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Mastering the Art of Coordinating Tattoos and Piercings

Updated: Mar 18

Piercings and tattoos are a common sight in society. It has gained popularity over the years and has shed off any negative attributes that have been previously attached to it.

While getting one or two modifications done is quite alright, many like to take their adoration for the art forms to a higher level and get several pieces done.

In this article, we explore the history of certain body modifications, the reasons behind getting them, and everything you need to know before booking your next appointment.

The reasons why people get piercings and tattoos

The reasons why people decide to permanently adorn their bodies with art are endless. The same goes for piercings, and the truth is, almost all reasons for getting modifications done are valid - as long as it is your conscious intention to have it done.

When it comes to tattoos, in particular, people get them as a means of obtaining strength through what their tattoo choices represent, other times it can be a sense of motivation, or it can be an image that they identify with and like.

On the other hand with piercings, more often than not it is for aesthetic reasons, but we have seen a resurgence in cultural practices taking the spotlight. People are rekindling their interest in their roots and are picking up practices that have fallen through the cracks of history.

Historical and cultural significance of tattoos and piercings

Both tattoos and piercings have great cultural significance. Almost all cultures across the world have modification practices in their history. In the West, up until recently, piercings were attributed to rebelliousness due to Hippie and Punk movements that were popular in the 70s.

Each piercing that we see has different meanings attached to it and has been independently practiced in different cultures for different reasons.

The earliest reasons for ear piercings, were for magical reasons to protect from demons. Sailors also wore singular gold loops on their ears, in the event they died in a foreign land, the gold could be a means of payment for their funerals. For many societies, it was used as a coming-of-age practice.

Another example is the dangly belly button piercing. In current times are worn for fashionable reasons, while in ancient Eygpyt it was commonly worn by Pharaohs only.

Nostril piercings were worn in Asian demographics by women for fertility purposes, while other cultures in Africa and Central America wore septum piercings to show their status as warriors.

Earlobe stretching has been practiced in many cultures, however, it was not only earlobes that were stretched, but the labret and septum as well.

The same can be said for tattoos. Some used the process of scarification to obtain the results. The art of hand poke tattoos has gained popularity and was performed by other cultures as well.

Symbolism is also a large part of tattoos, cultures use them to ward off evil, to show ranks, or as part of religious practices.

Tattoo styles

Tattoo styles are extensive there are so many different options that you can choose from, Below we highlight a few of the popular styles commonly seen in current times:

  • Traditional: Popularized in America, it features bold colors and ticker outlines, common imagery is pin-ups, roses, and anchors.

  • Japanese: Known as Irezumi features bright and bold colors as well. It often features imagery from Japanese folklore like dragons.

  • Tribal: Inspired by Maori and Polynesian styles of tattoos that were found on the people of those demographics.

  • Black and Grey: This is a wider umbrella term featuring tattoos that feature only black and grey ink in the design.

  • Chicano: This is popularized by the Mexican demographic.

  • Realism: Usually performed in black and grey. This style of tattoo can look distinctly like real objects or people. It is almost three-dimensional in a sense

  • Modern: Watercolour is a common modern-day tattoo style, it looks like artwork that has been performed using watercolour paint

Tattoo placements

If you are going for multiple tattoos, or start a project that you plan on adding to as time goes on, you need to consider the cohesiveness of your placements, as well as their style so that each design flows well into the next.

It is important to remember that tattoo placements are mainly dependent on the person getting the tattoo. It is entirely up to them to place their choices wherever they want to.

Sleeves are the most common area of the body where you see combinations of different pieces that in the end can look entirely mismatched or it can look like a fluid design.

Chest placements are common for one bigger piece with an add-on that flows up into the collar bones and onto the neck or below into the abdomen region.

When you are making your appointment, speak to your tattoo artist they will give you more insight into the placements and style for a better look.

Piercings and their placements

Piercings unlike tattoos are a semi-permanent form of body modification, mainly given the fact that they can be removed and more often than not the piercings can heal.

Almost any area of the body can be pierced. The ears are the most common area to get pierced. The cartilage, the fleshy lobe, and the shell of the ear are all fair game when it comes to getting pierced. Getting numerous piercings on the ear is aesthetically pleasing to look at, especially if they pair it up with matching earrings.

The nose is the second most common area to be pierced. You often see people with either or both nostrils pierced for a symmetrical look, with an addition of a septum. A little more adventurous people get the bridge of their nose pierced.

Other facial piercings include getting the eyebrows, areas around the lips, and the inside of the mouth pierced - notably the tongue and frenulum. It is not uncommon to see dimple piercings as well.

Other areas of the body include nipples, belly buttons, and genitalia. Dermal piercings, also called surface piercings, are piercings that have no exit point and sit below the skin surface.

Why research is important

Research about piercings and tattoos is extremely important. Having the right education on what you want to be done is vital, so you will know exactly what to expect and how to identify when something is wrong - this is for your health and welfare above all else. Look up aspects like pain levels, healing times, and other people’s experiences of getting similar procedures done.

Researching the design you want tattooed is also important, as certain imagery related to cultures out of your own can be regarded as offensive or ignorant. You need a full understanding of the imagery and its meanings before you decide on permanently inking them on your body.

For example, dreamcatchers and evil eye tattoos will fall under both offensive and ignorant given the context of their real-life purposes in the cultures they are from. Religious symbolism from cultures that are not your own may be deemed offensive, while designs of words in different languages that you don’t understand will be considered ignorant.

Choosing your practitioners

An important aspect of having a procedure done is making sure that you have the right practitioner. These practitioners will be altering your body, so you need to ensure that they are trained in their respective craft, and someone who knows their way around anatomy. Look up their studios and their reviews to gain insight into how they run their studios.

You also need to feel comfortable with your practitioner, they will give you sound advice and help you through the entire process and making sure that you are happy with your results. Never be afraid to voice your concerns and ask questions to the practitioner working on you.

Healing and aftercare

Each different piece needs specific care for it to heal properly. With tattoos, you need to be prepared for scaring and peeling to occur. It will also be itchy, but resist the urge to scratch it. Your artists will provide you with instructions on how to wash and moisturize your fresh ink, and what concerning signs to look out for.

Piercings all take different times to heal. It is all dependent on the area that you have pierced. Earlobes take a shorter amount of time as opposed to upper ear cartilage, the range is between two and six months for the initial healing period where the jewelry can be changed.

It is important to note that you shouldn't get several piercings done at once, as it can affect the healing process and infection can settle in.

Wrapping up

Getting tattoos and piercings are very personal decisions for people - it can be either cultural or aesthetic reasons, it doesn’t matter as long as a lot of thought and care goes into the process.

There are a lot of ways you can plan out your tattoos and piercings so that they look cohesive and aesthetically pleasing. This can be achieved by following the art styles and color schemes of your preceding tattoos, in the case of earrings, by using matching styles of earrings.

Don’t be scared to research the modification that you want to be done thoroughly before making an appointment.


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