Getting a tattoo has transcended cultural norms and stigma to become a phenomenon. As before, many people get tattoos as a form of self-expression (although some communities still maintain a deep cultural connection with tattoos). As a result, the scope and breadth of tattoos that people commission has increased. So now, tattooing has transformed into an art form in and of itself.
The nature of a tattoo is that it is a permanent art piece that an artist inks into the skin. That is why there are constant admonishments to think long and carefully about whether you want to get a tattoo, its size, placement and appearance. However, there remain some misconceptions about this belief. While tattoos are permanent, you still have to consider the prospect of fading and how different styles fair over time. These two issues play a considerable role in your choice of tattoo.
The unfortunate reality of tattoos is that they are bound to blur and fade over time. This phenomenon is inescapable as long as you are putting ink on the skin. However, one fact remains even when you employ mitigation measures like maintaining healthy skin, limiting sun exposure, drinking plenty of water, moisturising often, and using sunblock. All these actions will only delay the inevitable. All tattoos will succumb to water, sun and ageing, no matter the skill employed in creating the tattoo.
So as you consider getting a tattoo, how do you decide between Tattoo style and Tattoo longevity?
The Tattooing Process
Tattooing entails using an ink-soaked needle to penetrate the skin and follows a pre-sketched outline to create a piece of art. However, at no point does the artist inject the ink into the skin (the needle has a solid core). Instead, feeding in ink involves using the needle to puncture the skin, and once the artist pulls it out, the resultant hole ‘sucks’ the ink in. Upon healing, the ink remains in the skin since there is too much for your white blood cells to extract.
Whenever there is tattoo exposure to UV rays, a resultant ink particle breakdown makes them smaller. As a result, the breakdown opens an avenue through which your white blood cells can gather, surround the ink particles and expel them from your body. Furthermore, as your skin undergoes constant growth, renewal, and ageing, the ink particles left behind also experience slight positional shifts. This particle loss causes fading, while the shifting results in blurring of the tattoo. And while the two occurrences stem directly from sun exposure, even indirect exposure to UV rays will have the same effect over time.
The Choice Between Longevity and Style
While they may seem to be two unrelated entities, tattoo style often dictates tattoo longevity. To demonstrate, consider those tattoo artists who create their artwork using bold, dark lines and solid colours have results that work very well in the long run. The reason for this advantage lies in the fact that executing the boldness requires there to be more ink particles within the skin. As a result, some shifting and loss have little effect on the tattoo’s overall appearance.
On the other hand, creating a tattoo using small details and fine lines like micro-lettering or soft shading (for example, those artists use in colour portraits or watercolours) means that the final piece will have a shorter vibrancy period. In fact, tattoos in this style often require numerous re-touching sessions. And while it is relatively easy to touch up some fading, blur repair is more complicated. The artist can only add more ink to the tattoo as a cover-up to correct blurring. Therefore, you end up with a darker, larger and bolder tattoo anyway.
No matter the expected outcome, the choice of tattoo still falls to you and your preferences. It is your body; thus, it is best to leave the decision of what you would like best up to you. But no matter your selection, remember that your artist of choice maintains some level of experience and expertise over you. Therefore, it cannot hurt to take in some recommendations as to the best way to ensure that your tattoo lasts longer.