Tattoos: Permanent momentos

by Lindsay Taylor

Brightly colored prints all over campus and some people may not even know that they are there. Big or small, tattoos exist and they are permanent.

Sophomore Scott Roth decided to put his one and only tattoo on his right shoulder blade. The tattoo is of a kneeling man with two swords supporting the letters of Roth’s fraternity Kappa Theta Psi across his shoulders.

“College is supposed to be the best time of your life,” said Roth. “My fraternity and my brothers are helping make this the best time of my life. I wanted a tattoo that would show how much that means to me.”

Many people do not take into consideration the cost and permanency when deciding on a tattoo.

According to Dr. John T. Chiu of Newport Beach, Calif. Laser surgery for tattoo removal takes an average of seven sessions spaced about eight weeks apart. They can remove a tattoo that is smaller than two by two inches for a cost of $175 per session.

Roth’s tattoo is about two by three inches and cost $60. According to the prices given by Chiu, this would cost over $900 to remove over the course of a year.

“I will never regret this tattoo,” said Roth. “I don’t feel I need more.”

Junior Dan Stark also recently acquired his first tattoo. He decided on a family crest and motto to show his Scottish heritage.

“I wanted something unique, something no one else had,” said Stark. “I didn’t want anything generic.”

For people that wish to get a tattoo but do not want anything permanent, there are alternatives. Several websites sell temporary tattoos that are water and soap proof and that last for a week. Other websites sell temporary tattoo paper, so people can design and print there own temporary tattoos before getting a permanent version.

“I always wanted a tattoo,” said Stark. “I just did not want anything that anyone else had.”

On the Web site to Skin Kitchen, a Des Moines based tattoo parlor, owner Jack Lowe posted a letter from Skin & Ink magazine Editor in Chief Bob Baxter about the poor quality of work he sees on a daily basis.

“If you wanted to go out and buy a car, wouldn’t you check out the top automotive magazines, talk to trusted friends about their experiences and visit a couple of reliable dealerships?” Baxter wrote. “Why don’t people do that when they are shopping for a tattoo? How hard is it to check the magazines, talk to people with first-class tattoos and visit a few, well-established shops?”

Baxter also mentions the availability of tattoo conventions.

“That’s why there are conventions,” Baxter wrote. “They bring legitimate tattoo artists from all over the world to your front porch. Open your squinty eyes, take the extra time and carefully select a proven professional to help you proclaim you individuality through tattoos. Do your part to stamp out the glut of second-rate tattoo amateurs. Amateurs who gladly take your money, by the way.”

When looking for a tattoo studio, one should also be on the lookout for health risks.

Make sure that the tattoo studio is licensed in the city for which they operate their business. Ask about the equipment used and sterilization techniques.

Skin Kitchen uses a hospital grade auto clave.

“This is the gadget that kills all them bad things that cause sickness and disease,” wrote Lowe. “In other words, we have one of these to insure the safety and health of our clients. Monthly spore test are conducted on the auto clave at the University of Iowa to insure that it is in working order and free of Spores.”

After getting a tattoo, the artist should give you instructions on aftercare for the tattoo.

These instructions should include products that are acceptable to use on the area, how often to treat the area, and what you should not do, such as tanning, so that the tattoo properly heals without damage to the design and color.