Before I write this post, I would like to encourage everyone to read this powerful post by a guy who has so much insight to share. Please listen to him, especially if you have children of your own.
I spend a lot of time browsing news articles relating to tattoos, and many of them are gang crimes, or stories of people tattooing their children, or backyard tattooists tattooing 12 year olds etc. I don’t really write about these kinds of things in my blog, because the aim of my blog is to promote the positive aspects of the tattoo world, entertain people, and perhaps to give insight from someone who has a few hours in the chair racked up. From time to time, I do find some things that I stash away in a notepad document with the intent of using it in a post.
I have recently seen a number of articles cropping up about people who get tattoos with human ashes mixed into the ink, like this woman. I found this really intriguing, as a popular reason for people to get tattooed is to commemorate a loved one. There are many different styles of commemorative tattoos, including religious iconography, claddaghs, prayers and traditional hearts or roses with banners. Many people will often get a picture of an activity or object that was very special to their dearly departed. Some people get a small piece of script, others get a large portrait of the person they are paying tribute to. These tattoos are all determined by a combination of the recipients taste, and their interpretation of the personality of the deceased. I have a large portrait of my father with a filigree border and a traditional banner, because I like both filigree and traditional flash, and Lauren makes them work together so well. The picture I chose of Dad was one that I thought really sums him up – cool and laidback. I mentioned previously that my granny wasn’t happy with the picture choice at all, because he has a ciggie in his mouth (Dad quit when he was 21). This is what I mean when I say “their interpretation of the personality of the deceased”. Whereas I always considered Dad to be primarily cool (I sometimes heard ZZ Top in my head while watching him play pool), I’m quite sure that Granny mostly thought of him as her darling, handsome and intelligent first born son with a halo over his head!
This new idea of having cremation ashes mixed in with tattoo ink could very well be a legitimate step forward in RIP tattoos for the industry in the developed world. I say developed world, because using human ashes in tattoo ink is allegedly dependant upon the correct cremation process (the way we cremate in NZ/Australia is an example of this).
There is a tattooist in Tasmania who specialises in using human ashes in ink, although there is definitely quite a debate on whether or not it should be done. I emailed a query about the process to the team at TnT Tattooing, which is a top-standard studio, in terms of both tattoo artistry, and industry regulations. The reply I received was quick, gracious and polite – although a nice idea, the TnT artists do not do it purely because there is not a lot of precedent or research on this type of tattooing, and it could be risky. I agree with that wholeheartedly.
Its bad enough that tattoo artists have to worry about whether people will use proper aftercare of their tattoo, let alone trying strange new procedures. Many people trash their new tattoo and get it infected, and then try and lay blame on tattoo artists, or let their tattoo heal all patchy and then tell people that the artist is terrible. Aftercare is as important as the execution of the tattoo itself, so I hope everyone reading this at least takes that away with them – not only do you want a nice tattoo, but you don’t want your artists work to look shit.
Word around the campfire seems to be that the main risk associated with using human ashes mixed with tattoo ink, is that the body tends to reject impurities in tattoo ink pigment, similar to the way it rejects a splinter, and this risk would be increased by adding human ashes. That’s fair enough, but will there ever be any proper research done to perhaps make it a standard tattoo practice? I know that I would definitely like to have it done in a safe and hygienic capacity, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Imagine having a part of your loved one living on in your skin until it is your time to meet them again.
Love, Chelle xoxoxoxooxoxxooxox