Can you imitate or replicate a tattoo done by another artist?
I can but I won’t. Tattoos should be unique, original works of art, custom-made for each and everyone of you.
Do you use flash? Is there a design catalog to choose from?
Fuck no! Flash sucks archæopteryx penis. Every tattoo ought to be a unique, original work of art, designed just for you and designed in such a way to fit naturally on the part of the body you want it. Tattoos picked from flash catalogs are none of that.
Yes, of course. If it is a good design and it’s original (i.e. not picked from a flash catalog or found somewhere on the internet), I’ll be more than happy to use it as a starting point for the tattoo. Otherwise, I’ll just use it as reference —as a rough sketch— and draw a new one for you, from scratch.
Do you use machines or are you doing it by hand (traditional Japanese style)?
Machines. Although charmingly traditional, the manual way is very limiting and incomparably slower and less accurate, totally insufficient and unsuitable for the range of techniques I need to use in order to create a tattoo.
Is it possible to do white or skin colour tattoos?
Theoretically, yes, it is possible. But —in my opinion— it’s a waste of time and doesn’t have much to do with the art of tattooing. So I don’t do it.
Does the colour fade away or disappear in time?
As the skin ages, it is only natural that the tattoo will also age with it, meaning —amongst others— some loss of colour and sharpness. But we’re talking decades here; the fading doesn’t happen suddenly or at a visible pace. As for disappearing completely, no, it’s not going to happen.
Can you do retouch jobs, complete unfinished works or cover up tattoos done by other artists?
It depends very much on the current tattoo, so I’ll have to see it first before giving a proper answer. However, whenever possible, I do retouches and cover-ups. Completing unfinished works is a bit problematic, since it’s almost impossible to attempt to match another artist’s style, but —if doable— I won’t refuse to give it a try.
I have a rough idea of what kind of tattoo I want to get, but can’t decide on the details… What to do?
Come in for a consultation meeting. If you have any sketches or sample images, bring them with you; they’ll come in handy. I have plenty of ideas too and I can make a lot of suggestions. We’ll have a talk, see the samples —yours and mine— make a few sketches and see if we can figure out the best way to take your ideas and make them into a good design.
Answers About the Pain
Does it hurt? How bad?
It does hurt, but not that bad. Tattoos are forever, which also means we’re gonna have to put them in the skin, not on it. But the needle doesn’t go that deep and, generally, the whole process is far from being totally unpleasant. So it does hurt, but not as much as you’d imagine before getting your first one. Think of it like this: anybody can get a tattoo. And here’s another one: I’ve had many clients who got so used with the whole thing that they’d doze off every time they’d come in for a session. Not kidding.
Has anybody ever quit because of the pain?
No, never. Really, it’s not that painful.
What’s the most/least painful place to get a tattoo?
To put it simply, wherever it tickles, it hurts too. Very sensitive areas like the inside of the arms, the back of the thighs or the sides of the body tend to hurt more than, for example, the areas accustomed to pain through our daily bumping into furniture (e.g. the forearms, the calves, the outside of the upper arms). Also, as you near articulations and joints (armpits, elbows etc.), as well as areas where bones protrude (like the shins, the top of the shoulder blades) there’s a little bit more pain than “usual”. I always advise against deciding the position of the tattoo based on how much the respective area would hurt or not but, if you’re really worried about it, ask me and we’ll figure out the alternatives.
Does it still hurt after it’s done? How long does the pain persist?
The tattooed area will swell a little and, most likely, is going to feel a bit tender for a day or two, but there isn’t going to be any pain once the tattooing is done. More like a rash; a little sore but not painful. As the tattoo starts to heal, the discomfort will fade away and be gone in a couple of days. Proper aftercare will also speed up the healing and soothe the skin, so it’s a good idea to follow it as instructed.
Answers About the Skin
Is it possible for someone suffering of atopy to get tattooed?
Yes, definitely. I’ve tattooed many people with atopy and never had any trouble. Sometimes it’s a little difficult to work on the most affected areas —like the inside of the elbow joint— but not impossible.
Is it possible to tattoo over burns or scars?
No, the keloid is practically impossible to tattoo properly; it doesn’t take in the ink uniformly and there’s a risk of scarring it even further. Usually, we attempt to place the design in such a way to avoid having to ink directly over the scar or, if not possible, modify the design to contain the scar inside one of its empty areas.
Is it possible to tattoo over moles or beauty marks?
No, not possible. Some moles contain cancer cells and it’s very dangerous to have them bleed, so the needle doesn’t go anywhere near. Usually, when it’s not possible to place the tattoo in such a way to avoid the moles, we try to modify the design to go around them as seamlessly as possible.
Is it possible to tattoo on sunburnt or tanned skin?
While it is possible, I usually avoid it. The peeling skin gets caught between the needles and stops the ink from flowing properly, so the whole procedure gets slowed down to a crawl by the tedious task of cleaning the needles every few minutes. Quite a hassle so, in most cases, I postpone the session until the tan fades out.
Is it possible to tattoo on face, lips, ears, front part of the neck, nipples, belly button, palms, penis and scrotum, labia minora, clitoris, anus, toes or soles?
OK, the needle can go through and the ink will probably stay in, but —in my experience— none of these places are suitable for proper tattooing, both because these locations are very difficult to work —hard to reach— and because the texture of the skin is not very permissive, thus seriously lowering the quality of the artwork. So I decided not to do any tattoo work on any of these parts of the body.
My skin is very delicate… Is it OK to get a tattoo?
Yes. It might swell or bleed —even hurt— more than usual, but it’s not a real obstacle.
Answers About the Aftercare
What does “aftercare” mean when it comes to tattooing?
Depending on the type of tattoo (i.e. soft grey shading designs, full black tribal ornaments etc.) I will give you detailed instructions as soon as we’re done but, basically, they’re going to be variations of the following:
During the healing period —which is approximately one week to ten days— the tattooed area must be kept clean and away from any activity that can cause it to bleed.
Washing the tattoo with soap —any kind of soap— and lukewarm water should be done at least once a day, but you must avoid soaking it; so shower is OK, bath is not. Of course, swimming too is a no-no.
If there is any scabbing, it is very important that the scabs fall naturally, which means no picking and no scratching.
Ointment needs to pe applied —in a thin layer— twice a day for the entire period (I will give you enough ointment to last for up to ten days). Overdoing it is unnecessary and might actually have adverse effects, so there’s no need to keep the tattoo daubed in ointment; twice a day, in a thin layer will be enough.
The tattoo should be allowed to breathe; no need for bandaging or keeping it covered.
Tanning should be avoided for about a month, in order to allow the skin to regenerate a bit and get back its natural protection abilities.
While it heals, the tattoo requires special attention and a little effort. Proper aftercare is very important during those 7–10 days and your dedication to it is what makes or breaks the tattoo; I will give 100% percent while I ink it —you have my word— but the outcome depends on whether you will give 100% too while it is healing.
How long does it take for the tattoo to heal?
For most people, about a week. It also depends on the type of the tattoo (e.g. soft, light grey shading areas heal a lot faster than bold, full black areas) and its location, as well as your general state of health but —usually— it doesn’t take more than 10 days. It takes a little longer, in some cases up to a month, for the skin to regenerate and return to its normal texture but, by then, the tattoo would’ve been completely healed.
Can I go to the beach, swimming pool, spa or gym right after I get tattooed?
Provided that the exercises won’t put the tattooed area in direct contact with the floor or equipment, gym should be OK. Otherwise, no beach, no pool —no swimming— and no spa —not even a bath— for about a week or two.
Answers About Hygiene
Are the needles disposable?
Yes, of course!
Are the inks disposable? How about the rest of the equipment?
Yes, and not only the inks. The ink caps, ointments, gloves, razors, skin markers, packaging for the sprays and the protective covers for the machines are all single-use.
Are the tools sterilized properly?
Yes. I’m using standard medical equipment for sterilization, as required by regulations. The non-disposable equipment —tattoo machines, tubes and grips, needle bars, scissors etc.— is always cleaned thoroughly, sterilized and kept sterile, as follows:
At least 90 minutes in the steam autoclave, at 140°C / 300 kPa;
At least 120 minutes in the ultraviolet sterilization container.
Non-diluted chlorhexidine gluconate [C₂₂H₃₀Cl₂N₁₀–2C₆H₁₂O₇] is used as a general purpose disinfectant (for tools, workspace and my hands).
Depending on the day of the week but, usually, for tattooing session appointments it takes about 2–3 months on weekdays and at least 3 months on weekends. For consultation meetings, the waiting period is not longer than a month, but —most of the time— only weekdays are available. The schedule changes all the time so there are chances I have openings earlier than that, even on weekends; drop me a line and we’ll see if we can accomodate you.
Can I cancel or postpone an appointment?
Yes, absolutely no problem. The only thing is that I need you to contact me —at least 3 days in advance for the tattooing session appointments or any time before the date of the consultation meetings— so we can reschedule. There is no cancellation fee but failing to contact me in case of last-minute cancellations will most likely result in refusal of future appointments.
Is it possible to watch while someone else is being tattooed?
No. Privacy is an important issue and I take it very seriously; no one but the person to be tattooed has access to the studio during the session. However, if the “someone else” is your friend and you have their permission, I have no problem with that.
May I bring a friend along?
Yes, but please let me know about it before you come over.
Answers About Prices
How much does it cost? Are prices negotiable?
The starting price is 21.000 yen (5% tax included), for small pieces up to the size of a regular business card. For anything larger than that, it depends very much on the size, complexity and duration but, as a rough idea, something the size of a regular pack of cigarettes would cost around 31.500 yen (tax included) and something the size of a greeting card would cost between 42.000 and 63.000 yen (tax included). For larger tattoos that require more than one session to complete, the price will be decided in function of its duration, at a fix rate of 15.000 yen per hour (no tax required). None of the prices are negotiable, but rest assured I’m not one of those greedy ones.
When the tattoo is something that can be done in a single session, the price will be decided subjectively, based on my experience with similar tattoos and taking in consideration the size and complexity of the design, as well as its estimated duration. For large pieces that require more than one session to complete, the price will be decided in an objective manner —taking in consideration only the duration of the tattoo— at a fix rate of 15.000 yen per hour (no tax required), in which case the payment will be done as we progress (no need to pay the entire amount up front).
Is it possible to get tattooed if I’m underage but I have parental consent?
No. Laws are very strict in Japan and they take precedence over parental consent, even when in written form.
I don’t have an ID (driver’s license, passport)… What to do?
I need to verify your age before proceeding, so the lack of any identification document will prevent me from doing that. Besides, being abroad and not having at least a passport in hand is quite a problem, so I’d suggest you focus on dealing with that before anything else ;)
Do you have a parking area at the studio?
No, but there are a few parking lots in the vicinity, within walking distance from the studio. Check out the printer-friendly map, some of the parking spaces are marked visibly.
Yes, absolutely, please feel free to link to any page you like. The days of asking permission for linking are long gone, everyone should be free to share information in any way they please.
May I use one (or more) of your photos —or any other image— on my own website?
Yes, of course, on condition that proper credit is given. All images on this website are copyrighted by Dali @ Graphic Tribe Tattoos and I expect a mention about this —in a visible place— on any web page publishing them. Also, it goes without saying that hotlinking is not OK ;)
A contraction of “tribal dragon”. I coined it a decade or so ago —can’t remember exactly why or what absinthe I was having— and, although “stylized dragon” would be more accurate, “trigon” —together with its Japanese form, トラヰゴン [toràigon]— stuck and caught pretty well, so I’ve kept it.