FAQ

Tattoo

Tattoo Appointments and Scheduling


I tattoo by appointment at Art Realm Tattoo, in Austin TX, where I am also a co-owner. (www.artrealmtattoo.com)

Please email me through the contact button on this site to receive information on submitting a request or scheduling your tattoo.

I do not draw tattoo designs unless I will be the one tattooing them, on a client with appointment booked and deposit paid. If you’re in need of a tattoo artist who’s geographically closer to yourself to both draw and do your tattoo, try searching on a database like www.tattoonow.com




Safety Concerns


I strive to maintain levels of cleanliness above and beyond industry standards. I stay updated on the best sanitation practices and preventative measures by taking seminars designed specifically for the tattoo industry. All of my tattoo needles are bought pre-made and sterilized by the manufacturer, and are disposed of in proper sharps containers after single use. My usual tattoo ink is Fusion Ink (www.fusiontattooink.com). A Material Safety Data Sheet is available for download on their website. If you have any other questions about disease prevention and sanitation practices, please feel free to email me or ask during your tattoo appointment.




Tattoo Design Clarity and Size


Less subject matter, at larger sizes, is the general rule for a successful tattoo composition. Success in this particular context means the ability to withstand the aging process by remaining clear, bold, and readable at a distance.

To achieve this, subjects within the overall design must be sized large enough to provide adequate space between details, in order to allow the tattoo to undergo its natural aging process.

As a tattoo ages it blurs out a bit, losing sharpness, and its colors fade a bit, losing contrast. So if it contains elements at too small a size, or too many tightly grouped details, the overall appearance becomes muddy and cluttered looking.

Therefore, to keep a tattoo looking great for the maximum amount of time, the artist’s design challenge is usually to “say more, with less.” Small elements and details must be used strategically.

All tattoos, whether big and bold or with small risky details, will age and deteriorate over time. Repeated exposure to lots of sunlight accelerates this process. The aging effects will simply be more quickly and easily noticeable on any tattoo with a busy design or tiny details. They’ll also be more quickly and easily noticeable on pastel colors than on bold primary colors or dark shades.

Whether you opt for big and bold, or small details and pastel colors, all tattoos can be refreshed and made new again with a re-work session after some time has passed. I attempt to design all of my tattoos to withstand 10-15 years of aging under ideal care conditions. Tattoos that are likely to need this maintenance sooner are any that see a lot of sun exposure, are composed of busy designs full of small elements and tiny details, or that feature lots of light pastel colors.




Trust With Complex, Custom Tattoo Designs


Designing complex, custom, large-scale tattoos presents more artistic variables to contend with than small or simple designs. This increase in complexity often makes it harder to predict how successful each aspect of the design will be on a 3-dimensional body surface. Therefore, what’s often needed is a multi-faceted and fluid design process, where pre-drawn concept sketches are combined with on-skin marker and pen drawing prior to starting actual tattooing.

With this more open-ended approach, the design is allowed to evolve as needed in response to challenges that arise. The artist is freed from the rigidity of a completely pre-drawn stencil to solve these challenges as they occur.

This means that the finished marker drawing on skin may be different than the pre-made sketches. It also means that the client will not be able to see an exact finished version of the tattoo on paper before starting, which requires more trust from the client, and more communication from the artist about what they intend the finished result to look like.

Even still, the client may form a different mental image of the finished result than the artist has tried to describe from their own imagination. This is just one of the accepted risks of most complex, custom tattoo projects, and should be understood by any client embarking on this type of work.

So in contrast to a complex custom tattoo presenting many artistic variables, a small and simple request placed on an area of clear skin presents almost zero variables or unforeseen design challenges, can be pre-drawn with an exact stencil, and thus involves very low risk and uncertainty. Ultimately, the client must decide how much risk or uncertainty they’re comfortable with and tailor their tattoo request accordingly. Likewise, a knowledgeable tattooer should be able to communicate to the client up front how much risk, trust, artistic freedom, or complexity is involved in any request.




Tattoo Healing/Aftercare


Method 1: Ointment

Remove the bandage after 3-12 hours. For example, if you get tattooed early in the day, leave the bandage on until the evening, but if you get tattooed at night and go to bed soon after, it's ok to leave the initial bandage on until the morning. Either way, don’t remove the bandage until you can properly clean the tattoo with mild soap and warm water. Rinse it well, gently rubbing off the slimy coating that may have formed over the tattooed area while underneath the bandage. Gently pat it dry with a clean cloth or paper towel, then allow it to air dry for 15 minutes before applying ointment.

Apply a tattoo healing product like Vitalitree to the tattoo as needed, massaging a very small amount into the skin to keep the tattoo slightly moisturized, but NOT smothered. Use just enough ointment to give the tattoo a barely noticeable, slight shine, and blot off any excess. For the first day or two, your tattoo may require more cleaning or blotting, as the traumatized skin may still be seeping a small amount of plasma. The proper minimal amount of ointment, along with daily cleaning, will prevent this small amount of plasma from forming into a thicker scab that could pull out color or cause cracking.

The healing tattoo should never stay submerged in water. Therefore, limit yourself to only short showers until the tattoo has finished peeling. It’s also important that a fresh tattoo be protected from the sun and dirty environments (gyms, pet dander or saliva, etc.) with clothing or by simply avoiding certain activities, as it’s still an open wound for 3-5 days until the skin has peeled. All normal activities involving water, sun exposure, or dirty environments can usually be resumed after one week.

Only apply ointment for as long as it takes for your tattoo to peel, usually 3-5 days. When the peeling begins, the outermost layer of tattooed skin will flake like a sunburn. At all costs avoid picking at the cracked and flaking skin. When the tattoo has fully entered the peeling phase you should not apply any more ointment. The area will become dry and itchy, and a good quality, fragrance-free lotion can now be used until the skin returns to its normal texture.

Troubleshooting:

If bubbles form on the surface of the fresh tattoo, stop applying ointment, letting it dry and peel on its own. This bubbling is caused by moisture getting trapped in your tattoo, usually from soaking or too much ointment, and could lead to scabbing. If scabs develop, they can remove the color beneath them if prematurely removed. It’s important that they’re allowed to dry out completely, and not get waterlogged at any time. The scab will eventually fall off on its own, and the tattoo should be fine if no deep cracks have formed.

Method 2: Plastic Wrap

This is the less conventional method, and tends to work well for larger tattoos, as well as tattoos in awkward areas that will be covered with clothing, as this can cause irritation. If you find that your tattoos have healed poorly in the past, this method may be an effective alternative.

Remove your bandage after 3-12 hours, and clean it with mild soap and warm water as in Method 1. After washing, gently pat it dry with a clean cloth or paper towel, then allow it to air dry for 15 minutes. When the tattoo is dry to the touch, cover it completely with a new piece of plastic wrap, using small pieces of tape as needed to hold it in place. Do not use any healing ointment or moisturizer, only plastic wrap over your cleaned and dried skin.

With this method, the tattoo is kept completely covered with plastic wrap 24 hours a day, for as long as it takes to peel—usually 3 to 5 days. It’s important to discard the wrapping and wash the tattoo every 4-6 hours or after any period of sweating, letting it completely air-dry afterwards, and applying a new piece of plastic wrap each time. It’s also important not to over-wrap the area, unnecessarily covering untattooed skin, which can trap excess moisture and body heat. The same precautions as Method 1 regarding water and sunlight apply to this method as well.

When the peeling begins after 3-5 days, the tattooed skin will flake like a sunburn. At all costs avoid picking at the cracked and flaking skin. When the tattoo has fully entered the peeling phase, discontinue the plastic wrap. The area will become dry and itchy, and a good quality, fragrance-free lotion can now be used until the skin returns to its normal texture.

Troubleshooting:

As mentioned before, moisture can be very detrimental to the healing process. Too much plastic wrap on the surrounding untattooed skin—or not changing the wrap often enough—can lead to development of a moisture rash. This will appear as bright red irritation with tiny pimples around the effected area, and will likely feel painful and itchy. If this happens, do not re-wrap the tattoo or try to medicate it. Instead, let it dry completely and peel on its own. Apply lotion to the area once irritation has diminished.

A combination of methods 1 and 2 is NOT recommended. Please only use one method or the other.
Remember that until your new tattoo peels, it’s an open wound, and needs to be treated as one. Give your tattoo the time and attention it needs to properly heal. Engaging in actions such as swimming, tanning, removing the bandage early, and general disregard for it, are done at your own risk. If you suspect an infection has developed, please seek medical attention immediately, as untreated tattoo infections can have very serious health consequences.

Method 3: Saniderm/Tegaderm

Clean and dry the new tattoo and surrounding skin, and do not apply any lotions or ointments. Before starting the Saniderm process, make sure the entire area has been shaved, plus an additional inch all the way around the site of the tattoo, as this will help with bandage adhesion and removal.

Cut the Saniderm tattoo aftercare bandage to allow at least 1 inch of the bandage to be in contact with undamaged skin around the tattooed area. More room is suggested in highly mobile areas.

Practice before you apply. If it's your first time using Saniderm, it may be a little tricky to work with. It doesn't hurt to practice with a small section first–just make sure you shave the area.

To use the bandage, first peel off the paper backing to reveal the adhesive side. Gently apply the bandage adhesive side down, using light pressure. The bandage should lay smooth across the skin, with minimal air bubbles. For best results, ensure that the skin is in a neutral position–not overly stretched out or overly wrinkled.

Once it’s fully adhered to the tattooed area and surrounding skin, remove the clear plastic backing by looking for the printed arrows or seams, leaving only the Saniderm/Tegaderm layer on the skin. It's okay when using multiple bandages on large tattoos, to overlap them by 1/2 inch (1 cm). Ensure the bandage is sealed to the skin all the way around the tattoo.

If the bandage is completely sealed all the way around the tattoo, it is considered waterproof and activities like swimming or bathing will not affect the tattoo. However, as with all fresh tattoos it is still an open wound that needs to be protected, so all activities are done at your own risk.

Wear the first bandage for 12-48 hours, depending on how much the tattoo weeps or how well it remains sealed to the skin. If a lot of plasma and blood collects inside the sealed bandage or it starts to peel off, it’s necessary to remove it, clean and dry the tattoo, and reapply a new bandage sooner than if there is very little fluid in the bandage.

Leaving the bandage on for too long can result in infection, so always change your bandage within the stated timeframe. Most tattoos can be properly healed with 2 applications of the bandage, with each application being left on the skin for 1-2 days, for a 3 or 4 day total.

To remove the Saniderm, carefully peel up from one corner, slowly massaging the adhesive bandage off of the skin. This step may be uncomfortable, as the bandage may pull the tattooed skin upwards as it’s removed, but careful removal can minimize the discomfort. Removal under warm soapy water, such as in the shower, can also help minimize discomfort.

After you remove the first Saniderm bandage (12-48 hours), clean and dry the area, and apply a second bandage. If using a glycerin based soap, be sure to rinse thoroughly, as any residue will react with the adhesives and can cause binding and irritation. Avoid loofahs or scratchy wash cloths.

Bandages applied after the first one can be worn longer if needed, since the tattoo has usually stopped oozing after the first 48 hours, but in general it’s best to change the bandage once every two days.

Troubleshooting:

Problems with this healing method are very similar to those that can occur in Method Two. If the tattoo becomes exceptionally painful, with irritated skin around it or a foul odor, immediately remove the bandage and discontinue use. If pain or odor continues to increase, the tattoo may be infected, and medical attention should be sought immediately.




Strategy For Extended Tattoo Sittings


Fresh tattoos are an open wound and getting them puts stress on the immune system. A stressed immune system has a decreased ability to fight off sickness or infection. Therefore, it’s important to care for one’s health in the weeks or days leading up to a long or intense sitting by eating nutritious foods, getting adequate sleep, and avoiding unnecessary traumas to the body.

Self-care is also important during the day of the tattoo session. Eating a large and balanced meal beforehand provides the body with nutrients to sustain energy and pain tolerance. It also maintains adequate blood sugar levels, which helps the body withstand the adrenalin rush that often comes at the beginning of a tattoo session. Without this boost, that adrenalin rush leads to a higher likelihood of getting light-headed, sick, and/or passing out. Bringing some food and drink to snack on later in the day, when energy and tolerance levels drop, can also make a long tattoo session easier.

Taking ibuprofen (non-aspirin) pain relievers before and during the sitting can help relieve soreness and swelling. While not eliminating pain completely, this may have enough of an effect to increase one’s endurance.

Topical pain-relieving products such as the brand BACTINE can also provide some relief during the later stages of a tattoo session, when large areas of skin are open, raw, and sore. These products are available at any well-stocked pharmacy or supermarket, with or near the other pain relievers. They contain a mild numbing agent, which can be effective for 20-30 minutes at a time on already broken skin. Most tattooers are happy to use this at the end of a long session if it’s been requested and supplied by the client.

Books, or videos and music from a tablet or phone can all provide some distraction from the discomfort of a long tattoo session. However, the age-old practice of meditation, relaxation breathing, or 'mind over matter' techniques is nearly foolproof, and ultimately provides the most lasting, simple, and effective way to overcome temporary discomfort.

Finally, healing a very large tattoo from a long session can be more intensive than a small area that’s undergone less trauma. So while it’s wise to implement a self-care regimen before and during the tattoo session, doing so afterwards is just as crucial. This helps the body thoroughly recover from the event, resulting in a better-looking tattoo. In extreme cases, Ibuprofen can be continued until swelling and soreness diminish, in addition to icing and elevation of the affected limb.




Using Meditation To Relieve Discomfort


First, it’s important to change the mental focus of a tattoo experience from a negative concept of pain, which tends to carry a story of suffering, to a neutral concept of sensation, which tends to carry only observations. This simple shift in thinking can be incredibly effective in changing a mood of tension and nervousness into calm acceptance, or even curiosity. This is because a typical response to pain is the instinct to run away from it, or to push and fight against it mentally. In contrast, a typical response to merely observing new sensations is a feeling of openness and discovery. Once the decision to get a tattoo has been made, it’s simply a waste of energy trying to block out something inevitable and unavoidable, like physical discomfort. A more effective response instead, is a shift in attitude towards neutral acceptance.

The term acceptance refers to being willing to accept any physical sensations into the body, and then letting the experience pass through the mind as a momentary phenomenon. In doing this over and over again, any moments of discomfort remain temporary, which is their true nature. In this way they’re merely moving past, while the mind rests on a solid ground of peaceful, non-attached observation.

The simplest way to reach this relaxed state is to focus all thought upon one’s breathing, literally one single breath at a time, if needed. The brief pauses in the tattoo process, when the tattooer is dipping into their ink caps or cleaning their needle tips, provide frequent opportunities for taking a deep breath, releasing tension, and resetting one’s mental focus.

Imagine as you exhale air, that you’re releasing the uncomfortable sensation felt in that moment. Over and over again, in each passing moment, this technique can help remind you of your own strength and endurance.

Another factor one can experiment with is the frequency of tattoo sessions. Some people discover that making appointments at shorter, regular intervals helps them maintain their focus and motivation, whereas other people prefer a longer period of time between particularly grueling sessions, in order to regain the necessary willpower and stamina to continue with the project. Regardless of preference, working with the tattooer’s preferred scheduling frequency is often beneficial to the final outcome of the tattoo.

No matter which coping strategy is used, the most important thing to remember is that getting tattooed is almost all mental. One’s attitude and thoughts go a surprisingly long way in determining the level of enjoyment in the experience. While a tattooer can do certain things to attempt to minimize the dscomfort their process causes, it’s up to the individual being tattooed to choose the most effective thoughts and behaviors to manage any discomfort or unpleasantness that arises. Beautiful body art and a sense of accomplishment are the lasting rewards for doing so.




Travel Announcements


Travel Announcements

Any travel appearances, guest spots, or conventions I'm attending are announced in advance on my social media (Instagram: @burningxhope) and through my email newsletter, which you can sign up for under the Contact header of this site.

If an event isn't announced via social media or newsletter, it means I'm either not attending, or am already fully booked.




Using images of My Tattoos and Artwork


All of the tattoos you see on this website are one of a kind, custom pieces designed only for the person who received the original tattoo from me. They are posted to advertise my tattooing style and artistic capabilities to the public. Additionally they are offered as inspiration for other artists, tattoo collectors, or anyone who simply appreciates body art, but they are not meant to be replicated. Please respect the original wearer of the tattoo by not having another tattoo artist copy it exactly. Use them for inspiration and ideas only. This same concept applies to the other artwork on the website as well. It’s all property of either myself or the client/collector. Please do not reproduce any of these images without permission. Thank you.





Fine Art

Original Artwork Sales


Please contact me to inquire about purchasing any of the fine art originals listed as Available in my galleries, or to inquire about commissioning a new piece of art.

Any art listed as Private Collection has already been sold and is not available.

When available, limited edition prints or other products can be found in the website store.




Commissions


I enjoy fine art commissions of all kinds when time permits. Please contact me to inquire about pricing and availability, or to discuss your idea. nickbaxterart@gmail.com




Using images of My Artwork


All paintings and other fine art shown on this site is property of either myself and/or the collector, unless specifically stated otherwise. Please do not reproduce any of these images without permission. Thank you.





Education

Tattoo Education


All pre-recorded or written tattoo educational products I’m currently offering are featured in the website store.

I am available for seminar and workshop booking at tattoo conventions and conferences, where I can speak or present on a number of technical tattooing topics, including my comprehensive seminar on tattoo strategy, “The Holistic Approach.” Please contact me to discuss teaching at your event.




Fine Art Education


All pre-recorded or written fine art educational products I’m currently offering are featured in the website store.

I am available for seminar and workshop booking, where I can speak or present on a number of technical oil painting topics, or host paint-along workshops in the disciplines of classical still life painting, landscape painting, or life drawing. Please contact me to discuss teaching at your event or location, or to you or your group.