Monday, June 1, 2020

From idea to skin: The process of getting a tattoo

madness ink chatham tattoo sydenham current

Neil Malcolm and Keith Smith of Madness Ink in Chatham have many years of experience with giving tattoos.

We asked them to explain the process, from start to finish, from idea to skin.

SC: Take us through the process of getting a tattoo… where do you begin?

Neil: A reason for getting a tattoo is definitely number one.

Let’s create a scenario… say someones father has died, and they want to commemorate them in a tattoo. You want to talk to the artist, you don’t want to tell them this is exactly what I want… you want to throw some ideas at them. What do you think? Is this going to work? Do you have any ideas for me because I want a really nice tattoo. Talk to the artist.

If they want something for their dad, we might talk about what their dad liked to do, what is something that reminds you of them, that sort of thing. At that point we can get an idea about the relationship between them. Is it something kind of dramatic and serious… in that sense you’d probably want to go black and grey. When you get into colour, it can be a little more animated, a little more in your face, or fun.

At that point, you’ll want to book your tattoo. We normally run a week or two weeks ahead. We tattoo quite a bit, we can do anywhere between three and eight every single day. We like to stay busy.

Say we book a tattoo two weeks ahead. That is our job to get this together and create an original piece for that person. Really try to hit on those things that hit home for those people who are getting the tattoo.

At that point we show them their design. If there is something they don’t like about it, we can change it up for them, we can talk about size.

If it’s a first tattoo as well, there are a few things to consider, you don’t really want to go right onto your forearms right away, you don’t want to get a huge tattoo. You don’t always know what to expect. Keep it somewhere that can be hidden at first. You might not like it at all, somewhere that is going to be discrete to start with. You can always get bigger ones, you can always get more. You’ve got your whole life essentially.

Another tip for someone that is getting tattooed for the first time. Make sure you’ve eaten a good meal before. Even though you are just sitting there, it requires a lot of energy to get tattooed. There is a lot of adrenaline and anxiety going on there.

When you’re getting tattooed… just relax. That’s the biggest thing and the only job you have is to just relax, put yourself somewhere else and just act like it’s not happening and let us do our thing.

SC: How long does it take to actually complete the tattoo?

Keith: If you come in here and want a full sleeve, don’t expect it to take even two sits.

If there is detail in that thing and there is massive saturation, you could have six, 12, 15 sits. We can’t tell you ahead of time exactly how long it is going to take us. We can tell you how much per sit it is going to be and you’re going to come in here and get it worked on as you can.

We do our best to get everything done in one sit if it’s reasonable… but we’ll tell you right up front when you come in and talk to us the first time if it’s going to be more than one sit, we’ll tell you right off the bat.

SC: What about the healing process? How can people keep their tattoos looking the best?

Keith: When we’re done with our tattoos we wrap them with Glad wrap, it creates a barrier of your fresh wound of a tattoo and the outside. It’s going to help keep those fluids coming out, which is your body trying to heal your skin, it will keep them against your skin for a little while. That will actually help promote the longevity of the tattoo.

You leave that on for three to five hours. When you take it off, lather your hand with an unscented soap, wash that area very well. I usually tell my clients to wash it twice. You’re going to feel that slimy residue, that is what your washing off. Once it’s all cleaned and washed off nicely, pat it dry with a towel.

Then personally we have one specific type of ointment that we use made by Eucerin called Aquaphor Healing Ointment. It’s available at any pharmacy, right down the lotion aisle. That only needs to be put on twice a day, once in the morning, once in the evening, or anytime after you shower. It works very well, it keeps the skin very moist. You do that for about 10 days, and you’re ready to rock, the tattoo is fully healed and no issues whatsoever.

Here at this shop, we do offer a free touch up after the tattoo is done. It does have a one year shelf life. If you don’t come in through that year, you’re paying to get it touched up.

Madness Ink is located at 225 St. Clair Street in Chatham. To book an appointment, you can call Keith at 519-358-5377 or Neil at 519-437-2389.

This article is sponsored content and is a part of our Keep It Local Business Spotlight feature. Contact Dana Haggith for more information – 519-784-4610 or

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