but that is patently obvious).

SUNLIGHT

Well, unfortunately it is. The newer inks are better at resisting fading but whatever you do, if you spend lots of time in bright sunlight your tats will fade (over a lifetime, not over a week). Best to try and keep them out of bright sunlight. No one wants to become a cave dweller just to keep their tats looking good, so just use some common sense. Think of your tat as an investment–slather on that sunblock so it doesn’t turn into a dark blob.

Our culture has erroneously labelled the tan as healthy. Did you know that your tan is your skin’s way of dealing with the damage caused by the sun? It’s like the formation of a scab when you have a cut. You will pay for your years of sun exposure when you are in your 40s and 50s

Leathery, wrinkled, dry skin with freckles and liver spots. Melanoma. Skin cancer.

It Is True That Sun-Tanning To A Considerable Extent Not Only Damages Your Skin But Fades The Tattoos?

The UV light rays that damage skin can get below the outermost surface of the skin (that’s why skin cancers are promoted by excess sunbathing).

The following is information about suncare and sunblock:

1.Try to use products that do not clog your pores. If your sunblock makes you break out or feel itchy, this may be the cause.

2. Avoid sunblock containing PABA, apparently found to be carcinogenic.

3. “SPF” stands for Sun Protection Factor. If you can normally stay out for ten minutes without getting sunburnt, then an SPF 2 should protect you for 20 minutes, an SPF 6 for an hour, and so on. HOWEVER, this does *NOT* mean an SPF 30 will let you stay out for five hours with just one coat. Keep your exposure limited to the minimum amounts, and always use an extra strong sunblock with at least SPF 30 for your tattoo.

4. “Waterproof” and “sweatproof” sunblocks protect you while in the water. However, reflections from the water add to your exposure. Make sure you use a high SPF number, and always re-apply your sunblock when coming out of the water

 

5. Sunblock is not just for the beach! Make it a habit to carry one with you during the sunnier months so you can protect your tattoo always! The Watermelon Stick from the Body Shop is nice and portable, but in a pinch, a tube of lip balm (Blistik, etc.) will work, as long as it has an SPF. Dab a bit on your tattoo whenever you will be outside.

How Do I Care For My New Tattoo?

The artist that did your tattoo will have something very definite to say about the care of your new tattoo, and it is probably a good idea to listen to him/her. Many shops will have an information sheet listing care instructions.

The information provided in this section may or may not be the same method your artist offers. Regardless, there are three things to remember about caring for your new tattoo:

  • Moisturize it
  • Don’t over moisturize it
  • And whatever you do, Don’t pick your onion peel scabs!

Basically, as long as you follow these three points, you will be okay. However as people get more tattoos, they begin trying out slightly different methods. I have included several examples, and not all of them will work on everybody. Some people will find that they are allergic to some products.

How do you know which method is best for you?

It depends on the type of skin you have, and how sensitive it is. I suggest you try a patch test on your skin for a week or so to see if you react to the ingredients.

Having said that, I have personally discovered a very nice “new tattoo kit” that I now use whenever I go to get a tattoo. And the added benefit was that I discovered this “kit” in a sample size travel set, which I can easily pack in my travel bag.

The set that I now use is the Johnson’s baby product line. The kit includes baby powder, baby shampoo, diaper rash ointment, baby lotion, baby bath, and a bonus (in this case, a baby bib). I don’t need the baby bib, and the shampoo is just an added bonus for me. However, this is how I use the kit, especially when I’m getting the tattoo in another city:

Baby powder

I sprinkle a liberal amount on the hotel bed sheets to prevent my skin from sticking to the sheet.

Baby bath

A fruity-smelling liquid soap, it’s very mild and has minimal lathering. I pour a bit on my hand, rub into a light lather and wash the tattoo this way. It rinses off very easily with non-pressurized water, minimizing the risk of losing scabs.

Baby lotion

The Johnson’s brand feels non-greasy. *MY* skin does not like a layer of oily lotion, and until this, I used to pay lots of money for oil-free Oil of Olay (is that a contradiction in terms?). Goes on very lightly but keeps the skin moist.

Diaper rash ointment

Zinc oxide-based, I use this thick, non- greasy ointment on certain “contact spots” of my tattoo that may rub against clothes (i.e. bra strap, waist band).

I’ve found this travel kit selling for £6, and the small sizes work out just right for a smaller tattoo (no larger than 8″x8″. You *MIGHT* smell like a clean baby, though!

Other people will recommend different ointments and lotions. Some people swear by Tea Tree Oil (toner) from the Body Shop for its healing qualities. Others like A&D Ointment (marketed for diaper rash, I find it somewhat greasy), and the cheapest is probably regular Vaseline Intensive Care. If you live in a dry area and you’re prone to use a lot of lotion anyway, the last one, in a large pump bottle, may be your best bargain.

Put a heap of vaseline on the new tattoo and then bandage up the whole thing, then follow  these instructions:

 

Tattoo Care Instructions:

1. Remove bandage in 18 hrs.

2. Wash tattoo immediately, with soap and water When washing off the tattoo, there should be old ink & some body fluids. At this state there is little that can harm the tattoo. 3. When skin feels like normal wet skin, pat dry.

4. Put nothing on the tattoo for 3 days.

5. From the 4th day, apply the *tiniest* amount of lotion possible once a day to keep it from drying out completely; gently work it in. (Mike suggests a drop for a 1″x4″ piece).

6. Do not get the tattoo wet; moisture is your enemy.

7. Do not permit sun on tattoo.

8. Do not get the tattoo wet; moisture is your enemy.

9. Scabbing may or may not occur. Scabbing is normal. Do not pick scab.

10. Do not get the tattoo wet; moisture is your enemy.

His strongest advice: “MOISTURE IS THE TATTOO’S ENEMY”.

On using Vaseline: Neosporin is Vaseline-based, & doesn’t hurt.

On using Neosporin: Not really necessary, but it doesn’t hurt. Strong warning: Never let the shower directly hit the tattoo.

1. Change your bandage within two hours, wash hands before touching tattoo,

2. Clean tattoo with soap and water, pat w/ Listerine for a few minutes.

3. Apply Polysporin Ointment & bandage. Repeat this process 4 times a day until tattoo is healed. The theory is that by keeping it covered with ointment, you don’t form a scab — and no scab means no scab problems. UNFORTUNATELY, this method also draws out a lot of the ink and can result in a pretty pale tattoo. sigh. I would not recommend this method for a good final result, although it can heal up a tattoo in as little as a four days if you use Vitamin E and Polysporin.

 

The Wait-24-Hours-To-Take-Off-Dressing Method From Joker’s Wild

1. Remove bandage after 24 hours while you are showering.

2. Use a mild soap then pat dry

3. Allow tattoo to dry for 24 hours.

4. Apply supplied healing lotion 4 times a day. Do not use anything else on tattoo then the supplied cream.

5. When using the healing cream, use it sparingly, you want to moisten your tattoo, not soak it.

6. Do not soak your tattoo in the bath for 2 weeks.

7. Do not swim in chlorinated water for 2 weeks

8. Do not tan your tattoo for 2 weeks

9. If your tattoo does happen to scab, do not pick.

We recommended protecting the new tattoo from the shower. try putting a bag over it which is a bit of a pain, but probably worth it.

This is how I healed the 3″ X 6″ piece on the front of my shin with the exception that I washed it gently at least twice a day to clean off the old ointment. I am very pleased with the result.

For effortless healing of your new tattoo please follow these directions carefully.

1. VERY IMPORTANT. Leave sterile dressing covering tattooed area for a minimum of 2 hours.

2. If desired, dressing can remain on tattoo for a maximum of 24 hours.

3. After removing dressing (non-stick), gently wash tattooed area with soap, pat dry with a clean towel.

4. Apply Polysporin twice daily until healed. Usually 3-6 days.

5. Refrain from picking or scratching tattoo during the healing process. Damaging the light scab formation will result in poor colours in your tattoo. If tattoo irritates, apply a slight smear of pure coconut oil.

 

1.10 The Huck Spalding Method From Huck Spalding`s “Tattooing A To Z”

1. Bandage(*) should stay on for at least two hours.

2. Remove bandage, rinse gently with cold water and blot dry.

3. Apply Bacitracin ointment 4 x a day and blot out the excess.

4. Keep tattoo fresh and open to the air. Do not bandage.

5. For the first week, avoid swimming or long soaking in the water.

6. For the first month, avoid too much exposure to the sun.

7. Do not pick or scratch scabs

8. Itching is relieved by slapping or alcohol.

9. Keep tattoo covered with loose clothing.

* Bandaging Summary 1. After tattooing clean whole area w/ green soap & white paper towel. 2. Spray it with alcohol and hold a paper towel on it. 3. apply film of Bacitracin ointment. 4. Cover with bandage or Shrink-Wrap or cling film and securely tape it on.

I have yet to try this method, but have seen a few tattoos which have been bandaged with shrink-wrap and they turned out just fine. (Huck writes that the shrink-wrap stops people from peeling off the bandage in the first few hours to show friends.)

 

The Noxzema Method

1. Remove bandage after 4 – 5 hours.

2. Wash gently with soap or water.

3. Do *not* scrub or soak until completely healed (usually a week). Showering, however, is OK.

4. Usually necessary to re-bandage.

5. Keep tattoo OUT OF THE SUN or tanning booths while healing. Once healed, ALWAYS use sunscreen on colours.

6. We recommend Noxema Medicated Skin Lotion twice a day to aid healing & comfort. DO NOT USE Vaseline, oils, anything greasy, or anything with cortisone. Oils block your skin from contact with air, inhibiting healing

7. Tattoo “peels” in 4-7 days. Do not pick or scratch!

 

“Your tattoo was applied with sterile equipment and procedure, and with non-toxic colours. We guarantee the workmanship. Healing and caring of your tattoo is YOUR responsibility.”

This is how I healed a 3-inch band around my right ankle. While the healing was more like 2 weeks, I also protected it from the shower with a bag. For the last few tattoos I noticed that after I stop covering it in the shower (after about 2 weeks), the tattoo seems to speed up in healing. I suspect that this might be either timing (it was ready to heal), or the action of the shower helps to knock of any dead skin thus promoting better healing.

I only used a wee bit of Noxzema twice a day, leaving the art “moist and glistening” but with no “smears of white cream.” Am very happy with this method. The cream really does help the itching and the final result is a good deep black.

Getting A Tattoo

A Brief History of Tattoos

In 1991, the body of a 5,000-year old tattooed man – ‘ötzi the ice man’ – was found frozen in a glacier in the mountains between Austria and Italy. The wonderfully preserved skin of this corpse bears 57 tattoos which are thought to have been medicinal in application, comprising a cross on the inside of the left knee, six straight lines above the kidneys and numerous parallel lines on the ankles.

Does it hurt? – Pain Levels 1-10

This is the first question that people usually ask. The answer is yes. Having needles pierce your skin *does* hurt. But what you *really* want to know is, “How MUCH does it hurt, and can I handle it?”

It’s not nearly as bad as what you might imagine. The pain comes from the cluster of needles on the tattooing machine piercing your skin very rapidly. This sensation, however, doesn’t feel like the poking pain of an injection–it’s more of a constant vibration. You will be amazed at how quickly your body releases endorphins, (pain killers), which dullens the pain significantly.

The pain will also vary according to where on your body you get worked on. Skin right above bones (collarbone, anklebone, etc.) tend to be more painful than other areas. In addition, certain types of needles seem to hurt more than others. I personally think the needles used for outlining produce a sharper, more noticeable pain, while the needles used for shading seem to be much more like an electrical buzz (nearly painless).

Remember, you are volunteering for the experience. The amount of pain will depend on your psychological attitude.

NOTE: Do not drink alcohol or take illegal drugs for pain relief purposes prior to your tattoo sessions. Both aspirin and alcohol thin your blood and promote excessive bleeding. Aspirin also decreases the clotting of blood, which will slow down your healing as well. In addition, artists do not appreciate dealing with drunks.

Here at Offtheclothboff, we came up with the idea of creating a post totally dedicated to the most insane areas people have been tattooed and rating the pain levels out of ten..!

 

Body parts to tattoo

 

Pain Levels 1 – 10

  1. The Arm Pits – 4-5 out of 10
  2. The Face – 5-6 out of 10
  3. The Palms – 6-7 out of 10
  4. The Head – 7 out of 10
  5. The Fingers – 8 out of 10
  6. The Ears – 8 out of 10
  7. The Soles of Feet – 8 out of 10
  8. The Toes – 8 out of 10
  9. The Penis – 8-9 out of 10
  10. The Thumbs – 10 out of 10
  11. The Testicles – 9-10 out of 10
  12. The Anus – 10-11 out of 10

Should I get a tattoo in the first place?

Why do I want one?

People get tattoos for different reasons. Is it to please your partner? Is it because you want to belong to a group that has tattoos? Do you identify with a certain subculture known for tattoos? Do you want to show your independence, individuality or uniqueness?

These are all valid reasons, and why many people get tattooed. However, because of the permanency of your tattoo, try to look at yourself in five, 10, or even 20 years. What will you be doing at that time? You might be a free-spirited college student now, and a web of vines on your wrist would look really lovely. However, are you planning to work in a very conservative field after you graduate? Will others look at your tattoo in a bad way? Will you have to hide it with long sleeve shirts? Are you *willing* to wear long sleeve shirts if the environment is negative?

Do you want a tattoo of a tiger because your partner’s nickname is “Tiger,” and you love the way s/he scratches your skin? Do you think you’ll be with this person in five years? If not, how will you look at that tattoo? With fond memories, symbolizing a special period in your life? Or a shameful or painful reminder of somebody who hurt you and didn’t care for you?

You’re a headbanger (or a nose-smasher, ear-bopper or whatever) and you *REALLY* want a tattoo all over your arms just like Axl Rose, but you can’t afford a professional artist so you get your friend with the mail-order tattooing machine to do those designs for you? Or perhaps you get spider webs tattooed all over your hands (or your face, which has happened) because you want to be “different” in school. What if you decide to “straighten out” and get a real job; train as a chef or something, and then no restaurant hires you?

GETTING IT REMOVED is NOT easy, and is NOT cheap. Expect to pay $1,000 to remove even a fairly small-sized tattoo if you’re looking at laser surgery. Expect to have a noticeable ugly scar if you go with a non-laser technique. Expect to pay for every penny out of your own pocket because health insurance companies will not pay for tattoo removal. There may not be a laser surgery specialist in your area. Then think of all those laser-surgery doctors who are going to get rich off of a person’s foolishness or lack of careful thinking.

Questions you may want to consider

  • Maybe tattooing isn’t for you?
  • Maybe you shouldn’t get that £10 tattoo your friend’s been telling you he’ll give you, in his garage?
  • Maybe you shouldn’t let your buddies tattoo your hand with India Ink and a needle at this weekend’s party?
  • Maybe you should get a tattoo on your back instead of on your hand.
  • Maybe you should get a tattoo on your left wrist so it can be covered by your watch if you have to…

And maybe after reading this FAQ, you’ll think carefully about it, and make some informed, wise decisions about what to do with your body.

Tattooing can be beautiful

Tattooing can be exhilarating

Tattooing can open a whole new world for you..but make sure to do it RIGHT.

A temporary alternative?

“Temptu primarily develops semi-permanent body art. Current interests include working on a ‘safe’ and legal line of tattoo inks, airbrush body art, and Indian Mehandi (henna). I work closely with the New York Body Archive, a strange and wonderful place!”

Roy adds one of comment: “I’m frequently asked about the six-month tattoo you mention in FAQ. East Coast people say it’s available in California. But this is bullsh*t. No such animal!”

B) For some, the easiest thing to do is to simply draw on the skin with a non-toxic marker. In fact, many people who already have tattoos do this to figure out placement and design. If you want it to wash off right away, use something temporary. Crayola’s washable markers work well. I you wanna see if you can live with a design for a couple of days, try a permanent marker such as the Sharpies. They come in basic colors.

C) MEHENDI: In some countries such as India, brides are covered from head to toe with intricate bridalwear (including the face). To try to show off as much of what skin they can show, they paint their hands and forearms with something called henna. Henna, when applied correctly, stains the skin and can last several weeks. Mehendi has become popular with the mainstream, with a number of mehendi tattoo shops cropping up in some cities such as Berkeley and Los Angeles.

Part of the process of getting a tattoo is coming to terms with its permanency. It’s like losing your virginity. You lose it once, and you can’t get it back. You can neck and make out, but it’s not intercourse. If you’re afraid of losing your virginity, you have to come to terms with THAT before you can have sex.

But once you lose your virginity, you forget all about how you feared its loss, and simply enjoy having sex! 🙂

Debunking of urban folklore: Someone asked to confirm a rumour about the possibility of temporary tattoos obtainable by using a tattooing machine very shallowly on the skin, to have the tattoo last only six months or so.

Several professional tattoo artists replied with a very strong *NO*. There is no way to be able to prevent the needles from entering the second layer of skin (the dermis), where tattoo inks normally go. Further, even if the tattoo machine only enters the top layer of skin (the epidermis), you will end up with too much scarring that the tattoo will never really go away.

Considering the time, cost and pain factors, this is not an option–and no professional tattoo artist will want to experiment on you.

The Decision Process

Taking the big plunge –  Where can I find a good artist, and what should I look for in a tattoo artist?

The bane of the tattoo world is the shadowy, unprofessional person called the “scratcher” A scratcher is somebody who:

  • Does not have the proper training in either tattoo art or of running a professional operation.
  • Does not know and/or care to use responsible sterilization methods.
  • Promises to provide tattooing services for an incredibly low fee, for free, or in exchange for drugs.
  • Chooses not to apprentice through a legitimate tattoo shop because of one excuse or another (but lacks the knowledge one needs to work in, or run a professional shop.;
  • Will hurt you because they don’t know what they’re doing.
  • Will give you a permanent tattoo you will regret for the rest of your life

You should stay away with a ten foot pole

Never, never, never get work from a scratcher unless you are willing to accept all the hazards listed above.

Of those in a study by Clinton Sanders who regretted their tattoos, more than two-thirds of them regretted their tattoo because of poor quality!

Looking for an artist can be as easy as checking the Yellow Pages, or as complex as checking references, magazine photos. There are a number of ways to find good artists, including (but certainly not limited to):

Perusing tattoo magazines. While not all tattoo magazines are of the National Geographic quality, the photos will speak for themselves. Some issues highlight specific artists’ works; a good way see the type of work someone does. Use the photos in the magazines to compare with those of the artist you are interested in. These magazines have done a lot to show what is possible.

Some things to look for in magazines:

  • Style (realistic, black & grey work, tribal, etc.)
  • Placement on your body
  • Ideas for images
  • Size in proportion to your body
  • Artists whose work you like.
  • Attending a tattoo convention. Read the FAQ section on tattoo conventions for more information. You can approach this one of two ways.

You can either go to a shop because someone recommended the artist to you, or you can go in cold. For obvious reasons, you will have a little more information with you if you already know something about the artist. This may make you feel more at ease when going into a shop for the first time.

Body art enthusiast Dr. Kai Kristensen , a pathologist and a recently retired lab director of an internationally prestigious medical center in La Jolla (California), says the most important aspects of a good result are to:

  • Choose an experienced, knowledgeable performer who knows about sterilization and avoidance of infection.
  •  Avoid infection during the healing process.

With both of those bases covered, healing of either should be non-eventful and the desired appearance should be guaranteed.

What images do you think of when you think of a tattoo?

Do you think of anchors, of roses or of skulls? While these traditional images are still available, you will be pleasantly surprised at the variety you will find today.

There are two basic types of tattoos: Flash, and custom. As you can imagine, “custom” means you have a design you like that you take in with you. “Flash” is the stock designs you see on the walls of the shop.

The main thing to remember is that you’re not required to choose from the selection of flash in a shop.  You’re NOT limited to just an anchor, a rose or a skull. Remember however, that these smaller pieces of pre-priced flash are the bread & butter of many shops, since they are proportionately expensive (£75 for 20 minutes’ work, for example where an artist might charge £100 an hour for custom work). Also, the number of customers who lay out the big bucks for large, elaborate custom pieces is too small to keep a regular shop in business.

A few of the major styles of tattooing:

Bio-Mechanical

A style popularized by illustrator H.R. Giger, who designed the creature from the Alien movies.  Bio-mechanical work usually involves an anatomical flesh intertwined with some technical drawings of machines. A close relative of this style involves just the biological look of flesh without the mechanical parts.

Black & Grey

Refers to the colours used, this style requires the artist to have advanced shading techniques for subtlety.

Celtic

Beautiful, intricate knotwork of the Celts (a hard “k”, NOT a soft “c” like the basketball team). These are much harder for artists to do, and is best done by someone who specializes in it. Also usually done in just black ink.

Oriental

Big, bold pieces of Oriental images (carp, clouds, dragons, etc.) based on the Ukiyo-e woodblock prints of 18th Century Edo-period Japan.

Note: It is fine to call this “Oriental” and not “Asian,” because it references an object and not a person.

Portrait

Images taken from photos, best done by someone who can render realistic photographic images. Usually  done in black and grey ink.

Sailor Jerry

Traditional sailor tattoo style made famous by Jerry Collins in Honolulu

Salior Jerry Tatoos

 

Tribal

Usually bold simple lines, simple patterns. Almost always done with just black ink.

With a good artist working for you, you can get practically any image you’d like. Accomplished artists can render portraits, wildlife, psychedelic and bio-mechanical styles with impressive results. Your main challenge is to find the artist who can best do the design YOU want.

What kind of colours can I get?

Concerned that you’ll end up with a greenish tattoo with little bits of red or yellow? Worry no more! Today’s inks run the entire gamut and it would not be terribly sarcastic to take a Dulex colour chart with you!

Most tattoo inks are metal salt-based pigments that are not made specifically to be used under the skin, and have not been approved by the FDA for this purpose. The idea is that for most people, these pigments are inert and cause no problems. Some people have been known to have allergic reactions; any reputable artist should be willing to provide you with a small “patch test” of the colours you desire.

Tattooist Uncle Bud Yates (Pikes Peak Tattooing) says some artists use acrylic-based pigments, which he feels may be more troublesome than the metal-based pigments for some with sensitive skin. Best to ask your artist first.

How to look around in the shop?

Don’t let the shop intimidate you when you first walk in. For the uninked, a tattoo shop is intimidating enough. Strange smells, strange sounds. Some shops even try to look intimidating to create a tough-guy feel. Just keep in mind that you’re a potential customer. Consider it window shopping.

The first thing you should do is to take a minute to look around. Chances are, you’ll encounter some flash (stock illustrations) stapled on the walls. These will most likely lean toward the traditional. Skull and crossbones, roses and the like.

You might also see some signs (“No minors; we ID,” “We have sanitary conditions” etc.). These signs will also be indicators of the personality of the shop owner. If the signs seem overly intimidating, patronizing or snobbish, they can be tip-offs of the shop’s attitude. Some are very friendly, with plants, aquarium fish, and signs like “Tattooed people come in all colours.”

Asking to see their portfolio

Do NOT be impressed by the flash on the wall. These illustrations are usually purchased from other artists and do not represent the work of your artist. Frankly, anyone with some experience can easily trace the outlines of these illustrations and fill in the colours. What you really need to look at is a book that contains a collection of photos of the artist’s work. Go to the counter and ask to see one. If they tell you they don’t have one, walk out immediately. You’re visiting the shop to commission a piece of art to be permanently illustrated on your skin; for the artist to tell you s/he doesn’t have samples in a portfolio is insulting.

What to look for in their portfolio?

When you do look in their portfolio, there are a few things to keep in mind. Do you see any photos of pieces that you recognize in the flash (on the wall, or in a flash book)? If so, how is it rendered in tattoo format? Before anything else, check to see that the lines are clean. Are they well-defined? Straight where they should be; not shaky or blurry? Are the borders all uniform in width? Do the colours seem true? Are they bright? Proportionately correct?

Look at the people in the book. This can be an indicator of the clientele in the shop (besides looking at the ambiance of the shop). Is there a fair mix of women and men in the book? Are they all sporting “biker” tats, or any one particular genre/ style

Again, keep in mind that anyone can stencil an outline of an illustration onto your skin. The skill in the artistry comes in the shading, use of colours and other subtle things that set an artist apart from a simple tattooist.

Do you see anything in the portfolio that is not in the flash? These are the custom pieces that the artists have done, and they should be their crowning glory. How do they look? Do you like what you see? If there is more than one artist working in the shop, and you see some photos you like, make sure to find out which artist did the work.

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