MY WORD: Here's a needed lesson in the art of tattooing

-A A +A

By Denise Patrick

Steve Doyle seems to be very poorly educated on the art of tattooing ("On Valentine's Day, no love loss for tattooing," Feb. 15). I am going to try my best to inform him without offending him, a quality he would be well advised to inherit (oops, there I go already).

According to the Smithsonian, "Humans have marked their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. These permanent designs – sometimes plain, sometimes elaborate, always personal – have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment."

My husband is an artist. He paints, he draws andhe tattoos. As an artist himself (yes, writing is an art form), how does Doyle dare determine that tattooing is not the best way to express yourself. To many people it is. Canvas may tear, photographs fade, but the art on your skin may remain with you forever as a public form of expression, just like his writing.

He claims tattooing is "harmful." Let's consider these facts from the CDC: Obesity will take the lives of around 112,000 people in the U.S. alone each year, smoking is the cause of 443,000 deaths in the U.S. per year, roughly 11,000 people are killed in alcohol-impaired driving accidents, and, as far as I can tell, tattoos have caused zero deaths.

Doyle mentions that people get tattoos when they are intoxicated in some manner. I will be getting my 30th tattoo on Monday, and I have been completely sober for each one. Do I regret any of them? No. Do I regret not choosing wisely the artist and parlor I went to? Yes.

With that being said, why doesn’t Doyle use his column to inform people of a safer way. Tell them to make sure they visit a parlor more than once, watch how they set-up and clean-up a booth, make sure they wrap all of the bottles, see how they wear gloves, see how they clean and mop after each tattoo, see if they use a sharps' container for needles, see if they have an autoclave for steel tubes or they use disposable tubes, etc.

Don't get a "homemade" tattoo from the friend of a friend that just got out of prison and knows how to hook a guitar string up to work as a "gun." Choose a piece of art that does mean something and that you would be proud to wear for the rest of your life.

Look at the artist's portfolio and don't be so cheap about it. You get what you pay for. When you do get your tattoo, clean it and care for it exactly as the artist/parlor has instructed.
As far as making some type of law that will limit tattooing, etc. I'm not exactly sure what he would like to see happen with that. Apparently, he would like to see the First Amendment taken away; this would, of course, include his right to create such ridiculous articles.

Tattoo shops are regulated by the health department. They are checked monthly, at minimum, for cleanliness and proper application of tattoos. You have to be at least 16 years old with a parent's notarized signature to get a tattoo.

If Doyle would like to make a change for something of this nature, the best thing he could do is use facts that support his argument.

Until then, it's just an opinion, and just like backsides, we all have them.
I am offended by Doyle’s article, yes, but only because I feel like there are so many people who are ignorant to tattooing, just like he is. Because of the stereotype that you and others like you place on people like me, I have been kicked out of places or not welcomed in places before.

People think our kind are going to cause trouble or commit crimes. The real crime here, though, is the discrimination that we receive. I'm not a biker, a drug dealer or a gang member. I've never been to jail/prison or even involved in anything illegal.

In fact, I work in a very professional environment (a large law firm), where I keep my heavily tattooed body completely hidden. If you met me on the street today, you would probably think of me as a very "normal" 20-something.

My tattoos are my art, each one representing something special to me. They are on my person, but they don't determine the person I am. Doyle shouldn't either.

Denise Patrick lives in Shelby County.