By Tom Blackwell
Mention tattooing and health in the same sentence, and chances are the topic is one of the nasty infectious diseases — from HIV to Hep C — that can be transmitted by dirty needles.
A new Canadian study, though, may be about to change that image, suggesting that tattooing equipment could actually be an effective new way to combat an array of skin conditions, penetrating deep enough to deliver drugs to the right cells, but not so far that the needle prods sensitive nerves.
“It’s logical that it works…. But we were amazed”
The just-published research found evidence that tattooing could greatly improve treatment for cutaneous leishmaniasis, a parasite that leaves millions of people worldwide with disfiguring, and often emotionally devastating, facial sores. It affects mainly developing countries, but even Canadian soldiers returning from Afghanistan have contracted the illness.
The technology, though, could eventually have application in treating skin cancer, psoriasis and other ailments, speculates the scientist behind the project.
“We were extremely excited, very surprised [at the success of the experiment],” said Anny Fortin, a biochemist who did the work at McGill University. “If you think about it, it’s logical that it works.… But we were amazed.”
She cautioned that the initial study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, was conducted on mice, so there is no guarantee the results will translate into humans. The next step is further drug-tattooing work on pigs, whose skin is closer to that of people, and then to try the technique on humans if the animal research is successful.
Ms. Fortin said she came up with the idea after talking to a colleague who works for a company that makes tattooing equipment for applying permanent makeup. She obtained funding to explore the novel idea from Grand Challenges Canada — a federally funded agency that finances research on affordable innovations to attack health threats in poor countries.
Leishmaniasis, it turns out, is ripe for some kind of new approach. Caused by a parasite that sand flies transmit, the most dangerous form attacks internal organs and can be fatal.
The more common cutaneous version will not kill, but leaves patients with stigma-inducing ulcers on their faces, sometimes making it difficult for them to find a spouse or otherwise affecting their lives deeply. An estimated 1.5 million new cases are recorded yearly.
None of the current treatment options are ideal. One drug can be administered systemically, but the intramuscular injections — one a day for a month — are toxic and painful. Hypodermics are also used to deliver the same drug directly into the lesion, also extremely painful.
“I’ve seen children being treated, six people were needed to immobilize the child and this little kid was screaming like crazy,” said Ms. Fortin.
The tattooing machine targets Leishmania cells just below the surface of the sore, depositing the drug — instead of ink — into the bottom of the little holes it creates, far less painfully than a hypodermic needle. Ironically, it acts in much the same way as the fly injects the parasite when it bites someone, said Ms. Fortin.
Her study compared treatment of ulcers in mice using the tattooing gear, versus the intramuscular injections, and a topical ointment applied on the ulcer. The tattoo method was the most effective in all cases, clearing up the lesions completely, the study reported.
It is possible the heat generated by the tattooing also helps, triggering inflammation that brings immune cells to attack the pathogen, said Prof. Uzonna.
Ms. Fortin said she is now trying to obtain another round of Grand Challenges funding, which would require her to find matching grants from other sources.
By Marisa Kakoulas
So, you can take a minute and read the Gizmodo article first. Or not.
I first asked Anna what she thought were some glaring mistakes in the post. Here’s what she said:
ANNA: By the third sentence of this “article” I knew it was going to be a doozy. The problem with this statement, “That tradition continues today, just with a much smaller chance of infection” is a) it’s incredibly melodramatic and b) it’s just not true. Many (if not most?) traditional tattoo practitioners were acutely aware of the possibility of infection, one of the reasons why we perhaps see suspension mediums in traditional tattoo “ink” recipes like alium juice or even one of my favorite rare ones, human breastmilk, both of which contain natural antibacterial agents. Rest periods for people having undergone tattooing are common cross-culturally (presumably to let the body heal and lessen the chance of infection). And with the rise of “tattoo parties” and so much home-tattooing by amateurs untrained in proper safe practices with bloodborne pathogens, there is a huge risk of all sorts of infections in the contemporary era.
Re: the image of the “Pict” “tattoos”: had the writer just done a tiny bit of searching re: this image, he might have realized this image is a fantasy and does not represent tattoos. Scholars are still not sure if the descriptions of body art on the Picts were tattoos or just body painting (leaning toward the latter), but they definitely were not 16th century French-inspired floral designs in multi-color (they were described as woad-like, which is blueish in color). The image is also not attributed to the source, and I’m guessing when the owner (Yale University) finds out it’s been used without attribution, they will have it pulled. Here are some links to some of my posts on one of the other images from the same book (John White’s equally fantastic Pict images), which mention fantasy and have more elucidation of some of these problems: Image 1 (below), Image 2, and Image 3.
Matt also noted the misinformation on Picts and cited “The Pictish Tattoo: Origins of a Myth” by Richard Dibon-Smith for reference.
As for the “These days, it’s not just sailors and ruffians that get inked” line (and the whole paragraph really), read Matt’s attack on tattoo cliches.
Above: Lars Krutak with one of the last tattooed Kalinga warriors Jaime Alos outside of Tabuk, Philippines.
I’m also grateful for the extensive critique of the article that Lars offered:
LARS: Otzi is not the oldest evidence as this article seems to purport. The oldest is a 7000-year-old male mummy of the Chinchorro culture of South America and this man wears a tattooed mustache on his upper-lip, so the earliest evidence is cosmetic. [Actually, the cited Smithsonian article had several glaring errors and I never cite it - period! - even though I work at the Smithsonian! Dr. Fletcher stated that Otzi is the oldest tattoo evidence, but she is no doubt incorrect and I like mythbusting this oft-stated "fact."]
Gizmodo: The Inuit, for example, have been tattooing themselves in the name of beauty and a peaceful afterlife since at least the 13th century.
LARS – The earliest evidence of tattooing in all of North America is a Palaeo-Eskimo ivory maskette from Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada whose face is completely covered with tattoos and it dates to -3500 BP. This object most likely represents a woman. So the practice is much older than the author presumes. For “beauty” is pretty much horseshit – see my comments below. Much circumpolar tattooing aimed to repel the advances of disease-bearing evil spirits and there were multiple forms of medicinal tattooing to relieve painful rheumatism (a la the Iceman), painful swellings, facial paralysis, and even to increase the production of a woman’s breast milk.
Gizmodo: Similarly, in the the [sic] Cree tribe, men would often tattoo their entire bodies while the women would wear ornate designs running from mid-torso to pelvis as protective wards for a safe pregnancy.
LARS: I have never heard anything about safe pregnancies in relation to Cree tattoo, although I am aware of tattoos in other parts of North America to promote fertility or ensure that the first thing a newborn saw was a thing of beauty (eg, inner thigh tattoo, Inuit region). Indeed, Cree men (Plains Cree, Wood Cree) were tattooed on their torso, but only for war honors. These tattoos had to be earned so only successful warriors would have worn such tattoos. The author makes it sounds like every man had them, but this is simply not true.
To read this full article, go to: http://www.needlesandsins.com/2014/03/tattoo-history-myths-exposed.html
By Nick Baxter
Here’s a process sequence for a tiny diptych painting I did a few months ago related to the recurring theme in my work of healing wounds.
This tiny little pair will be included in the forthcoming art catalogue Pint Size Paintings Volume 2, which compiles these small paintings completed by members of the worldwide tattoo community, and features them in a traveling art show.
I wrote about the Tibetan Buddhist symbolism surrounding my use of the hook symbol last year, after completing Shenpa I (which now resides in the collection of the amazing and prolific figurative painter Shawn Barber!).
By Mitch Dudek
Occasionally mixed among the family photos on Dr. Tyler Koski’s cellphone are pictures of back tattoos.
Koski, a surgeon, takes pains to preserve patients’ tattoos when he fixes their spines.
He’ll slice the inked skin, spend hours tinkering with a spine, and then study the picture the way someone working on a jigsaw puzzle looks at the box.
“It’s easy if the tattoo is letters or words, but when it’s a picture, it gets trickier,” said Koski, 40, co-director of the Northwestern Medicine Spine Center.
After concentrating for hours while standing on their feet, many surgeons will use staples — a quicker, easier option and less tattoo-friendly way to close a wound.
But Koski will spend an extra 45 minutes carefully stitching tattooed skin, even if a patient tells him not to “worry about making my tattoo look good.”
“It’s an art form like anything else. And people are proud of them and they are meant to be permanent,” said Koski, who doesn’t have any tattoos.
Hand-poked tattoos are experiencing a Renaissance, with stellar professional tattooers reviving the ancient methods of body adornment. Employing techniques passed down from generations, much of hand tattooing comes with strict tradition and sacred rituals. The question is should it come in a box?
When SF tattooist Shannon Archuleta sent me the link to the Stick & Poke Tattoo Kit, we both said that our initial reaction was Oooh nooo. Then there’s the rationalization reaction: people have always been sticking and poking themselves, so they might as well be safe. This rationalization is how the kit is touted.
However, upon further reading of the site — particularly the “Open letter to the precious tattoo artist” on the blog portion — the disdain for the craft, the hygiene 101 info and bad advice on what to do with the dirty needles, and also the goal of putting the kits in stores around the world, well, it made Shannon and I revert to our original reaction: this is not a good thing.
To read more of this article, go to: http://www.needlesandsins.com/2014/01/stick-and-poke-tattoo-kits.html
By Katy Watson
Source: BBC News, Baltimore: http://www.bbc.co.uk
A tattooist in Baltimore has built up a huge customer base because of his unusual specialty – tattooing nipples on to women who have suffered from cancer and had their breasts removed.
There is something very familiar about the suburbs of small towns across America.
The roads are big and distances long, but sooner or later you are guaranteed to come across a strip mall – a little open air shopping complex along the side of a main road.
And so there I was, 20 minutes outside Baltimore, parked outside one of these strip malls.
This one had a 24-hour pharmacy as well as a veterinary surgery, a hairdresser’s, a tanning shop and a tattoo parlour – Little Vinnie’s Tattoos, to be precise, and it was Little Vinnie I had come to meet.
He was a friendly man dressed in a tweed waistcoat, a striped shirt and a smart felt hat. Vinnie shook our hands, welcomed us in and showed us around his business.
The walls were covered in tattoo art with catalogues lined up at the back of the room, packed with thousands of designs to choose from.
A classic heart with a dagger through the middle, perhaps? Or maybe your favourite cartoon character or – if you are feeling patriotic – you could choose from a bald eagle or the American flag.
A few customers were sitting on the benches, waiting to go in one of the six studios along the side of the wall, each with a black crushed velvet curtain for a door.
But one studio on the other side of the room stood out. It had more of a structure to it and a wooden door, much like an office or a doctor’s surgery.
Rather appropriate really, because although Vinnie has no medical training, he has become a bit of a star in the medical world.
He no longer spends his day tattooing anchors on men’s biceps. In fact, most of his clients are women and they have one thing in common, they are all recovering from breast cancer.
A few years ago, a doctor in Baltimore asked Vinnie to help out with a patient who had had breast reconstruction, leaving her with no nipples.
So realistic were his skills in creating 3D nipple tattoos, patients started demanding him over doctors who typically carry out basic tattoos as the final stage of reconstruction.
Now, he says, it has taken over his life. Vinnie sees up to 1,400 patients a year and travels across the country and beyond.
To prove it, there is a map in his studio with pins in it, showing where people come from – he has clients in countries as far away as Saudi Arabia, no mean feat in a part of the world where tattoos are considered haram, or forbidden.
When I was visiting, Sarah had just finished her appointment and was beaming.
Sarah is in her mid-30s and last year was devastated to find out she had cancer – just a few months after being told she was pregnant.
Within a month of giving birth to her son, she had to have an operation to remove both her breasts. She describes the first time she took off her bandages as the hardest day of her life.
“Every time you go and take a shower you see these scars that are a permanent reminder of what you just went through,” she says.
But now she can smile.
“I have other tattoos but I never thought I would be getting my nipples done.” It is certainly a conversation starter, she jokes.
A self-confessed bad boy who learned his trade while in the army, Vinnie says there are a million people who need this done, but just a handful of people doing it.
He was even asked to fly to the United Arab Emirates recently because there were about 20 women who wanted his tattoos – but only three of their husbands would give them permission, so he could not go.
Such is his reputation, he is affectionately nicknamed “the Michelangelo of nipple tattoos”. But Vinnie plays down his talents – he says his work is not artistically challenging.
In fact, he got fed up a few years ago and decided to stop. He said enough was enough and he wanted to get back to regular tattoos.
But then one day a woman called him up to ask for an appointment. He said “No” and she sounded very upset.
Then out of the blue his sister called, telling him she had breast cancer too. It was a sign, he says, that he had to continue with this work.
“You lose the artistic satisfaction but then you gain this other satisfaction that is incredible,” he says. “I was not prepared for how it was going to make me feel.”
By Marisa Kakoulas
Photo by Edgar Hoill.
As a happy update to our post on the French Health Ministry’s attempted ban of most colored inks, the association of professional tattooers in France, Tatouage & Partage, received a letter from health officials stating that the proposed ban was “malentendu” — a misunderstanding. You can find a copy of the letter here.
According to the AFP:
“The ban was “misinterpreted” by the government offices in charge of implementing it, he said, expressing relief on behalf of France’s 3,500 to 4,000 professional tattoo artists. […]
The tattoo artists’ association said the problem was one of the four tables printed in the government decree announcing the ban, which listed the dyes allowed in cosmetic products…”
To read the rest of this article, go to: http://www.needlesandsins.com/2013/12/color-tattoo-saved-in-france.html
As a tattoo artist, it’s also important to protect your work from the fading and discoloration that can affect tattoos if they’re not properly treated. Although it’s not possible to make sure your clients are consistent with their aftercare routine, you can suggest the right products that will heal and protect your artwork that they wear.
Pride Aftercare by TATSoul has a three step system to cleanse, heal and protect new tattoos. The cleanser, ointment and lotion are specially formulated with natural ingredients to work together for best results.
The latest addition in Pride Aftercare’s system is the Tattoo Ointment. Pride Aftercare Tattoo Ointment is specifically formulated to heal tattoos so you can be assured that the gentle ingredients will in no way affect the new ink. Unlike other ointments, Pride Aftercare’s oil remains intact, allowing for better consistency and protection (see below).
Pride Aftercare’s Tattoo Ointment contains no dyes or fragrances and is approved by tattoo professionals and skin care specialists for its moisturizing and anti-aging ingredients. It may also be used to treat minor skin irritations.
Whether it’s your own tattoo or a piece you’ve just completed, make sure to treat it with the Pride Aftercare system to cleanse, heal and protect your new tattoo. Keep your work remaining vibrant for years to come.
Pride Aftercare’s Website: www.prideaftercare.com
Pride Aftercare’s Instagram: @prideaftercare
Pride Aftercare’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/prideaftercare
By Marisa Kakoulas
Reblogged from: http://www.needlesandsins.com
Last week, I wrote, with a heavy heart, about how the tattoo community lost one of our own, Agit Sustento, in the devastating typhoon in the Philippines. And, as a true community, artists and collectors from around the world are joining Tattoo for the Philippines, and raising funds to be donated to the Red Cross relief efforts in the country. Find a list of participating artists here – and more are artists are welcome to be a part of it.
“The inspiration for the tattoo design comes from an artifact known as the Manunggul Jar. The artifact was discovered in a burial site Manunggal Cave in Lipuun Point, Quezon, Palawan. It was chosen as the inspiration for the design because the figures represent guides taking the deceased to the next life, in essence guiding the souls of those who died. The artist’s interpretation of the design is in the style of a petroglyph. This style was chosen as a nod to the indigenous cultures of the Philippines. The design also incorporates a dedication to Jonas Agit Sustento, a tattoo artist and musician from Tacloban, who perished in the typhoon along with several members of his family.”
The cost of the tattoo is $30.00 U.S. or $20.00 Euros. The costs of supplies will be borne by the tattoo artists who are also dedicating their time.
Find more info on Facebook.
By Marisa Kakoulas
Reblogged from: http://www.needlesandsins.com
Tattooing’s transformative magic is none more evident than on the fierce women whose battle scars with cancer are morphed into beautiful works of art. We’ve gotten many messages since our P.Ink Day post, in which we wrote about how the P.Ink or Personal Ink Project brought ten tattooists and ten cancer survivors together to create exceptional tattoos over mastectomy scars. So grateful to all of you for your inspirational stories.
“We saw your blog and it’s great. We reposted it to our Facebook page along with some photos of one of Shane Wallin’s recently finished tattoos on a wonderful woman name Sheri. Two weeks after getting her tattoo finished, she found out her cancer returned after years of being breast cancer free and it is terminal. She told me she was so excited to “bring her sexy back” with her new tattoo and those two weeks were the happiest she has been in years since being diagnosed and her mastectomy. It was both heart warming and breaking all at the same time. Reading your blog and seeing those other images of work that other women have gotten reminded us of Sheri and I just wanted to share the images with you. Sheri asked that we put her photos out there and raise awareness, however we can, so I want to honor her in that.”
Thank you, Sheri and the Twilight Tattoo crew, for the inspiration.
MASTECTOMY SCARS TRANSFORMED ON P.INK DAY:
TCM Issue 4 available now!!
Paul Booth, Miss Arianna, Dong Dong, Tattoo Archive, Tattoo History, Debra Yarian, Sean Herman, Needles and Sins, Pep Williams, Bro Safari, Artist Galleries and more…
By Marisa Kakoulas
Reblogged from: www.needlesandsins.com
In March, we wrote about the Personal Ink Project or P.INK, which is an incredible resource that offers tattoo inspiration, ideas and info for breast cancer survivors. It also is a place where these women can research and perhaps even connect with skilled artists who can transform mastectomy scars into beautiful works of art.
On October 21, 2013, that connection will be made when 10 tattoo artists will tattoo scar-coverage or nipple-replacement tattoos on 10 breast cancer survivors at Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn, NY.
You can help make this event happen by being a part of the crowd-funded project for as little as $10. There are also tons of perks for those who can give more. For $50, there’s digital swag and temp tattoos. For $500, you get an art print of one of the tattoos you helpedg fund.
And the art is guaranteed to be stellar considering the line-up:
- Virginia Elwood from Saved Tattoo
I’ve had the pleasure of working with the P.INK team, in a small way, on this event. P.INK is a “nights-and-weekends passion project” of a handful of employees at the Boulder-based ad agency CP+B who had been affected by cancer. Their goal is to see this project expand, including more P.INK Days should this first event be a success.
Learn more about the project from the video below.
By Nick Baxter
Here’s a recent piece I completed for submission to an upcoming charity art exhibit at The Egan Gallery in Fullerton, California, curated by friend and fellow artist Cody Raiza who is a passionate animal welfare activist.
By Molly Kitamura
Reblogged from: http://knivesandneedlesblog.com/page/2/
Ben is new to the culinary industry and is heavily tattooed! Read his short interview with K&N and see whats cooking today!
M: Write a little about yourself, background, work, currently doing what
By Thomas Morgan
What up y’all, for those who don’t know who I am, my name is Thomas Morgan from HB Tattoo in Southern California. As most of you already know, on November 21st the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum was taken away from all of us, doors locked forbidding access and collection taken hostage! The Amsterdam Tattoo Museum is the first museum that is totally dedicated to tattooing. It shows the world’s largest tattoo collection, collected by Henk (Hanky Panky) Schiffmacher. Fighting tooth and nail along side of Henk is his lovely wife Louise ‘The Queen’ Schiffmacher. In the midst of their year-long battle to save the Museum, Louise recently got news that she has liver cancer and needs a transplant. (Letter from Louise: http://ow.ly/gQj7f.) Now they need our support more than ever. That’s where we come in! We have recently teamed up with an Non-Profit Foundation based here in Huntington Beach, CA called “Fxck Cancer” a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Together, I think all of us in the tattoo community, along with Fxck Cancer can raise the funds needed to help out Louise, Henk and the Foundation… (more…)
By Brandon Collins
It’s fairly common knowledge that being a tattooer isn’t the healthiest of professions. For some of us, our days consist of smoking cigs, drinking, eating and sitting (and sadly more of the latter). Working 10-12 hour days with little to no breaks can do a number on, not only your physique, but your overall health and wellness. Luckily, with some dedication and a few sacrifices… it doesn’t have to be… (more…)