A tattoo is an ink design added into the skin, generally with the help of a needle. This procedure has prehistoric roots, it has been used by people for thousands of years, in various forms. Examples can be seen in the majority of human cultures, and despite some societal stigma, tattoos are getting to be ubiquitous in the West, with an estimated 25 percent of American people are wearing at least one by the end of the twentieth century.
If you know you eventually want a sleeve, or if you’re going full-sleeve right out the gate, then Gualteros recommends starting at the shoulder. From there, you’ll work your way down the arm. “If someone came to me and let me do whatever I wanted, I’d start from the top with something that fits the body,” he says. “Something that doesn’t look like a sticker on the arm, then bring it down and fill it in.” Alternatively, he notes that some of his customers and fellow artists prefer to start at the wrist and work their way up, but on the same principle: By starting on one end, you aren’t guessing where to place everything else. Instead, you’re moving up or down the sleeve and filling it in with some kind of order.
"The sun definitely takes some years off your tattoo, and if you are a frequent sunbather or cannot commit to putting sunscreen on your tattoos, you should probably stick to areas of your body that don't typically see the sun," Villani says. "[...] Beyond the initial couple weeks, the sun can still dramatically fade tattoos over time. It is so important to keep sunscreen on tattoos that are exposed to the sun." So, while your artist may give you a time period where sunscreen is most important, try to be as vigilant as possible forever, regardless.
"You can never go wrong with black and greyscale tattoos," Villani says. "Black ink lasts better than any color ever will [...] Bright and vibrant colors look great at first, but tend to fade the quickest. This is often why watercolor tattoos are frowned upon. They tend to not always last the test of time." So, if you and your artist are brainstorming a design, remember to consider color as part of the equation.
The word tattoo, or tattow in the 18th century, is a loanword from the Samoan word tatau, meaning "to strike". The Oxford English Dictionary gives the etymology of tattoo as "In 18th c. tattaow, tattow. From Polynesian (Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, etc.) tatau. In Marquesan, tatu." Before the importation of the Polynesian word, the practice of tattooing had been described in the West as painting, scarring or staining.