The Official Blog for Tattoo Artist Magazine

Health Issues With Tattooing (Marcus Kuhn)

By Petri Aspvik

Petri Aspvik: What type of physical problem have you encountered do to tattooing?

Marcus Kuhn: After 20 years I have pain in my number 11 acupuncture point just southeast of my right scapula as a result of the long swoop of lining and the repetitive pulse of the mag work. After four hours my shoulder becomes congested and starts to fill with fluid. like a nose when you are congested with the flu. The body is responding to the inflammation of the tissue by sending fluid to the area. At night my shoulder sometimes pulses with pain… The fluid takes three hours or more to drain. I have also lost a register of my hearing from the frequency of the ultrasonics and the running machines… 

Have you had to see a doctor, chiropractor, masseuse therapist, acupunctures or anything similar because problems or because you want to avoid them?

I see an acupuncturist and a masseuse who does deep tissue work and cupping. I also visit a chiropractor.

Have you modified your work station because you have encountered physical problems or wish to avoid them?

My chair is higher to reduce lower back strain. More light to reduce strain on eyes. Thinner foot pedal to reduce imbalance in pelvis caused by resting on left foot all day.

How did you first notice the imbalance and did you have to treat it in some way?

It has become apparent over the years a scan of my back by my chiropractor and hip pain alerted me to the cause of the pain being a shift in my pelvis causing sciatic pressure.

Do you follow a work out regime to keep in shape and healthy?

I work out three times a week to stay as strong as possible. Yoga ashtanga and hathfa and some kundalini. Also swimming laps and weight training and a few times a week go for a run. I also surf and take long walks often walking three four miles a day when traveling. Cardio makes me clearer and better focused and positive so my work is better.

Have you had to change your eating habits in any way because of tattooing?

I eat very carefully because it is easy to gain weight as a tattooer. After many years tattooing most people start to deteriorate. I try to not eat large meals late at night and then go to sleep. Better to eat three four small meals with the last early in the evening.

Do you snack between clients or during longer session? If you do, what do you eat/drink?

I eat proteins like nuts and dried fruits and veggies rice or fruit and lots of water.

What about spiritual/psychological health? How do you maintain that?

I am a practicing nichiren di shonin Buddhist and I have a very rich spiritual life which I consider the core of my artistic ability. I read a lot about many paths and how spirituality enriches me and my artistic life. I practice these principles ritualistically with as much discipline as I can. The key to good work is a balanced life

(Marcus Kuhn is featured in Tattoo Artist Magazine #22)

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17 responses

  1. I identify…It’s easy when you’re in your 20′s but then time takes it’s toll a bit in the 30′s…I’m wondering what it’s like for people in their 50′s.

    June 7, 2012 at 7:32 PM

  2. Thin footswitch…great idea and totally makes sense that the constant imbalance would cause problems…love this article.

    June 7, 2012 at 9:29 PM

  3. Yes, that’s how it is for tattooers in the biz 20 plus years. I’m 46 and just entered my 20th year of tattooing. I went through my fat/party phase from my late 20′s to around my middle 30′s. By the end of my 30′s I’d figured out this was not working for me and I would probably have serious health issues if I kept it up.
    I too do yoga and work out regularly. Eating often during the day will keep your metabolism high and help fight “tattoo gut”. I have tendonitis, in my right hand and constant ringing in the right ear. My left shoulder is also feeling the abuse, much as Marcus describes.
    Do everything you can while you’re young and fit to stay that way. Time takes its toll slowly and diligently. the effects will not show themselves until they have carved themselves deep into your body.
    Stay strong, and be happy.
    Jim

    June 8, 2012 at 3:31 AM

  4. This is just the first of a handful of Q & A’s with some of the world’s best tattooers on the subject of tattooing and your health; physical, mental, emotional, and yes…even spiritual health. Coming soon are follow-up posts on stretches, health tips, and other practices you can use to increase your healthiness.

    And if YOU are interested in contributing to this dialog, contact Petri and submit your answers to the same batch of questions. He’ll choose a new one each week.

    June 9, 2012 at 2:19 AM

  5. Pingback: Tattoo Artists - Exercise, diet and health | Tattoo Forum | Last Sparrow Tattoo

  6. http://www.lastsparrowtattoo.com/forum/war-stories/2378-tattoo-artists-exercise-diet-health.html#post37589

    There are already more waiting to be posted, but happy to start the ball rolling and do more! If any of the artists who I originally contacted in regards of this havent seen the new emails, hit me up! Would hate to have the material to go to waste

    petri1891 (a) hailmail. net

    ps. Here are the questions

    What type of physical problem have you encountered due to tattooing?

    Have you had to see a doctor, chiropractor, masseuse therapist, acupunctures or anything similar because problems or because you want to avoid them?

    Have you modified your work station because you have encountered physical problems or wish to avoid them?

    Do you follow a work out regime to keep in shape and healthy?

    Have you had to change your eating habits in any way because of tattooing?

    Do you snack between clients or during longer session? If you do, what do you eat/drink?

    What about spiritual/psychological health? How do you maintain that?

    I can do follow up questions based on the answers, if I want to know more

    -Petri-

    June 9, 2012 at 6:11 AM

  7. Pingback: Markus Lenhard: Workplace Ergonomics and Long Term Health Improvement Techniques for Tattoo Artists « TAM Blog

  8. Alright my level of Artist is nothing in comparison[measurable in hours,] but want to continue on. An Art I find very interesting, satisfying, and a great feeling to know people carry your art. But, I have had an experience of seizures. They were more common, but are controlled now. I had my drivers’ license pulled due to this. It has been long enough from the last to drive, should I continue doing art again? My Wife wants me to get rid of my equipment, but it’s a very hard thing to do….

    June 17, 2012 at 12:09 PM

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