I’ve been subscribed to the Instructables webpage and it’s one of my favorite sites to visit. The site has all types of content for people that want to learn new things, or find out-of-the-box solution to any kind of problem. So far so good, but today while I was checking my e-mails I ran into the horror: there was a set of instructions on do-it-yourself tattoos. So this is the moment to go fully into the topic and laugh at it a little bit.
I accessed the link expecting this would be about how to make henna tattoos, maybe an illustrative guide on how to make traditional tattoos, but not, it wasn’t like that. It was a guide on how to make homemade stick n’ poke tattoos, which would be along the lines of dotwork, but in the wrong way. One picture explains it all: This is the homemade tattoo machine and the ink used for that:
Amazing, right? It really made my blood boil. How is it possible that Instructables highlights a guide showing such absurd procedures? And of course, the kind of people that post such material can always defend themselves by saying “Warning: we do not assume any responsibilities as to results obtained.
What are the risks of tattooing yourself?
First: quality. Come on, you may be good at drawing and you’ve been sketching things on your hand with a pen, but you have never tattooed so do not think it’s the same as drawing and rest assured that results will not be what you expected. Besides this homemade process is extremely painful ( or at least I can imagine that, as I have never had a dotwork done, to be honest), y doing it yourself must entail grueling hours under the needle. The needle itself may achieve the desired effect, but the ink laid out in your skin will not be what you expected. Tattooing ink is a special kind for a reason, as it is hypoallergenic (which means it presents low chances of causing skin allergy) and it’s not soluble in water (it will not fade as time goes by), whereas other types of ink will face with the passing of time.
Second: risk of infection or poisoning. The stick n’ poke technique require penetrating the skin into deeper layers, which entails going through the blood vessels (not just over the dermis layer), which means there is close contact with the blood stream and risk of infection. Disinfecting the needle with fire is not the best idea: there’s no guarantee that the needle will be properly disinfected, besides the gas combustion produced could leave highly toxic compounds on the needle. On the other hand pen ink or likewise is highly toxic…, so , do I need to go into detail about this? In the best case scenario nothing will happen, but you should be really naive to try this out. Some risks include skin inflammation, infection or in the worst case(e.g. two friends tattooing themselves and sharing the needle), Hepatitis B or even worse. “Homemade tattoos, a visit to the hospital for sure.”
And don’t forget, this is a tattoo. Ink will not fade easily. And worse of all is to see how the design looks worse and worse, little by little. And, of course it happens! A lot of artists know this story and can account for it: people visit the studio in order to cover up and older crappy tattoo made at home.
Is it a bad idea to make a tattoo yourself?
The first answer would be: yes. But, mind you, there are some professional tattoo artist who are proud to have been able to tattoo themselves, and of course, they do it because they can, but most importantly: they know how to do it. Furthermore, there is an important difference here: it’s not the same to tattoo yourself at home (with needle that’s been disinfected with a lighter) as to do it yourself at a tattoo studio.
To sum up, leave this complex task to the professionals or to the nutty ones.
The tattoo artists “X” summery
I know this post will hardly dissuade really committed from going for DIY tattoos, but if I can at least dissuade one, my job will be done. If you are a professional tattoo artist and you’re going to say: everybody starts somewhere”, let me tell you: if you start with this one you started with the wrong one and I don’t really care what you say to counter-argue that.