(un)popular ink

A Russian opera singer quitting after his employers learned (now?) about his swastika tattoo caused quite a lot of commotion on the Internet. A few days later, it’s still a popular topic but, in the meantime, some other people voiced their opinions and – of course – the broad picture is not as clear as we would like it to be.

Tattoos unwelcome in some clubs in Australia didn’t stir anything.

Interested why people get tattooed? Check this one and feel amused or outraged.

Ink Reality TV strikes back yet again and here we have two pieces of news concerning NY Ink.

Vince Hemigson very close to publish his Tattoo Project book and David Allen, a tattoo artist from Chicago, IL, discusses tattoos.

Too old to get a tattoo? Think again!

scarification on breakfast TV – what a treat!

It was quite a surprise to come across some “info” about scarification featured on the Polish breakfast TV (an infamously stupid “Pytanie na Sniadanie” program). I’ve decided long time ago that it’s a waste of time to watch such programs as they always claim to cover things in depth only to leave a viewer feeling disappointed but now and then I catch myself at giving them a chance.

The coverage of scarification came with some teasers beforehand where you could see a few shots of scarification projects (not overly bad ones; probably taken from the Internet) and read lines such as “a shocking phenomenon – scars as a decoration!” or listen to the voice in the background encouraging you to “stay with us to hear about scars – a deformation as a decoration!”

One could expect that while talking about scarification on air, you’d invite some experts on the subject and people who underwent such procedures to present their point of view. It’s never like this on TV, however, as it’s more about shocking than informing the audience, so no, they didn’t invite anyone who had firsthand (first skin?) experience with this kind of body modification.

Three guests were invited to discuss scarification: a young Polish dancer/ actress who has a few tattoos (and this presumably makes her an expert on body modification), a Polish rock musician with many tattoos and a professor of psychiatry who probably was expected to discuss many mental issues reflected in scarification/ deformation.

The scarification part of the program started with a short video of Anja Orthodox (of the Closterkeller band fame) who said a few things about tattoos (never scars) and how it should be discussed by people who have them, not by people who have no idea what it really could be about which, of course, never stopped the hosts of the show to proceed with their own profound thoughts on the subject. And profound they were all right as Tomasz Kamel and Agnieszka Szulim started with saying how the mere sight of scarification makes them cringe (Szulim said, Kamel looked the part).

It was obvious right from the beginning that they have their own fixed opinion on the subject and nothing  could change it but it’s fun to watch them pretending otherwise, isn’t it? The pretty actress said how she would never do anything like this to herself as it’s unpredictable and she wouldn’t like to end up with something ugly on her but she knows some people who got it done and some scarifications can be quite beautiful. The Polish musician, with exotic roots, was definitely more diplomatic and mentioned seeing tribal scarifications in Africa and how it’s good that a rapper known as Popek posted his scarification video for others to see as it could make people more aware of the procedure itself (apparently the subject of scarification ended up in this program thanks to Popek’s recent mod but it wasn’t stated clearly before). Finally, the psychatrist briefly discussed how body modification is quite personal a matter and Anja Orthodox was basically right to say that it’s the tattooed (modified) people who have the right to discuss their modifications although he also admitted that this way it would be only a subjective perspective (as, obviously, our reasons for what we do may differ significantly). He definitely said, however, that scarifications don’t necessarily have to be a sign of any mental problem as there are many people out there, with nothing done to themselves, who can also suffer from mental disorders. It also turned out that scarification is more popular than an average viewer of this program could think as not only the actress knew people with scarifications but also the psychiatrist. Another important point they managed to raise then was also a question of limits as apparently voluntary amputation is something you should never ever do (and that’s when the actress asked a rhetorical question about the limits).

Since scarification is, in a way, related to self-injury, the next step in discussion was to talk briefly about self-injury itself and how Mr. Kamel could observe such procedures back in his board school (illustrated by quite descriptive gestures). And, of course, could it be addictive? They started running out of time then, so the last question was directed at the actress and Ms. Szulim asked her if she would like to get another tattoo done. The actress, of course, would love to have a new tattoo but, unfortunately (which is unfortunately true, too) she has to be very careful about her looks and choices now due to her acting career. She definitely thinks about tattoos, though, as it’s very addictive (it’s interesting, however, how it’s ok to want another tattoo if you are considered “normal’ and how it’s seen as something very negative if people don’t perceive you as someone who follows the norm).

To sum it up, what an average, quite ignorant on the subject of body modification but also open-minded viewer could learn from it? I’d dare say “absolutely nothing”! We were shown a few pictures of scarification (and you can get a lot more, with better designs, on the Internet); we were told that such a thing exists and some people go for it (but since stronger words stuck with us better, we’d probably remember “deformation” and  “self-injury” as key words); we could hear “experts” discuss the subject (and the only person who made a relatively good, knowledgeable impression on me was the psychiatrist with his moderate, calm view of the subject)  and try to show us that they actually know something about it but the formula of the show just doesn’t give enough room to say anything substantial on any subject. Instead of educating (which probably was their noble but purely superficial goal) they ended up with feeding the viewers with yet another piece of shocking news (which probably was just what they wanted to achieve in the first place).

A link to the video should be available on the website of the show tomorrow (it’s actually available today). I might actually watch it again to see if I wasn’t judgmental here myself 😉 (I don’t think I was – there’s no substance whatsoever in this video).

me again – a long saga of my calf tattoo

Everything begins with a first step but with running it’s even more true. At first you think you just can’t do that – you just can’t find it in yourself. A few steps seem to be miles and then you turn back and see how far *not* you’ve just run! But days of failure turn into weeks of less and less pain and then comes this one time when suddenly you feel light and powerful and you catch yourself at simply enjoying running! You look forward toward your next run only to feel awful again and then again you get to experience this mythical ‘runner’s high’ and you feel great again!

But running is not only about feeling great! It’s also about nasty toenails, sweat dripping down your back, blisters that come with colors you didn’t even know they exist and many other goodies. Running is not only a summer activity when birds are chirping and the sunlight caresses your  *cough* fit body. Running is about facing the cold rain and temps well below freezing when you ask yourself why you are actually out there and what the hell you were thinking when you decided to go for a run!

Running teaches you self-discipline and self-confidence. It shows you that you can achieve quite a lot only if you stick to it long enough and apply yourself to it in quite small increments of time day by day by day! In short, running is many things but it’s always great!

I’ve been running for many years now but not always it was a quality running. It started to be so in 2010 when I started reading (and thus learning) more on the subject. I felt hungrier and hungrier for running and I loved it even though I felt the love mainly after the runs (during them I felt quite different). I knew that in a way running defines who I am and I liked it a lot, too.

I decided to get a tattoo devoted solely to my running passion and I wanted it to be a nice combo of anatomy and bio-mech aesthetics. I always loved thinking about human body as a machine – powerful and reliable. Add to it my slight love of sci-fi movies and I knew it would be perfect for me!

I did some research on human anatomy (lower leg, to be exact as running is mainly about legs, at least on purely superficial level!), printed out some pictures and took it to my tattoo artist. We discussed what I wanted to get done and I left the rest to him.

My first appointment for this tattoo was June 28, 2010. Slawek showed me his design and, of course, I loved it. It got even better when it turned out that there was no stencil prepared beforehand for this one and Slawek would free-hand this tattoo on me. Tricky for sure but I love Slawek freehanding and I knew he was totally able to pull it off.

For the next 2 hours I was lying flat on my stomach and he was first drawing on me with markers (and the final, very colorful sketch looked so awesome to me that I wished it could be the final design! An odd statement coming from someone who doesn’t actually like bright colors!) and then, after my approval of the sketch, tattooing me. The position I was in wasn’t overly comfortable, especially that a few days earlier I tripped over some roots on one of my trail runs and I skinned my knees ( a day later I got my tetanus shot at a local health center, just in case!) but the final result always outweighs all the inconveniences during a body modification process. When I was done, after roughly 2 hours of work, I was more than happy with the results ‘for now.’

The aftercare for this one was going to be more difficult, though. I was told that I shouldn’t run for at least a week to make it heal well. It wasn’t that easy to do but somehow I managed. A break from running is quite good on a psychological level, so maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all?

I succeeded with healing the outline of my calf tattoo before I went to Hungary to get my rib scarification and a tongue re-split but I didn’t manage to heal my scarification before my second sitting for my calf.

The second sitting was scheduled for August 6, 2010. During the session I was lying mostly on my left side as the right side of my rib cage was way too sore to use it for anything. I had to ask for a break twice as the left side of my body kept going numb and my hip and keen joints started aching. I realized then, however, that a skin removal procedure changed the way I perceived pain and a tattoo pain wasn’t a problem anymore. Since this session was focused on coloring it wasn’t as bad as outlining but there were a few quite painful spots anyway. Thanks to my experience with skin removal barely a few weeks earlier, though, I could put things in perspective and keep in mind that it could be way worse.

A week of no running was ordered again and this time I welcomed it as it was quite hard to run with still fresh scars anyway. I’m lucky to be a fast healer, though, so once i stopped tormenting myself with overirritating my scars everything started clearing out and I healed in no time.

It took me 11 months to start working on this tattoo again and that’s quite a long time. I realized that I didn’t want to get tattooed that fast as a full body suit is not in my plans and I wouldn’t like to run out of space too soon. At times I felt quite satisfied with the work I already had as tattoo sleeves were always high on my priority list and I finally got them! Besides, winter is not a good time for fresh tattoos if you live in a cold climate and need to wear layers and layers of clothes to keep warm. I didn’t mind *much* running around with an unfinished tattoo although there were times when it annoyed me.

In April 2011 I got to run my first half-marathon and I added yet another reason to my “why running is wonderful?” list and I decided to spend my summer on working out instead of modifying myself as in a body modification way. I signed up for a running camp and was very excited about it. My running camp was only in August, though, so I still had some time for some tattooing, so I scheduled my session for July 6, 2011.

I was actually convinced that I was booked for a whole day, so I thought that this would be the day when my tattoo would be finished but it turned out that I was booked only for a few hours. It was a good session as pain was bearable, a mood at the shop was light and cheerful, the inner side of the tattoo that was worked on ended up looking great (anatomical elements looked really nice!). Everything was awesome and the only thing that sucked was that I still had to run around with an unfinished tattoo and I knew that there would be no more tattoo sitting for me this summer as I had another half-marathon lined up at the beginning of September and you just can’t run over 20km at once without some km’s put in beforehand!

The calf healed nice and I was ready to face my running camp! The camp was very useful for me as a runner and I really think about going to another one some time in the future. But I was still quite unfinished as far as my calf tattoo was concerned and by then even my tattoo artist started to be like “you know, we have to finish it ASAP!”

During the next year I managed to stretch my ears to 7/16″ and then to 1/2,” I played with microdermals and even more with working out and running! It was a fun time but whenever I got to run in shorts/ skirts, I started being aware that my tattoo was still not finished yet and it wasn’t fun anymore!

In April’12 I called the shop to schedule my next appointment and we agreed on July 16. We agreed on the whole day then but when we met at the TattooFest, Slawek and I got to talk and somehow we weren’t sure about the whole day’s sitting anymore, so when I went for this sitting I didn’t really know if it would be finally finished or not.

Session#4 was as cool as all the others before. I was scheduled for 11.30am and managed to get the tickets to Hungary and stop at my bank beforehand. On my way to the shop I stopped at a small pastry shop and bought a few still hot-from-the-oven croissants for the guys. At the shop Slawek was already waiting for me and it took me only a few minutes to change from my jeans and sneakers into old shorts and a pair of flip-flops. With my Kindle in hand, I was more than ready to go under Slawek’s needles.

Both Slawek and I wanted to really have it finished but for at least an hour or so into this session I didn’t take a look at my calf and I didn’t ask if we would be able to finish it this time. I was just lying on my stomach, reading one of the books on my Kindle and silently hoping that this time would be it! Random people kept coming and going, my piercer kept coming over to talk things, there was a TV turned on to entertain customers and there was a guy getting outlines of stars tattooed on him, so I had quite a lot of things to keep myself occupied with. There were also moments of pain when I felt Slawek going over some more delicate spot and when I had to tense my muscles to prevent an involuntary twitch of my leg. I felt him working on my Achilles tendon and covering the skin over my muscles with color and I still didn’t dare to look at it.

And then I turned back and saw these massive pace on calf covered in bright red ink and I felt a surge of hope. Maybe this day would be the day and I would be able to say “I’m done!”? Slawek was hopeful, too when I finally asked him about it. My calf got swollen and painful to touch after like 2 hours of tattooing and I was looking forward to the final stop of the machine and Slawek telling me ‘ok! get up and take a look!’ and whenever he stopped the machine it was only to turn it on a few seconds later. I kept reading, watching TV, watching people and trying to control my growing frustration with the pain, swelling I could feel and my impatience!

session ivAnd finally the time had come and I could get up and take a look at the final result. My calf was already so swollen that my right ankle differed significantly from my left one. My whole body felt sore from keeping pretty much one and the same position for over 2.5h but my calf looked great and it was done and I really felt quite happy!

A lunch with guys followed and then a shopping spree on my own and even though it felt painful to bend my knee or walk fast, I didn’t mind it at all.

As of today my calf tattoo is 6 days into the healing process and my ankle finally looks normal. The swelling went down and the skin isn’t as sore to touch as it was on day 1 and 2 of the healing process. I keep washing my tattoo 3 times a day, patting it dry and then applying to it Bepanthen ointment (which is a standard ointment recommended to tattooees in Europe!). I’m also trying to remember about these parts of the tattoo that are well healed and quite old by now and these I treat with body lotion to moisturize them properly.

When I look at the final result and the original sketch/ project, I can notice some differences. I find it quite cool, though as – in a way – it reflects my own life changes. When I started working on it I didn’t even think about running half-marathons and now I have five of them under my belt. I knew little about running and now I know more. Running is about progress and changes, so it’s cool that my tattoo reflects these changes, too!

* * *

Was it good to take my time to finish this one? Who knows? Delayed gratification isn’t a bad thing. My next step in this project will be working on my shin. Who knows how long this one will take me? 😉

history, politics, sports

This review of a book by Jim Ward is def. worth checking out! I’m always glad to see new posts on Shannon’s blog, especially when they are on the subject of body modification.

Nelson Mandela‘s 94th birthday was covered on TV and in other media; here you have two videos showing people getting tattoos of the Man!

Funnily enough I also came across this article, ‘5 Obama tattoo tales,’ where you can read thoughts of people who got their Obama tattoos and what they think about it now.

A big or just interesting piece of news? ‘FBI to add body art to its biometric database.’

I’m looking forward to this year’s Olympic Games (seeing how the Euro thing wasn’t that exciting for me ;)), so maybe I should get some Olympic temporary tattoos? It’s a way to profit and show one’s opinions, too: ‘Olympic athlete gets paid to wear temporary tattoo.’

we are all sinners, no?

With my new tattoo sitting fast approaching, let’s read about various stands on tattoos, shall we?

tatted up. why we sin against our skin?‘ tries to explain how tattoos are not a wise choice to show who we are. Another one, in Polish, briefly explains how according to psychologists there are three groups of people that get tattooed – those who do that for aesthetic reasons, those who get tattooed for mainly ideological reasons and finally those who have no limits. These psychologists must have *not* done a very thorough and wide-world research, I guess.

A new tattoo trend: ring tattoos and matching tattoos for couples (pretty much the same category).

Tattoos as a nice way to help out: fund raising for troops and for pit bulls.

Tattoos as a form of art and a part of a national heritage: Tattoo Nation documentary about black and grey tattoos.

Another ray of light shed on profession of tattoo artist: “what it’s like to be a tattoo artist?

And finally some hook fun from Bastian: “a flight in the woods” portraying a suspension meet in a great location!

middle of the week

I’m in the middle of watching “London Ink” and “LA Ink” (better later than never? kinda doubt it after having seen a few episodes of the LA Ink show ;)) but reading is always on my to-do list:

Entertainment represented by Megan Massacre.

Body art turned art from Shawn Barber’s perspective (his new art exhibition).

The Vogue magazine features a tattooed chef, Sean Brock.

Ever interested in ‘what does a body modification artist do?

And more serious: tattoos as a roadblock for immigrants.

sport and needles

The Olympic Games are soon to begin, so no wonder there ‘s more and more coverage on Olympic tattoos. Quite interesting is also this one about tattoos at Wimbledon.

The article about tattoos in the Japanese society is quite interesting to read but even more so are these about Horiren and Horihide.

Stories behind piercings are shown in a German photography exhibit.

Ink Up Ltd. may be a rival of the Ed Hardy brand 😉

Safe Body Art Act AB300 in California.