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Careful! Tattoos are for life!
by Cari Aguilar, Student Life editor

The popularity of tattoos with HPU students is obvious by the number of tattoos displayed on bodies around campus.

But before your skin is committed to ink for life, do your homework.

All tattoo artists were not created equal, and making the wrong choice could affect your health as well as the quality of your tattoo.

HPU student shows off body art - a tattoo of the Hawaiian Islands
Photo by Rick Bernico

Tattooing involves multiple injections of dye into the skin by a small machine using one or more needles. You may experience pain, and some bleeding. The procedure can take several hours, depending on the size of the tattoo, which takes 7 to 10 days to heal. The risks involved include allergic reactions to the dyes and contact with bacterial and/or viral infections. “ There have been cases of hepatitis B transmission through tattooing,” according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “Transmission of HIV and hepatitis C are possible but have never been reported” (March, 2002).

According to the Center For Disease Control, U.S. studies on viral hepatitis C reveal that in the last 20 years, less than one percent of people with newly acquired hepatitis C also have tattoos.
If proper sterilization techniques are followed, there is minimal risk involved. According to About.Com, which offers the following safety checklist as a guide to getting a tattoo:

  • Make sure the artist is wearing gloves.
  • Ask about what training the artist has completed.
  • Ask if the artist has been vaccinated for hepatitis B.
  • Make sure that ointment, ink, or water is not returned to a community container after it has been used on a client.
  • New, sterile needles should be removed from an autoclave bag in front of you.
  • Always ask to see pictures of the artist’s work.

“I’ve worked with people who can talk anybody into the chair,” said Mark Claunch, owner of Sharky’s Tattoo on Nu‘uanu Street. He said that he informs his customers about the procedure and shows samples of his work, before he agrees to do a tattoo. “ ‘ Can you actually draw?’ is one of the questions you should ask an artist before you get the tattoo,” Claunch said.

Claunch has this advice for choosing an artist:

  • Scrutinize the artists’ work for smooth lines and bold colors that are completely filled in.
  • If you see a tattoo that you like on someone, ask where he or she had it done.
  • Shop around. A biker-style tattoo parlor may be great for skull tattoos but may not be ideal for a more subtle design.
  • Tattoos are for life! Choose the design carefully. What you love today may not be so cool 20 years from now. Claunch spends half of his time covering up ill-chosen tattoos.



2002, Kalamalama, the HPU Student Newspaper. All rights reserved.
This site designed & maintained by Rick Bernico.