Beyond individual portrayal of enthusiasts, tattooing has provided artists with a ‘rockstar; livelihood.

Formally made famous by sailors, biker gangs and rockstars, tattoos are now a socially acceptable form of body art. From skulls to Celtic designs, people have found various ways to express themselves with the help of their tattoos.

Originating from the Polynesian word tatau, meaning “correct, workmanlike”, tattoo is a type of body modification which is made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to alter the pigment. After the ink is inserted into the skin layer, the wound scabs over letting the skin heal to exhibit a design under the new layer.

Whether tattoos can be considered as a form of art or not is a hot topic that still prevails until today. While some detest it because of its infamous associations with criminals and street gangs, the broad-minded have claimed it as one of the greatest and oldest human artistic expressions. In order to commemorate this creative and sensual body art, mainstream art galleries and festivals hold exhibitions of both conventional and custom-made tattoo designs. “I was really inspired to become a tattoo artist when I visited the Nepal Tattoo Convention held in Yak and Yeti this year. It takes such patience, vigilance and ingenuity to produce quality tattoos. I hope such events are organized annually to encourage us to become more imaginative and inventive” says Monica Tamang, an Arts student.

Tattoo artists truly push the limits of what can be done on the skin. They test the potential of how such a simple tool like permanent ink can establish linkages and memories that cannot be expressed in any other medium. Instead of a paper, they use the human body as a canvas to produce beautiful illustrations, each revealing a personal story. They, in a sense, become a part of you that becomes a permanent reminder of who you are as a person.

Located at Kirtipur, SaileshMaharjan (Kamu) has been quenching thirsts of tattoo junkies for quite some time now. The artist takes the art to a more personal level by studying and getting involved into the act. He speaks of the financial benefits that he’s been getting, “the cost of tattooing varies from one artist to another. Some start for a mere thousand bucks while others can charge up to 3500 or even more. The price in many ways depend on the artist’s experience which brings fineness, clarity of work, more detailed work and innovation.”

He further explains from a more personal notch, “Tattooing is a very good experience. It has financial gains and also you get to know more people - other tattoo artists and tattoo fanatics. It guarantees that your balance stays put even if you work for three or four hours a day.”

Tattoo may look cool and hip but keep in mind the risks that are involved. Allergic reactions and skin infections are common. Sometimes bumps called granulomas form around tattoo ink. Tattooing also can lead to keloids which are raised areas caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue. If the equipment used to create your tattoo is contaminated with infected blood, you can contract various blood borne diseases such as tetanus, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Be careful and patient before and after getting inked. Be wary of the health hazards and take good precautions. Ultimately, it depends on you whether or not to get a tattoo. Research on what kind of design you want and develop an eye for the art.

Tattoo artists truly push the limits... They test the potential of how such a simple tool like permanent ink can establish linkages and memories 

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