Bored on a Saturday afternoon? Can’t think of anything to do? Want a huge Celtic knot on your back? Here’s a suggestion: Venture to one of D.C.’s safe and reputable tattoo parlors and pick out a clever design or part of your body to pierce. Fatty’s Custom Tattooz, in Dupont Circle, and Jinx Proof, in Georgetown, offer friendly atmospheres and a knowledgeable staff.
Before getting inked or pierced, students should do their homework on a parlor’s sanitation and experience.
“Usually a tattoo place is cleaner than a dentist’s office,” said Danny Shaw, who has tattooed D.C. residents at Fatty’s for about seven months. Shaw said he gives his customers proof of sterilization before using needles. Both Fatty’s, at 1333 Connecticut Ave., and Jinx Proof, at 3289 M St., sterilize needles using steam, pressure and heat in a machine called an autoclave.
“We take it upon ourselves to be as clean as we are,” said Sean McMillam, a piercer for Jinx Proof. Although McMillam said there are no health standards legally placed on tattoo and piercing parlors in D.C., both places take every possible measure to provide a clean and healthy environment for their customers. After getting a piercing or a tattoo, both give their customers detailed instructions on taking care of their new bodily additions.
The next step in getting a piercing or tattoo is settling on a stud or design. According to both Fatty’s and Jinx, all kinds of body piercings are popular today, and Asian and tribal designs are popular choices for a tattoo.
“Just make sure you really want it because it is hard to get taken off,” said McMillam on tattoos. Laser surgery is expensive, so it is advisable to put a lot of thought into a design before making it permanent, he said.
Sophomore Blair Lawhon wishes she had taken that advice. She got her tattoo of a Celtic pentagon, a design that looks similar to a Celtic knot, shortly after turning 18, a move she said she regrets.
“My friends and I thought it would be a bonding experience, but the truth is I wasn’t that excited about it,” Lawhon said. “I wish I didn’t have it.”
According to McMillam, tribal and Asian designs have been popular for a while. At Jinx Proof, $50 is minimum price in getting a tattoo. At Fatty’s, the cost depends on size, color and placement on the body.
“Certain parts of the body are more difficult to tattoo,” Shaw said.
For example, tattoos are more expensive on the stomach than an arm because the surface is harder to work with.
Shaw said people bring in a wide variety of designs. Fatty’s Custom Tattooz specializes in individual designs and can replicate almost any design or drawing that is brought to them.
“Generally we have a tattoo for every walk of life,” said Shaw, adding that his customers include students, business professionals and even an aide to Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).
Sophomore Amy Bucciferro got both of her tattoos at Northwest Tattoo when she was 19. She has an eagle with a banner that reads “Free Spirit” and a flame within a triangle on her back.
“They have personal meaning for me,” Bucciferro said. “They are both about things I discovered about myself over the summer.”
Sophomore Carrie Quinlan got her tattoo the June after her 18th birthday. She got a tattoo of a Celtic knot of eternity from a design that she picked out in Ireland.
“I have family over in Ireland, and I knew I wanted to get a Celtic design,” said Quinlan, whose tattoo also symbolizes love. Quinlan said she decided to get a Henna tattoo before getting a real tattoo to make sure that she was ready to have the design on her back permanently.
During her freshman year at GW, Quinlan got an eyebrow ring when she accompanied her friend to a tattoo parlor in Southeast D.C. But she removed it a couple of months later.
“It just didn’t fit me, and the excitement of having a piercing was over,” she said.
For students not daring enough for a tattoo, a body piercing is a less permanent option for body art.
“We sell the highest grade of jewelry,” Shaw said, explaining that infections are often caused by the poor quality of cheaper jewelry.
Belly button rings are the most difficult piercings to care for, according to McMillam, because the skin is more sensitive than other parts and the area is in constant contact with clothing.
“Don’t touch them,” advises McMillam on the best way to keep a piercing from getting infected.
Both Shaw and McMillam said that at least one genital piercing is performed every day they work.
“Everyone’s into that – (It’s) the new millennium,” Shaw said.