Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tattoos Are Made From... Bones and Animal Fat? Oh, Ew.

Oh my, do I love tattoos. I adore seeing beautifully artistic tattoos on strangers' forearms and admiring them like some women admire babies. It also makes me wish I was a little more proficient at drawing, because stick figures aren't really considered "art" these days.

I would love to have half-sleeves without regret, but I'm taking my time and making careful decisions. Of course while looking into tattoos and inks, I discovered some interesting information about "Bone Black", the most commonly used tattoo ink.

Bone Black is a black pigment, called such because it is made from burning animal bones into charcoal, which is then turned into tattoo ink by adding a carrier solution (made with glycerin, which can be made from vegetable sources but is usually made from animal fats). Oh god, gross. Cannot have that on my body, never. I think this is one of those things that no one really talks about, but really, we should. Tattoos are awesome, but to have my skin full of burned bones and animal fat... no, no thank you.

So what are some options to consider when you finally are ready to get that tattoo but you don't want permanent remnants of dead animals in your skin?
  • Talk to your tattoo artist. Ask them what kind of inks and carrier solutions they use in their shop. Do they mix their own? Or do they buy it pre-mixed? If they don't want to talk to you about what inks they use, chances are they are not the right artist for you.
  • Ask your tattoo artist to use vegan (animal-free) inks and glycerin made from vegetable sources for your tattoo. You may need to add a little more money to your cost to cover the expense of ordering the items if they don't have them already.
  • Find a vegan tattoo artist. Vegans do not eat or consume any product or by-product of animals, so you can be sure that they will be knowledgeable about inks and carrier solutions.
  • If you can't locate a vegan tattoo artist, find a vegan tattoo parlor. They'll only use inks that do not have any animal products and will also have aftercare products that are vegan. They can recommend an artist to you that would best suit your needs. 

You can find your nearest vegan or vegan-friendly tattoo parlor here:

By the way, all of the above photos were done in vegan ink by the incredibly talented tattoo artist Ryan Mason. He works at Scapegoat Tattoo, vegan tattoo parlor in Portland, Oregon.

Do you have a vegan tattoo? Do you know of a vegan or vegan-friendly tattoo parlor that isn't listed here? Do you have any tattoo tips to share? Please leave a comment! :-)

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