Recently there was a news story out of Springfield, Missouri about several women who chose to use the services of a "door-to-door tattoo salesman." This gentleman showed up at their apartment building and began knocking on doors, offering his body art services. Despite the homemade appearance of his tattoo equipment, three women decided to get tattooed by him. One woman fainted the next day at her job, all three women are showing signs that the new tattoos are infected and all three have been advised by health authorities to immediately get tested for hepatitis and HIV. The tattooist turns out not only to have been using some sort of rig he built himself, he's also not legally licensed to tattoo in Missouri.
Although there are probably a lot of readers right now going "What were those women thinking?!" the fact remains that a lot of people don't put much thought into getting tattooed before they take the plunge. Some people make the decision impulsively ("I have to get tattooed right now!") and others make the mistake of getting inebriated before getting their skin art. With thousands of web sites about tattooing now on the internet, take just a little time to educate yourself before taking the skin art plunge.
Getting art from a professional artist doesn't just mean they can draw very well, it also means they've been trained, tested and licensed to tattoo using conditions that follow guidelines to ensure health and minimize disease transmission. The biggest danger from an underground or amateur tattoo artist isn't an ugly tattoo, it's an infection. This can be something bacterial which will make you sick and possibly leave a scar, or it can range to incurable and life-threatening. Many people fear HIV, but the hepatitis virus can survive for six months on surfaces unless all equipment is treated with special cleansers and appropriately sterilized. Ink supplies can also be contaminated and transmit disease.
With a reputable artist, you should be able to ask about studio conditions or have them show you their autoclave equipment. No part of the tattoo equipment should ever be used for more than one person, except the tattoo power supply box. Take the time to find a licensed and experienced professional when getting tattooed. Beginners and fly-by-night tattoo artists might be cheaper, but you wind up paying for it in the long run.
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