Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I haven't been spending much time at home lately, so I haven't had a chance to take any pictures in weeks. These represent three sessions worth of work. As you can see, the background on the right side of my body is near completion - after one or two more sessions we'll start adding some color. The area under my armpit on the upper part of the ribs wasn't at all pleasant to tattoo, but other than that the past few sessions haven't been too bad. I'm really not looking forward to getting the background near my groin area filled in at the next session.
The last time I was at the shop one of the artists joked that my kidneys were probably turning black. I managed a nervous laugh, but only barely. I've noticed it takes me longer to heal these days. I chalk it up to age and pray all the ink building up inside me isn't taking its toll. I'd be interested to see some studies on the health effects of tattooing. Seems like most of the information out there is anecdotal, which is not surprising - it's not like scientists can just tattoo folks and see what happens in a controlled environment. I try to put my faith in the tattoo community and their collective knowledge on the matter. The artists probably know more than anyone else. I'm assuming that it's a situation similar to steroids. For many years, the body builders and locker room dealers knew more than doctors about the effects of steroids on the human body because they were out there experimenting on themselves every day while scientists were grappling with the ethical issues involved with human testing. That being said, the most common health issues associated with tattooing are transfer of blood-borne illness, infection, allergic reaction and scarring. So far, I'm pretty good on those fronts. I'm still really curious to hear about potential health issues due to extensive tattooing.
I went to the beach a few times this summer (armed with plenty of sunblock of course), and the looks I'm starting to get when I take my clothes off are pretty funny. Sometimes I forget I'm turning into a bit of a freakshow.


Anonymous said...

Mike, That's one great tattoo. Does Shinji make his own sumi?

If you're worried about sumi, I wonder what that black light ink does to the body? You can find some in here... Unless you can translate the page, you'll have to hunt for it like I did, but it's worth the journey. There are some great tattoos and a section that documents the process. I think some of the more traditional tattoos are done in a style very similar to Shinji's - or maybe it's just that I'm focusing on the rocks and other design elements I hadn't seen before I came across your blog.

Thanks for the updates. - Justin

Mike said...

Thanks for the comment.

Not sure what you mean exactly, but Shinji doesn't make the sumi from scratch. Traditionally it's made with charcoal ash from bamboo or pine soot combined with glue extracted from fish bones, then pressed into sticks for sale. He does however grind the raw ink stick with a stone to prepare ink for use in each tattoo session.

Thanks for the link to the Horiharu site. Shinji and Horiharu are both from the Horitoshi family, so I wouldn't be surprised if they had similar styles. I wish my comprehension of the Japanese language was better than a three year old's - maybe then I might actually be able to navigate the site a little better. ;)

I'm definitely more scared of the newer exotic inks than I am of something plant-based like sumi. I hear some of the blacklight inks don't last very long in the skin, but that may have been the first generation blacklight inks. Many new inks are made from finely ground ABS plastic. Very vivid and long lasting colors, but hard to remove with lasers.

Pamela said...

Talk about a late arrival to your blog, but... I've read that extensive tattoing damages the liver and lymph system, thus eliminating the possibility for a liver organ donation in the future. More precisely stated, the ink that is inevitably absorbed into the body over time is stored in both the liver and the lymph system. I think that a "liver cleanse" of sorts might help remove some of the ink/toxins out of the body and thus lessen the damaging effects.