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Questions about Tattoos

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  #1  
Old 11-14-2010, 11:37 AM
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Default Questions about Tattoos


Hello dear, lovely members of WB,

In the fantasy world I'm currently working in, one culture marks membership, status, etc. via tattoos. Rather inconveniently, not only do I know next to nothing about tattoos, but I also have been having trouble finding the information that I'm looking for via google.

[If any of these are incredibly stupid... umm... just have a cookie? Yes? Ok. Thank you!]
  1. How early in one's life would it make sense for people to get the tattoos? I'm assuming that since they're on the skin, getting them as a child would make no sense, because the skin would stretch as they grew, yes? (If anyone can think of a way for this not to be true, that would be awesome. This is really hard to google because, uh, most people don't tattoo their kids.) I'd really like my 16-year-old protagonist to have had a tattoo covering most of her arm for the majority of her life. Is that going to be impossible?
  2. Is there any way other than super-modern methods (laser surgery, light therapy, removal creams) to get rid of a tattoo?
  3. If anyone can direct me to some reliable information on what pre-modern tattoing methods were like, that would also be really helpful; the current level of technology in the world is roughly steampunk (I have this wonderful image in my head of a steam-powered tattoo machine...), but the culture has been doing this for at least 500 years, so it'd be good to have an idea of the traditions that may have risen up around the process. A lot of the 'history of tattoo' websites I've found talk about how they were used in different cultures, what they signified, etc. but not much about how they were actually done.


Thanks!

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Old 11-14-2010, 11:46 AM
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I don't know if it works, but I has seen a character on tv remove a tattoo with acid.
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Old 11-14-2010, 12:49 PM
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It would make sense to have your kids tattooed as the hit puberty (google tribal scarring for similar, and whys and wherefores).

Also check out traditional japanese tattooists; they still work the old way, using slivers of bamboo rather than a machine.

http://www.tao-of-tattoos.com/tebori.html
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Old 11-14-2010, 01:20 PM
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Ditto on the person that said tattoos at puberty; one's skin isn't going to "stretch" enough after that to matter.
Anyway, I've seen people who got tattoos when they were thin and then became monstrously fat; the tattoos may stretch a little, but not enough to significantly alter them.

Yes, laser tattoo removal already exists; it removes tattoos completely, and leaves little if any scarring.
If your world is a fantasy world, however, it's really up to you whether or not laser tattoo removal (or even some other means of tattoo removal) exists.
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Old 01-25-2011, 08:38 PM
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There are some african cultures that mark status with tattoos or scarification. The designs are usually very large, or rounded and sharp angles. As the person grows, the tattoo really isn't altered all that much.

The common places for a tattoo of status, from childhood, is the face. For some cultures, arm tattoos were reserved for warriors, to mark how many kills a warrior had, what he had done and who he had defeated. In some cultures, certain lines tattooed on the hand meant you were a head hunter (for lack of a better english word).

I recommend you look up tribal tatooing, aboriginal tattoos and culture. It'll help you A LOT. If you're lucky, a few of the young ones still do tattooing. If you talk on their forums, they could tell you how the tattoos turn out as they get older.
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Old 02-03-2011, 02:21 AM
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I agree with the other posters here- adolescence is probably the best age. I still have tattoos from when I was a teenager, and they haven't changed that much - only faded a bit.

I don't know about non- modern tattoo removal methods - other than cutting or burning the tattoo out, which doesn't sound fun at all.

There are many methods of inking the skin, from the very modern "tattoo gun" to the good old "needle, thread and India ink" method (I have one done that way myself). I'd google or wiki "making a tattoo machine" or "history of the tattoo gun" to get the details. They all operate on the same basic principle, and you should get enough info to come up with your own version for your writing.

Hope it goes well!

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Old 02-03-2011, 01:18 PM
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One way to get rid of a tattoo is to not actually get rid of the tattoo but to hide it with further tattoos.
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Old 02-05-2011, 05:07 PM
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To question number 2, I suggest cutting off one's arm.
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Old 02-06-2011, 01:34 AM
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Originally Posted by MoltenLight View Post
To question number 2, I suggest cutting off one's arm.
What do you do it the tattoo is on the torso?
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Old 02-06-2011, 01:41 AM
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I was going to say that!
When you get a tattoo you are injecting ink into your system, causing your body to fight it off like it was an infection. This is why they seep, bleed and eventually scab over before falling off to reveal tattoo. Everyone's different, some don't bleed, but all weep and the bigger the tattoo, the more likely it'll bleed. My point being, a child would probably have a more adverse reaction than a eighteen year old. My hip tattoos stretched when I was pregnant and never fully returned to their normal state although I'm smaller now.
Hope this helps.
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Kas81 View Post
I was going to say that!
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Great minds think alike
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:49 AM
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Puberty would be best time.

As for pre-modern methods of tattooing I would look at the Maori people of New Zealand and tribes from Africa. There is a show on I believe the History channel that shows different cultures and their tattooing practices. Many of them use a type of needle and a kind of "stick" (for lack of a better word) and literally just hammer the tattoo into the middle layer of skin.
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