A once highly scrutinised feature that was synonymous with sailors, prison inmates and rebellious subcultures; tattoos have now become a mainstream part of society sported by individuals coming from all walks of life.
Thinking of getting inked? Discover the numerous tattoo studios and artists listed on Yellow. Filter your results based on location or opening hours and view contact details, websites and portfolio of images to select the artist whose work you find most appealing.
The Art of Tattooing
One of humanity's earliest art form, tattoos have marked human bodies for thousands of years. The earliest known examples are the 57 carbon tattoos found on Otzi, the neolithic iceman who had a series of dots and lines in his lower spine, knee and ankle joints, whereas many mummies dating back to 2,000 B.C have also been discovered sporting intricate designs on their skin. Tattooing was also common among Native American tribes.
Malta has had a close connection with the art of tattoo, while the first tattoo parlour on the island opened its doors in the late 1960s in Valletta's Strait Street. The most popular designs locals used to adorn their skin with included religious figures and images of family members, however, in recent years, tattooing has become a proper art form in its own right. Although trends tend to change from time to time, today's tattoos are true masterpieces, often consisting of elaborate designs and featuring more colour than they once used to. What is more, many local tattoo artists specialise in specific styles, such as traditional Japanese, geometric, Mandala, dotwork, black-and-grey realism, as well as old and new school tattoo styles.
If you're thinking about getting one to showcase your character and style, it is best to opt for an artist who not only has a wealth of experience but whose artwork you find intriguing. Nowadays, tattoo artists work in highly sanitary conditions, using sterile equipment and tools. Yet, you still need to make sure that the tattoo shop you select abides by these rules for your own peace of mind. Walk-ins are generally welcome in certain establishments, but booking ahead is highly recommended since this will allow you sufficient time to discuss the design, size, colour and location of the tattoo, while the artist can advise you accordingly or offer various tattoo ideas if you are not quite sure what you'd like to go for. Through their experience, artists will be able to suggest ideas for tattoos for men and women, sleeve tattoos, small tattoos or neck tattoos, for instance. Having sufficient time on hand will allow you to relax, while you'll be able to do important preparatory like proofreading if you're getting a piece with words. Skip this crucial step and you might end up with a tattoo that is the subject of ridicule.
Some Things to Consider Before Getting a Tattoo
Without a doubt, the first thing that comes to mind when deciding to go for one is whether it will hurt. All tattoos, regardless of their size come with their fair share of pain and discomfort. Having said that, body areas that have less nerve endings or prominent bones might be less painful, while locations that have quite a bit of flesh can help cushion the pain and sensation of the needle penetrating the skin. The fingers, outer shoulder, thighs, inner side of wrist or the upper area of the back are all considered good contenders. So if you're squeamish or a tattoo novice hoping for a relatively painless session, make sure you choose one of these body areas. Alternatively, you may opt to apply a topical numbing cream before having your tattoo done. Usually in the form of a gel or a cream, this can be applied one to two hours before the procedure and can be particularly helpful to those who have a low pain threshold or would like to get a tattoo in a sensitive area. However, it is best to consult your tattooist and preferably your doctor before applying anything on your skin.
Make sure you get a good night's rest, eat a good meal and drink plenty of water before your appointment, while it is best to avoid alcohol, caffeine and any strenuous form of exercise. Your body actually exerts energy during a tattoo session even though it might seem that you are just sitting or laying idly, so by being well-rested and well-fed, you'll be able to better tolerate the pain.
Other things to consider are that although in essence permanent, you may need to retouch your tattoo at one point in your life, most especially if there has been some discolouration. Retouching or fixing any imperfections should be cheaper than what you paid when getting your actual tattoo. And after getting one, you must stay clear of pools, hot baths and the likes so as to minimise the chances of getting infections. Tattoos generally need around two weeks to heal and you must avoid exposing the area to the sun, while you'll have to slather on sunscreen in the years to come to prevent colours from fading.
Also, be more cautious of getting a tattoo if you're allergic to hair dye. Chances are that you might also get an allergic reaction from your tattoo. This also holds true if you're allergic to things like costume jewellery and perfume. Watch out for signs such as swelling, redness, rash and bumps or irritation anywhere around the tattoo area, while if you suspect that you are having an allergic reaction, visit your doctor or dermatologist right away. Depending on the diagnosis you may have to apply an antibiotic cream and in rare cases, when the reaction is acute, you may have to remove the tattoo altogether.
If you've made your dream of having a tattoo a reality, there are a number of steps you need to take in order to prolong its vibrancy and to avoid any infection from developing. For starters, your tattoo artist will advise you as to what needs to be done to help you heal quickly, so ensure you follow through. Usually, this will consist of gently washing the area and applying a thin layer of moisturising cream a few times during the day so make sure you visit these supermarkets and discount stores or pharmacies. Commonly, your new tattoo may scab or flake, which may lead to itchiness, however, you must avoid itching the area since doing so may cause it to fade.
By time, tattoos may not be as vivid as they once were. Although this is normal, there are a number of things you can do to avoid this from happening. You need to pamper your skin as much as possible to keep it healthy and moisturised, while you need to avoid direct sun exposure and wash off immediately any harsh chemicals that may come in contact with your body art such as cleaning products.