Got Ink?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hey, how are you today?

We've been laying low, we know; we're stuck in a realm of insanity where we are trying to prepare for the Nairobi Marathon, beat work deadlines and manage our so called lives.

So now that we are slowly rejoining the land of the living... We have a question for you, more than one actually.

Let me start from the beginning.

More often than not, people who meet us assume that at least one of us has a tattoo. We get that all the time. I don't know why... Whatever the case, let me clear that up for you, neither of us do. We are completely tattoo free. But trust me when I tell you we have thought about it, and more than once, come damn near close to getting inked over the years. However, for some unfathomable reason, we always chicken out.

Let's face it, a tattoo is a HUGE commitment. There are so many factors to consider; I could attempt to list our major concerns... just so you don't dub us as flaky or yellow-bellied... WE AREN'T! We just want to be sure and ready. Anyway here goes;

1. What image(s) should I have forever etched onto my glorious skin? This is by far the hardest question of all.


2. What is the significance of the image? Is there a need for significance? Can't I just get a flame encrusted skull with rose petals just because I can!? What if it's just a temporary fad that I will come to loathe? (Remember the star tattoo craze from a few years back? Yeah I came this close...)


3. Which part of my body shall bear this symbol? Do I want to show it off or keep it discrete? Which parts hurt the most? Which areas will stretch out over time? Will it affect any of my future plans/ prospects?

Tiffany “TIP” Jones

ghostmeat:  dude. fucking fierce!
4. Just how big should it be?

Gorgeous girl with a tattoo

5. Would coloured tattoos blend well on my unique skin tone?

18-15n-77-30w:  Tat

6. Will the tattoo smoothen/ blend over time or will it be the raised kind? (We are fond of the smooth variety)

The Other Kind of Ink

7. What will happen to the tattoo as my body undergoes inevitable changes? Will my skin stretch with the tattoo and magically transform my Koi fish tattoo into a dragon?

8. Where will I get it done in this fine city of ours? How much will this cost? (comments please!)


9. Will the detail eventually turn into a green blob over time? (This is our biggest fear)

hiyellafunk:  Days like today.

Granted, majority of these questions are quite personal. We are dying to hear your opinions. For those of you who have tattoos, what was your experience like? Any regrets? Any praise you would like to put forth?

For those of you who are opposed to getting inked, share your thoughts as well! Be they spiritual, health related or otherwise.... All opinions are welcome.

Over to you my dears.

Enjoy the day.

Imani said...

I was just thinking about doing a pictorial on tattoos. I likey...

Thrifting Diva said...

Wow! That is quite a list. When I got inked, I asked only the first two and then figured that one can never have all the answers...not too clever perhaps. So,I went ahead and crafted my life's philosophy in symbols that only make sense to me...and, well regrets are part of human nature, so 3 years later, I am bored of the image and I want to do a cover up-blend another image on top of it. The way i see it, I want to look at that image 30years from now and fondly think back to my youthful days, the stupid risks I took, bad/good decisions and well just blame it on youth or smile.

Anonymous said...

That would explain the lack of updates on your hair...I totally love those!
To answer your question, am personally against tattoos. Not to restrict artistic expression but for health reasons. I recently learned that tattooing affects one's eligibility to donate blood. In certain countries, you'd have to wait for at least 12months before your blood can be deemed "acceptable". This it turns out, is the length of time it takes to properly screen the blood for possible tattoo-related infections (thanks Google). In other countries, they will not accept your blood,period! Not sure what our policy here is though but my pal's mum who recently needed blood had some of her potential tattooed donors turned away by the hospital.
It scares me that we may get to a time when only a few people can donate blood (unless we advance technologically)-don't even get me started on HIV and Hepatitis....
So, if only for this reason,I would not advocate for tattoos. Would hate not being able to donate blood to save a life.

Sorry to be a party pooper..


Kurly said...

Hi there ladies! Thanks for the comments.
@Imani, girl go for it, I'd like to see more inspirational images. You should post your tat(s) as well! :D
@Thrifting Diva, Hey there miss thang. Thank you for your sharing your experience. I think I'd also get super bored super fast, thus resulting in a full body kit (Lil Wayne style). Are tattoos addictive? Some people say they are.
@Anne, more hair posts COMING RIGHT UP! Promise. You raise a very valid point. Thanks for that. The health implications are crucial and should be well considered before making such a decision. I wonder what Kenya's policy is with regard to tatted blood donors... hmm. We hope your friends mum is doing much better.

Anonymous said...

Just want to say that contamination in tattoo studios is one of biggest think that tattoo artists worry about and make sure they sort out. So, when deciding on a studio, do your research first, visit the studio, make sure that they follow and maintain hygiene standards- setting up the tattoo machine in front of the customer, opening the needles in front of the customer so they can see its new and sterile, sterilising the work environment, wearing gloves , using sterile tubes, and that everything that is used is disposed immediately. Its almost like going to a doctor and getting a shot, tattoo studios have to maintain the same hygiene levels.

So, Anne, if a studio follows all these regulations then there's no reason why anyone should be worried about contaminating HIV, Hepatitis and other diseases. Its all about being informed and doing research.


Kurly said...

@Portia, what can I say, excellent advice. Hygiene and safety checks are as much our responsibility as the tattoo artists'. There is absolutely no harm to requesting for all the above mentioned (and more) double checks if you are dead set on getting a tattoo done.

Umm, say, could you recommend any excellent tattoo parlors based in Nairobi!?

Anonymous said...

@Kurly and @Portia, thanks for your comments ladies.I appreciate them.
@Portia, I hear you- due diligence is critical when considering tattooing as with any other similar procedure. I get that. But this may not stop the hospital authorities from turning you away when the life of someone you care about is on the line (this is due diligence from their perspective). Your loved one may not have the 12months (or whatever period)to wait for your blood to be properly screened. It could be the thin line between life and death (sorry if i sound melodramatic)
I guess the case with my friend's mum gave me a new perspective on tattooing...never had a problem with tattoos before this. @Kurly, for the record, she's better now though she may need more transfusions in future (she has leukemia).


Anonymous said...

Yes that is whole lot of questions but to be honest its a good thing. It shows that you really do care what goes on your body and that is a must for everything be it food hair or tats. Well as for me I have four tattoos. 3 stars on my right ankle, Scorpion on my bikini line (right leg) a tribal "tramp stamp" that's the lower back and lastly the map of Africa on my left shoulder blade. Well there are actually two main reasons why I got inked. One is that I love the idea of having a piece of art on my skin. I know it sounds weird but I do admire cultures and tribes that have been tattooing themselves for generation. I find it a very unique way of expressing oneself without necessarily speaking. More like what u see is what you get kinda feel (but dont go judging the book by its cover :P) My second reason is my dad. He has had tattoos ever since I can remember. He got them when he was in the navy and well his were the old school way, hot metal and lots of alcohol. Some of them are really shady but that was who he was and he was so into it. But of course now with age he just hates them. He hides them always wearing long sleeves and stuff. Anyway ladies my 2cents of advice would be:
One, if you are really certain you want to get inked do a little bit more research on what you want on ur body. Example with myself, I wasn’t soo fussy about it coz I did know what I wanted like from the get go but knowing what u want at 19 is very different from when u get older. My first tat was the tribal on my lower back and I liked the design coz I drew part of it but as of now I don’t like where I put it. But I was 19 and it was cool :P My second tat was the scorpion I was 21 and a friend asked me what I wanted for my birthday and yes I said a tat. Yah that is what I saw that I needed. But it works its magic for me with my BF...he likes it especially when it’s seen slightly when my pants are low. 
Second piece of advice KNOW THE PERSON WHO IS DOING THE WORK AND MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH PROOF THAT YOU TRUST HER/HIM!!!! This is a very very very important factor u have to consider. Before I got the map of Africa I had another tat done. It was a design I made of a gothic bird on a creepy crawly vine. Well let’s just say the end result didn’t look nothing like what was on paper. I blamed myself coz I decided to go to another artist coz he was cheaper than my original guy. BIG ASS MISTAKE!! The problem was not only did my tat look like a blot but also later on I found out when I was covering it up he had seriously etched my skin when he was shading (which u still couldn’t tell) and I had to wait 2 years for me to get another one done on it. This is coz I have had to let my skin heal properly before I worked on it again. Also till now u can kinda see through my black map fine lines where the other tat was. So valuable lesson there RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH!!!! U can never do enough of it. As for what part of the body to tattoo, well that up to u but there parts I will say are painful, bikini line and ankle. That’s through experience, but everyone has their own levels of pain.
Anyway that’s all I could think of for now. Hope it helps and yes I still do love all my tattoos as much as I have some regrets they still are elements of who I am. Stay Real :)

iiku said...

Sorry for the long ass post
Ciiku Waweru

Kurly said...

@Anne, we are glad to hear she's doing better. You are giving us a lot to think about girlie..

@Ciiku! Madam thank you for sharing your story! We love it, don't you dare apologize for the length! If there is something I am coming to see is that regret is a wasted emotion! Imagine looking back 30 years from now at your youthful markings, I pray you look at them with fondness. Plus you will make one cool grandma. Research reasearch research... we have a lot to do and think about or so it would seem.

evelyn said...

Many thanks to have this write up. The most important point to note is that our bodies are not ours (whether we like that statement or not). Our bodies belong to GOD, so we need to be sure that God would want us to get tattos.

Apart from that human being are very versatile, so what if one tattoo is no longer relevant for the next period? We have to remove them which costs tons of $ more than when we put them on.

Kurly said...

@Evelyn, thank you for your contribution. We appreciate it.

Portia said...

@Kurly, sorry I can't recommend any studios in Nairobi, I'm based in Johannesburg...
@Anne, I've been thinking all afternoon about not being eligible to donate blood because of being inked, it's a really serious issue, and with more people being inked by the day, there may come a time when blood donors are too few (well actually, blood donors are too few already anyway). Thanks for raising such an important issue.

Nimo said...

Love this post, I'm a big fun of Body art i.e tattoos and piercings. i love the the idea of having my body as this huge piece of art work lol. Anyway I got inked over a year ago and before i did that i pretty much asked all the questions you guys listed and did a bit of research on the best place to get it done. I decided to get it on my upper arm, that way i can show it off when i want to and i can hide it as well (did not want to jeopardize my future possibilities of ever getting employed). It's a Chinese symbol meaning 'strength'. Been through a lot in my life and the tat just fit... Life's hard... I would suggest Nick's Tattoos/Cool beans tattoo parlor in westy (that's where i get my body art done). they are quite pricey compared to other places but they know their stuff and are very hygienic and they even print out and give you an after care manual for any work they do, piercings/tattoos... And my tat is smooth btw :)... You only live once and yes tattoo are a huge commitment and I do think they are addictive, I'm thinking of getting another one soon :D

SugarPuss said...

hey ya, missed you guys too much. Hope you're doing good and will be back soon, my hair has grown another inch and its at that awkward length stage where i cant just wash and go anymore coz it tangles and knots up like a bitch, and am still earning to do twist outs n stuff, am so confused :(
Anyway, this post rings so true to me, my main reason is no.1...the things i loved at 18 are not the things i loved at 21 or at 24, am so seasonal. I wanted a butterfly in the 90's, angel wings early 2000(think ja rule), stars, sayings, but right now am 100% sure i would regret all those images on my skin. Then i had a friend who had a tiny blue dolphin on her lower back when we were 18 and skinny, by the time we were 22 it was a blue dot which you had to stretch out to figure out a shape. I get what you mean, what starts out on ur shoulder back can just as easily end up on ur ass in a few years. Then the pain???!!!!! too scared of needles, just the thought of scratching out my skin *chills* But they're still awesome!!

So i know this guy, Nick, in westy, he's been inking since av known him in uni in his dorm room, he's done all his tatts on his left and right side(he's ambidextrous) and had really unique ones even back in the day, my fave is the one on his arm which spells "life" right side up and when u look at it upside down it spells "death" He has a shop in westlands Bishan plaza, just below redtape called "Cool beans" i think he inked half of Juja- JKUAT and one pal of mine has 6 tatts by him, no probs no rash or infections, and he has this chart which tells u the most painful places so you can pick, he can design for u or whatever, check out all his handiwork on facebook: Cool Beans-tattoos, piercings, clothings and accessories. Am waiting on my sinuses to heal so i can go get a nose ring...scandalous, i

Anonymous said...

Don't do it you will regret it down the road. IMO tattoos are tacky and then they fade. Google True Life MTV "I Hate My Tatoo".

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, I learned something new!! I didn't know that getting a tattoo could prevent you from donating blood. Like others have said, I would emphasize researching on the health implications and hygiene. In May this year,I was in a salon and overhead a conversation among the stylists there. They were talking about another chic from "downstairs", saying she got a tattoo and now her leg or was it her hand--(can't recall exactly) was swollen and had pus...gross I know!! Apparently this had happened before with another tatt and she still got another one. One of the ladies talking said "Damu yake ndio mbaya...."(It's her blood that's bad).

I was quiet upto that point but felt I needed to chime in. I basically told them it was either an infection or a serious reaction to the ink. As an aside: ->> While researching henna, I found out that it's sometimes mixed with PPD (paraphenylenediamine) in some pigments which can cause serious reactions when used for permanent tattoing.

As much as tattoos are popular in Kenya right now, there is still a HUGE amount of ignorance. So make sure you do your research AND find someone who knows what they are doing. Just out of curiosity, I'm also wondering if tattoo parlors are regulated? Do you know?

I'm glad you mentioned the stretching...not a good look. Some areas are tricky e.g. upper arm, belly, lower back, thighs etc. However, I've seen some nice images on the inner wrist, inner ankle and feet, behind the neck or ear, knuckles etc

You also need to think about how you may be perceived by others especially in a professional setting. Think about how you might conceal the image if you ever need to for an interview or event.

I understand your reservations about having a permanent image on your body for a long time. This is the same thing that has kept me from getting one. I think getting *pure* henna art done is also a good and temporary option.
If you decide to take the leap, just be sure it's something with deep meaning or that you really LOVE. Choose color carefully. With darker skin tones, some colors don't look that great. Some blend in too much but that can also be an advantage depending on your preference. I say this from seeing tatts on various skin tones from dark to pale. All in all good luck!


Yet another Ciiku said...

I just wanted to jump in quickly and say that in most places, you are eligible to donate blood four to six months after you receive your tattoo. So there shouldn't be any permanent exclusion from blood donation simply because you are inked.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I was in Nairobi for the past three months but I am now back in Uganda. we don't have that many tatoo parlours in Uganda so I decided to do mine when I was there. I did my research until I settled for Nick of Cool Beans in westlands. For the start, I wanted a small one that I could look after so I got words that are meaningful to me on my wrist. It took a month to heal and it is perfect and I love it. First, you have to really be sure that it is what you want. That you won't be ashamed or regret the decision because you have to live with it your whole life. I always compare it to having a child (although the tatoo is cheaper) but yeah, the life-time commitment. so take your time. Think it through and make sure itis not just one of those phases. I once had a tongue ring phase and i really came so close but I know now that I wouldn't have been proud of myself. Good thing is I could have let it fade which isn't the case with a tatoo.

look for Nick Motonya or Cool Beans and look at his body of works and then look around and decide. all the best.

Anonymous said...

Oh I also chose my wrist because I easily gain weight and I wouldn't want it to stretch. It hurt like a *muther though. I've heard fleshier parts hurt less.
-Hellen again

Sally Njiriri said...

would suggest the tatoo parlour at capital my tatoo a couple years back and was way too young and yes i did my research so i'm still not regretting it and yes he does the smooth typa tatoos and because of the ink he uses, it still remains dark like a lighter shade of black but never green! well mine is still dark 4years later

Anonymous said...

as an artist who does skin art...n carries a few myself, i would say this - common sense isnt common! Dont do it if you have the slightest doubt. If you do it be certain you want it. If what other people think about you is important to you...then ask them. Finally get an artist who knows s/he's stuff. Ask for samples of work they have done. Finally, tatts dont define a person...only people who judge books by the cover - read shallow and narrow minded - do. Goodluck. Oz.

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