A Body of Art

Art and jewellery on different parts of the body are quite a fashion statement in today's world

TattooBody art is right up there on the popularity charts these days. More and more people are choosing to wear decorative symbols on their bodies. Alternately, they prefer to stick a stud or ring through their navel, earlobe or nose. That one Chennai-based tattoo and body piercing studio did about 112 tattoos in the two months following their launch speaks volumes about the rage that body art has become. What is body art all about? And, more importantly, does it have therapeutic effects?

Why have a tattoo done?

As a symbol of power, rebellion, individuality or self-expression, tattoos are here to stay. Many use tattoos as an expression of feelings toward their loved ones. Others view it as a memorial to a dead parent or friend. "Interestingly, many of our customers are in the 22-plus age group," says Naveen Kumar, the engineer-turned-tattoo-studio owner of Irezumi, a tattoo and body piercing studio.

How a tattoo is done

The process of picking a tattoo can be a long journey. After all, it is your body and a tattoo is permanent art; so you'd better be sure you like what you're getting. There are designs aplenty — from angels, barbed wires, Japanese calligraphy, and zodiac signs to everyday designs like butterflies and flowers to a range of tribal art. Designs are purchased from artists the world over or custom designed for a client. The area of the skin where the tattoo is to be done is cleaned and shaved, as even a tiny amount of hair can get in the way. The needles are sterilised and the ink used is usually certified to be safe. Once you've zeroed in on the design, a tattoo artist works on the outline in detail, and shading. An elaborate design could take a few sittings while a simple one could take just one session. Black,dark blue and deep maroon colours are the most sought-after because it is difficult to make an impression using a light colour on dark skin. Tattoos can cost anywhere from Rs 2000 Rs to Rs 20000.

How a piercing is done

In case of a piercing, the pierced area is cleaned with alcohol. Disposable needles are used to pierce the skin and surgical steel ornaments are used — unless the customer is allergic to steel, in which case a more skin-friendly metal (gold, diamond) is opted for.

Aftercare tips

It is important to strictly follow the advice of your tattoo artist so it has a chance to blend well into your skin and heal completely.

The first two weeks after you get your tattoo are the most critical in terms of aftercare. The tattoo is like any other wound and is vulnerable to infection, if you don't care for it.

  • Apply the prescribed ointment on the area for the first three days.
  • No swimming or exercising at the gym for two weeks is the general advice. This is because water from the pool could cause an infection; also, sweat could dilute the ink on your tattoo.
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight.
  • It is wise to apply oil and keep the area moisturised.
  • Do not wear tight clothes.
  • If you have a tattoo on your back, sleep on your stomach, and vice versa.

Does getting a tattoo hurt?

All of us have a different pain threshold and that is what determines the pain you suffer. It feels like a burn for the initial five minutes, say some. But the pain is worth the gain, say others.

New options in tattoos

The team at Irezumi has also tried to integrate tattooing and piercing with the therapeutic benefits of acupuncture, under the guidance of renowned acupuncturist M N Sankar. Increasingly accepted by many as a solution to a range of medical ailments like obesity, hair loss, migraine, sinusitis, liver dysfunction and back pain, piercing certain key body points has proven results in eradicating problems.

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