A four leaf clover to celebrate Irish heritage, a rose to honor the life of a loved one who passed away, a belly button ring as a souvenir from a spring break trip to Cancun-the possibilities are endless for those who chose to express their individuality through body piercings and tattoos.
But before people run out to get a design permanently engraved on their bodies or holes pierced through their skin, there are many factors to take into consideration.
“The one thing that leads to a bad tattoo is impulsiveness,” said Sean Peters, a tattoo artist at A Splash of Color tattoo and body piercing studio on Grand River Ave.[tat]
Just like they say a diamond is forever, so is a tattoo. Before going to get a tattoo, people have to take into account their future, especially with their potential careers. In fact, a person should recognize what they will be thinking five years from now, Peters said.
For example, David Vidra is a body piercer at A Splash of Color, but also works as a nurse. Part of the job requirement is not having visible tattoos or body jewelry. Therefore, all of his body art is in places that are not visible when he is working. For Kacey O’Quinn, her tattoo is a form of self-expression. She also put her tattoo somewhere where it is not easily seen. “It is just for me and, whomever I want to see it, so its not like ‘Oh look at me, I have a tattoo’,” O’Quinn said.
With today’s new technology, tattoos don’t have to last forever. People can get rid of their tattoos by a series of laser treatments. Dr. William Ehrlich, a cosmetic surgeon in East Lansing, has had about 55 patients that come in to get their tattoos removed.
“The number one reason why people get tattoos removed is that people don’t like them anymore,” Ehrlich said. “It takes anywhere from 7 to 12 treatments to remove a tattoo, with each treatment costing anywhere between $200-$600.”
His advice for people considering getting a tattoo is to use black ink because that is the easiest to get out and to put the tattoo “somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine” or at least where it can be covered up by a bathing suit.
Another important consideration is finding the right studio. This can make all the difference in having a positive tattoo experience.
Peters warns that getting a tattoo isn’t like buying a new car. “People shouldn’t shop around for the best deal or the cheapest tattoo,” Peters said. “Sometimes, studios can cut corners on health and safety to make it cheaper for people.”
Health and safety are the biggest thing that should determine where people get their tattoo or body piercing. People should look for a studio where tattoo artists and body piercers have a wide knowledge of sterilization techniques, as well as make sure they are all educated in blood borne pathogen safety.
“People need to ask questions about health and safety,” said Vidra. “If they don’t ask questions, they could be putting themselves at risk for acquiring diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C.”
For people who want a body piercing, they should go somewhere where the body piercer has knowledge of human anatomy. Like people were told in grade school, not everybody is the same, the same applies for a piercing: not every body part can be pierced. In fact, 50 percent of customers who want to get their tongue pierced at A Splash of Color are turned away because a tongue piercing would be unsafe for that particular person. The tattoo artist or piercer should also be able to tell people the proper treatment and care of their new piercing or tattoo.
No matter what a person’s preference is, tattoos and a body piercing can be a positive experience as long as people take the proper precautions and realize that getting a tattoo isn’t like buying a new dress where people can wear it when it is in style, then get rid of it once it goes out of style.
On the same note, if a person gets a tattoo from somewhere that does a great job to ensure the health and safety of both the person getting the tattoo and the artist, it can be one of the best decisions of a person’s life.
“People buy clothes as a way to express themselves,” said Jessica Carpenter, a psychology student who has her eyebrow pierced. “I wouldn’t get a tattoo, but my piercing is an expression and reflection of myself.”

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