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Rotary vs. Coil Machines


Rotary vs. Coils


The first thing you might hear upon entering a tattoo studio is the sound of buzzing machines. Before I knew more about the tattooing industry, I assumed that all tattoo machines make this stereotypical noise but in fact there’s only one type of machine that does this, and that’s a coil machine.


Coils are the most popular type of tattooing machine but the rotary comes in at a close second.  In this article we’ll compare the two machines and see which one is better for certain types of tattooing, how they differ structurally, and how each one feels when receiving a tattoo. You might be surprised at the different methods and ways of design; I know I was!





Coils are the more popular type of tattooing machine but are the most complicated. They’re the ones that make the buzzing sound and how they do this involves moving parts and an electromagnetic field to move the needles up and down.


Made up from an assembly of parts, coils need to be well understood before used as a slight miscalculation can lead to tattoos that are done inappropriately.


To put it simply, coil machines are made up of a metal frame, the coils themselves, an armature bar, and of course, the needles. They are highly customizable and can be crafted to suit the artist’s needs.



They usually hold one to two metal coils that have copper wire wrapped around an inner iron core. This is how electricity flows through the machine and provides power to move the needles. This also makes them heavier and more strenuous to hold for long periods of time.


The electricity creates a magnetic field that briefly connects an armature bar with the tops of the coils. This process is repeated over and over in very quick succession which moves the needles up and down and creates the classic buzzing noise that we’re all familiar with.


Coils also tend to use less voltage than rotaries, depending on each individual machine. 


In short, coils are:

Easy to regulate speed and power



More popular

More complicated (learning curve)





Rotaries have a far simpler design and are more like a mechanized pen. With a simple DC motor that moves the needle set up and down, there’s no need for any additional parts which makes them less complicated and easier to use than their coil counterparts.


This lack of additional parts makes them much lighter than coils which makes them easier to handle for longer projects that go on for hours at a time.


This obviously makes rotaries far less customizable as you can’t interchange parts, but you can use rotary machines for both lining and shading which makes them more efficient. More voltage is used in rotary machines compared to coils as well.



In short, rotary machines are:


Easier learning curve

Low noise output

One machine can be used for lining/shading

Minimal adjustments needed





While the end result is the same, a beautiful tattoo, the method of producing that design in your skin will differ depending on which machine your artist chooses to use. There are significant advantages and disadvantages to both, and each require a certain level of skill to be handled appropriately and effectively. For your next tattoo, ask your artist which they prefer and why; you might discover something new and expand your knowledge of tattoo equipment!




1. Unlisted. “Rotary Tattoo Machine vs Coil.” Oct 31, 2012.


2. Madeira, Christopher. “Differences Between Rotary and Coil Tattoo Machines.” Nov. 16, 2016.


3. Laura. “Coil vs. Rotary Tattoo Machines.” Oct. 6, 2014.


4. Moktadier, Aisha. "9 Places To Get A Tattoo If You're A Baby When It Comes To Pain." (Photo)


5. Dragonhawk. "How to set the speed of tattoo machines." March 7, 2017.


6. Carroll, Jen. "Why Get A Tatoo?" March 19, 2012.


7. Corsetti, Caitlin. "Before you get a tattoo, consider these things."


8. Burns, Julie. "Dealing with Shading and Outlining in Tattoo Pain." Jan. 2, 2019.

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Ancient Egyptian Tattoos


Ancient Egyptian Tattoos


The practice of inserting ink under the skin to create a design has been around for thousands of years. Nearly every culture has examples of this type of body modification, suggesting that the art is universally applied but with different meanings behind each one.

The tattoos of ancient Egypt are particularly fascinating. This article will outline who received them, how it was done, and what the designs meant.


Tattoos in ancient Egypt date back to the Pre-Dynastic Period (6000 - 3100 BCE), over 5,000 years ago. This is possible to determine because in 1990 several mummies were discovered in the Gebelein region of Egypt - the majority of which had tattoos.


Before these remains were found, it was thought by scholars and archeologists that only Egyptian women wore body art. However, this find suggests that both men and women underwent the procedure, and the ink still visible on their preserved skin shows the earliest examples of figurative designs.



The men bore markings of beasts, with one man bearing the image of a Barbary sheep on his shoulder; this suggested he was a hunter. Barbary sheep were akin to mountain goats, very nimble and quick, and hunting them took great skill and prowess. Having a tattoo of one represented the individual's mastery of the sport and displaying it on such a visible area suggested that he wanted it to be seen and appreciated.

The image of a bull was also visible. This animal was seen as a symbol of power, showing that the motives for getting inked were not that dissimilar from modern day tattoo enthusiasts.

Social Classes

Many different social classes chose to wear tattoos in ancient Egypt, and it was especially common with priestesses and holy women. This is possibly the reason for why scientists thought it was only females who were tattooed, even though men also partook in the practice.

Priestesses who worshipped Hathor, goddess of fertility, were tattooed to represent themselves as such. These spiritual symbols were referred to as 'nefers,' signs of beauty and goodness, and often included images of the eye of Ra and the eye of Horus.


The priestess Amunet from the 11th Dynasty was discovered with these markings in 1891. Abstract lines were found on her arms, thighs, and abdomen which scholars and historians supposed were fertility symbols. In their culture, magic was synonymous with medicine and symbols of this sort were used for reasons other than decoration. This suggestion was emphasized by other female mummies found in the same area bearing the same kind of designs.
However, tattoos of Bes were worn by many different classes of people, including the famous dancer Isadora. Isadora of Artemisia bore the image of Bes on her upper thigh. She had no children and was not a prostitute. This may be another reason why it was assumed that only women wore body art.


Tattoos as Protection

For females, patterns of lines and dots were tattooed across the abdomen and connected around the lower back. This was done to protect against the risks of childbirth and sexually transmitted diseases. When the woman became pregnant and her belly swelled, the pattern would create a net and add symbolic protection to the unborn child.

Bes, the dwarf god of sexuality, fertility, childhood, and childbirth, was a figure often seen in ancient Egyptian tattoos. Women chose to put his image on their bodies to protect their unborn children, to aid in childbirth, and to improve their fertility and libidos. The tops of the thighs were common areas for his likeness to be tattooed on, as it was said he could easily oversee birthings from there.


Spirituality symbols were popular as well. The images of lotus blossoms in bloom were often seen on temple floors. Women would mirror this sacred symbol on their bodies, with the legs and hips being common areas.

Prostitutes would wear tattoos based off of images from the Turin Erotic Papyrus, a document that dates back to the New Kingdom, the Ramesside Period (1186-1077 BCE). Interpretations of the images suggest they depict a brothel, or represent the sexual practices of the gods.


The colors used for these tattoos were dark pigments of black, blue, and green. These hues carried important significance and represented life, birth, resurrection, the heavens, and fertility. It was often older female seers who practiced the art on others. This was done to offer protection to the individual through the symbols tattooed into their skin.


The practice of tattooing in ancient Egypt was primarily done for spiritual protection, both for the wearer and any unborn children. Therefore many women wore these designs although the practice wasn't exclusive to females. Many men wore tattoos to display feats of strength or power, not dissimilar from modern day tattooing.






Mark, J. Joshua. "Tattoos in Ancient Egypt." Jan 9, 2017.


Darnell, Colleen and Darnell, John. "Decoding the Tattoos of Ancient Egyptians." March 9, 2018.


Weisberger, Mindy. "Egyptian Mummy's Symbolic Tattoos Are 1st of Their Kind." May 9, 2016.


Austin, Anne. "Tattooing in Ancient Egypt." University of Missouri, St. Louis. 2019.


Gibbens, Sarah. "Earliest Ancient Egyptian Tattoos Found on Mummies." National March 1, 2018.


Kennedy, Merrit. "Some of the Oldest Ever Tattoos Found on Egyptian Mummies." March 2, 2018.


Starr, Michelle. "World's Oldest Figural Tattoos Were Just Found on 5,000 Year Old Egyptian Mummies." March 2, 2018.

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New School Style

New School Style


New School is one of the newer styles of tattooing, and a very experimental one at that. It draws close parallels with American Traditional, with its roots stretching back to the 70s, but the early 90s was where this unique style took hold.

New School is highly influenced by pop culture, including video games, comic books, TV shows, Disney films, anime, graffiti, and celebrities. From subject matter to the colors used, this article will cover the main design aspects of New School tattooing and what makes it stand out from other popular styles.



You may have seen examples of New School tattoos around your area; perhaps a brightly colored animal or cartoonish horror film character. This style is known for its depiction of dramatic cartoonish figures and vivid colors.
Animals are hugely popular within this genre, and it's easy to see why - when translated into New School tattoos, the options are literally endless.


It's quite common to see a New School tattoo of a cute critter with large eyes and a disproportionately small body. These exaggerated ratios are common and are utilized to create a dramatic representation of the subject.
Themes from the style of American Traditional are still used such as nautical creatures like sharks and mermaids, as well as birds like the traditional swallow, but New School encourages experimentation. Any animal is fair game, and personal customization ensures that the tattoo you're getting will be one-of-a kind.


With the explosion of the internet in the early 90s, characters from pop culture became extremely common in tattoos, especially ones from the Disney animated franchise. Princesses, cartoon animals, and villains were prime choices, often expressed as caricatures to further exaggerate their features.



As well, shows that were previously unavailable to the Western world were making an appearance. Pokémon, Sailor Moon, and other anime were thrust into the forefront of tattooing in America and became important symbols of this style.


New School script is usually done in some type of bubble font with a 3D effect. This is to amplify the roundness and cartoonish appearance of the tattoo, and to make it pop. This typography is closely related to street art and graffiti. Using various lining techniques, script is transformed into a work of art all its own, with highly dramatized and exaggerated line forms.

New School became a way for people to show their interests in a way that had never been done before. Characters from beloved movies, books, etc., could become amazing works of art for their bodies, carrying on the popularity of this style to this day.


Bright, vivid color is the hallmark for New School designs. Gone are the days where only a few limited colors were available; now, an entire spectrum of ink is accessible for use, allowing for experimentation in color, shading, and gradient creation. You want a neon pink version of your favorite dog? You got it. How about a banana yellow owl with a thick cyan outline? Say no more, fam. No hue is too extreme for this unique style, and that's part of what makes New School so appealing.


Bold, black lines are used to contain the color, much like the outlines of American Traditional designs. However with New School, varying line widths are used to create a more dynamic piece. The colors of outlines may stray from the norm as well with blues, purples, oranges, and bright greens being popular alternative choices.


The sheer amount of customization makes it easy for New School artists to create both masculine and feminine designs. Color, shading, and subject matter can all be tweaked to the client's demands, creating a truly unique tattoo. With its slightly abstract nature as well, it's easy to construct a piece that represents exactly what you want it to.


If you like the illustrative vibe of New School tattoos, research some designs and see what catches your eye. One of our talented artists would be more than happy to work with you on a piece, so contact the shop for more information.


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Tattoo Pain

Tattoo Pain

Tattoo needles puncture the skin 50 to 3000 times a minute, depositing ink 1mm to 2mm below the surface. To remain permanent it must go through the second layer of skin called the Dermis. This means It's going to hurt, but pain thresholds are different for everyone and there are ways to make your experience more comfortable.

The aim of this article is to cover different parts of the body and associated pain that comes with getting a tattoo in that area. Knowledge is power and if you know you're prone to lightheadedness or fainting it might be a good idea to choose a less sensitive place for your next tattoo, especially if it's your first one.

A good rule to go by is that the more flesh you have on a particular area the less painful it's going to be. This makes the buttocks, calves, outer/upper thighs, and upper arms popular places to get tattooed as the pain is very manageable.

On the other hand this means that the bonier the area, the more painful it's going to be. Let's get started.


One of the most popular places to get a tattoo, the ribs are also one of the most wince-worthy. There is hardly any padding in between the bones and the skin, therefore the vibration of the needles is felt more intensely. Smaller designs are more bearable, but definitely prepare for some wincing with larger pieces.



Like the ribs, this area is bony with little muscle/flesh to cushion the blows of the tattoo needles, with sensitivity ranging from manageable to downright unpleasant. Thinking of tattooing your nipples? They're one of the most painful spots thanks to the dense clusters of nerves they house so you might want to think twice before inking those bad boys.



Another common spot, the feet are at the top of the pain scale for a reason. All those little bones are covered with only a thin layer of skin which doesn't allow for much shock-absorption, and the feet are filled with nerves that make them uncomfortable areas to get done. Ankles are in the same territory as they tend to be fairly bony with little padding, but small designs are very manageable.



For those brave souls looking to get their kneecaps done, prepare yourself. The needles are going into thin skin that covers bone and nothing else, giving it an intense grinding sensation. Inking the back of your knees is nothing to sneeze at either; there is a large nerve that runs down the back of both legs called the sciatic nerve and it is most shallow behind the kneecap. Hitting it with sharp little needles is known to send shooting pain through the entire leg.



If you're thinking of getting your hands tattooed or if you're even thinking of inking your palm, get ready for some serious wincing. Your hands are loaded with sensitive nerves as they are our main source of connecting with the world around us, therefore tattooing them is going to hurt. The closer to the nail beds the worse it gets and some have said that getting their palm done was the most painful tattoo they've ever received. Definitely not for the weak-hearted!



The spine is one of the most sensitive areas of the body as it's loaded with nerves. Getting a tattoo down your vertebrae isn't going to be fun, therefore choosing a less painful area such as the shoulder blade might be a good idea if you know you have a low pain tolerance.



The delicate skin around the armpit is going to be super sensitive when it comes to those little tattoo needles, but the area where the hair grows is actually tougher than the skin around it. This makes the center of the pit less painful, but it's still going to sting.


Elbow/Elbow Ditch

The outer elbow is tough skin over bone with no padding in between. Getting tattooed here is a more intense, grinding sensation with the vibrations felt along the entire arm. On the other side, the ditch of the elbow where it bends on the inside is going to be very sensitive thanks to that soft skin.



Another popular spot to get inked, the forearm is one of the more manageable areas for pain. The muscles in your forearm work well to cushion the needles, but as you move closer to the wrist the more sensitive it will be; tattooing over that thin skin as well as the tendons in your wrist isn't going to be the most fun.



Contrary to popular belief, the stomach isn't that bad of a place to get tattooed. As it is a more fleshy area the discomfort is quite bearable, even for larger pieces. It's only when you get near to the ribcage or the hips that the level of pain is going to rise.


Regardless of where you're planning on getting your next tattoo, it's useful to know which areas of the body are more painful than others. This is especially true if you know you have a low pain tolerance or are prone to fainting. Read up on our Tattoo Preparedness blog for tips on how to make your next tattoo session the most comfortable it can be. This includes getting a good sleep, wearing comfortable clothes, and eating a good meal before your appointment.



Allan, Patrick. "Carefully Decide Where to Get a Tattoo with This Pain Chart." July 4, 2019.

Unlisted. "Does it Really Hurt to Get a New Tattoo? How Do I Stop the Pain of a New Tattoo?" Feb 18, 2019.

Unlisted. "How Fast Does A Tattoo Needle Go?" Nov 15, 2017.

Hunter, Dan. "Least Painful Places To Get A Tattoo." 2019.

Stalder, Erika. "These Are the Most & Least Painful Places to Get A Tattoo, According to the Pros." Nov 29, 2018.

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Sailor Jerry and American Traditional Tattoos

Sailor Jerry and American Traditional Tattoos

American Traditional, or Old School, is a tattoo style that developed during the 1930s. It has a fascinating history that owes its success in great part to a man you've probably heard of already - Norman Collins, AKA Sailor Jerry.


Born in the suburbs of California in 1911, Collins knew he wasn't the 'American Dream' type. He yearned for a more meaningful existence and began his journey by train-hopping across the country with others who held the same philosophies.

On his way to eventually in Chicago, where he landed his first tattooing gig, Collins took up the hobby of stick and poke tattooing. He would practice his skills on other travelers and homeless people, paying the latter off with a few cents or some booze for their time. This is where his first designs came into being.

Upon arriving in the Windy City, Collins met up with a man named Gib "Tatts" Thomas, who owned a tattoo shop and taught him how to use a professional machine for the first time. (Never called a 'tattoo gun!')

This introduced him into a whole new world of tattooing and he took to the craft naturally. One of his major influences were the navy men from the Great Lakes Naval Training Academy. They would come to the shop often to get tattooed, inspiring Collins with their stories and lifestyle so much that he enlisted himself at age 19.

While voyaging in Southeast Asia, Collins was influenced greatly by the culture and art of the area, especially Japan. The dedication given to their craft, the beautiful designs they created, and its secretive nature fascinated him.

Yearning to bring the methods and subjects of Japanese tattooing to the Western world, he created his own unique style using a blend of technical knowledge and his own rebellious nature. This combination gave his designs a professional look while incorporating a sense of humor as well.

He was the only Western artist who corresponded with Japanese tattoo masters, the Horishi, proving his diligence and passion for the practice.

Collins found his way to Hawaiian shores in the 1930s, and in Honolulu's Chinatown opened up his first tattoo shop. There his pieces became very popular, especially with other navy men.


Sailors and officers from all over the world would land on the same beaches for shore leave before heading back out into the open seas. Entertainment of the area included drinking and dancing, socializing with the island women, and getting inked.

With his nautical themes and seafaring designs, Collins was never out of work. Subjects included pin up women, hearts, landscapes, sharks, mermaids, and ships, to name a few, all representations of the lives of the sailors who received them.

Let's take a look at some popular designs.


Usually worn on the pecs, over the heart, or on the shoulders, swallows represented 5000 nautical miles traveled by the sailor. This equals roughly 5750 regular miles.



This blatantly nautical symbol has different meanings depending on who wears it. A single anchor signifies that the sailor has crossed the Atlantic. It could also mean that the man served in the merchant marine, civilian vessels that hauled military supplies.


Hold Fast

This term was often tattooed on the knuckles of sailors to bring good luck while working the rigging. You can imagine how difficult gripping and tying rope would be while being tossed around by an angry ocean.


Palm Trees

During WWII, sailors in the Royal Navy wore palm trees after serving in Mediterranean seas. They were also worn if the sailor had served in Hawaii.


All were enraptured with Collins' distinct style, which many other artists tried to copy. Knowing this, he would deliberately create flawed designs that, if stolen, would be tattooed imperfectly and prove that the artist wasn't the real Sailor Jerry.

The colors of American Traditional were limited as varied palates of skin-safe inks were not in widespread production at the time, but reds, oranges, browns, and greens were utilized to great effect. Bold black outlines made the colors pop and minimal shading was used to keep the designs simple.

This was also done to keep the actual tattooing time short - Collins had so many clients he had difficulty keeping up with them all, and having readily available designs that were done quickly kept customers in his shop.


He was also responsible for the color purple in regards to tattoo ink. Another artist had started a feud with him about the color not being available, and Collins was never one to back down from anything. Purely to prove the artist wrong, he sought the help of some chemists and created the first purple ink. Therefore, the next time you get a tattoo with purple in it, you can thank Sailor Jerry!

He was also the first artist to start using single-use needles and sterilized equipment. This changed the face of tattooing forever, making it a much more safe, hygienic practice.

Collins continued tattooing in his Honolulu shop until 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He attempted to reenlist in the navy after this, but was unable due to a heart condition.

In the 1960s he took up the tattooing machine once again, reopening his shop on Smith Street. A true man of the sea, he also gave boat tours of the Hawaiian Islands.

Norman Collins continued tattooing until his death in 1973 from a heart attack, but his techniques, methods, and designs live on to be enjoyed by fans worldwide.



Lindquist, Adam." A Brief Look Into the History of Traditional Tattoos and How They Mark a Crucial Point in American History." November 14, 2017.

"About Norman Collins." 2019.

Slaughter, Sam. "Tattoos and Rum: The Story of the Real Sailor Jerry, Norman Collins." June 11 2017.

Von B. Mina, Pepe. "Tattooing A to Z #9: Norman Collins "Sailor Jerry."" 2017.

Sagers, Aaron. "Travels Through Tattoo, and American, History in Sailor Jerry's Hawaii." December 7 2017.

Unnamed, Sara. "American Traditional Tattoo Styles and Designs." March 30 2019.

Inked Mag Staff. "Happy Birthday Sailor Jerry!" Oct 10 2018.

Team Mighty. "Here Are the Meanings Behind 19 Classic Sailor Tattoos." July 14, 2016.

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Piercing Bumps

One of the most common complaints in the body modification industry are piercing bumps, and we can all agree they're frustrating to deal with!

Often when people notice a lump around their piercing they assume it's infected. They make a trip to the doctor where the first thing they're told is to remove the jewelry. Always contact us before doing this! Bumps do not equal infection and are probably treatable without making that visit to the clinic and sacrificing your piercing.

Throughout this article we'll discuss the different types of piercing bumps and also outline the characteristics of actual infections so you can take the proper course of action when dealing with your irritated piercing.

There are a few types of lumps that can form around a new piercing, the most common being:

Piercing pimples
Blood blisters
Hypertrophic scars
True keloids


When you get a new piercing you're essentially receiving a professional wound. What makes piercings different from regular cuts and scrapes is that there is a piece of metal holding that hole open which greatly prolongs the healing process.

Your body doesn't see it as a pretty piece of jewelry - all it knows is that a foreign object is stuck in your skin and needs to be flushed out. Cue inflammation response and white blood cell production.


Pus (white blood cells), blood, and discharge known as lymph fluid is sent to the area to try to get rid of the offending object causing swelling, redness, pain, and that little lump we're all so familiar with. You might even see a whitehead resembling a pimple around or close to your piercing.

Try not to touch or pop it as this will add to the irritation and may make it worse. If you burst it by accident you may see blood, pus, and clear fluid leak out but don't be alarmed - again, this is a normal bodily reaction and not an infection.


At Perfect Image we have several different methods for treating piercing pimples. My personal favorite is Dettol. This is a strong antiseptic that you can find for about $10 at your favorite drug store. It's a little too harsh to use by itself though - you need to dilute it with water so it won't irritate your skin.


Take an empty water bottle and put an inch or two of Dettol in it. Fill the rest up with sterilized water (boiled or distilled is fine) and you'll get an opaque solution that looks like milk. Two or three times a day, give your bump a swab with a fresh q-tip or cotton ball. This will solidify the fluid around your piercing and reduce the swelling. Consistency is key with this treatment; you must keep applying the Dettol every day for at least two weeks for it to work.

Pro Tip: use Dettol after a hot shower. That way your skin is more absorbent and will speed up the pimple healing process.

Another method to get rid of those irritating lumps are our No Pull Discs. These are bioplast discs put on either side of your piercing jewelry to gently compress the pimple and encourage it to shrink. We can install these for you for less than $10 and remove them when your bump is gone.

If that lump is being particularly stubborn even after using the above treatments, another option you can try is brand name aspirin. Take a pill and crush it up. Add a few drops of water to create a paste and apply to the bump. Wait 15-20 minutes and then rinse off. Repeat once for at least two weeks and the lump should begin decreasing in size.


Similar to piercing pimples, blood blisters are very common. They show up for the same reasons as well; sleeping on your fresh piercing, catching it on something, or knocking it around and can appear on both cartilage and fleshy areas such as the lip and belly button.



Identification is easy. It will look like a blood filled bump around your piercing and can appear on one or both sides. They can also be sore and painful but again, are definitely not infections.

Treatment is a little easier with blood blisters as you can usually just wait them out. After a couple of weeks they should go away on their own and seldom require help, so just keep up your aftercare regimen as normal and try to avoid touching it or sleeping on it. If it keeps sticking around, give the Dettol treatment a shot.


Hypertrophic scars differ from piercing pimples and blood blisters in a few ways; they are still a byproduct of trauma to the skin but are not filled with any kind of fluid.

Essentially an overproduction of collagen, which is a fibrous protein used in scar formation, these lumps are known as pathological scars and occur when a piercing is inflamed, aggravated, or in an area that is constantly in motion such as the lip or belly.

Hypertrophic scars are easy enough to recognize - they will look like raised bumps close to the piercing site, usually the same color as your skin, and may be painful and itchy.

Development usually occurs a few months after the initial piercing and remains localized, meaning that it does not spread to the surrounding tissues. Hypertrophic scars are defined as 'weakly inflamed' as they lack significant amounts of collagen and blood vessels, but can still form a sizeable lump around the piercing site.

Treatment of hypertrophic scars can be tricky but they're not as difficult to get rid of as keloids. Sometimes they will go away on their own and not even need assistance whereas other scars can be problematic and require more intensive solutions. Read through the information on keloids below for more treatment options.


Dermatologists have suggested that hypertrophic scars and keloids are symptoms of the same skin ailment, with the only difference being the intensity of inflammation.

Unlike hypertrophic scars however, this overproduction of tissue can grow far beyond the injured area, creating a benign tumor otherwise known as a keloid. As keloids are more stubborn than their hypertrophic sisters, they are considered 'strongly inflamed' pathological scars where thick bundles of collagen and blood vessels are present.

Identification of keloid scars is based on a few different characteristics. They will range in color from flesh-hued to deep red and can be painful, itchy, and hard to the touch. Larger keloids can expand far past the initial piercing site, sometimes forming multiple scars on a single injury.

Growth is largely determined by the tension the jewelry exerts on it including pressure applied while sleeping, using too small/too tight rings or bars, or constantly playing with it. With a fresh piercing, switching the jewelry either too soon or too frequently can create multiple injuries to the site which greatly increases the risk of scar development. This is possible with either hypertrophic or keloid scars but can greatly aggravate keloids and cause them to grow larger.

Roughly ten percent of the population will develop a keloid during their lifetime, whether from a body piercing or other superficial injury. Read on to see if you're prone to this type of scarring.


There are several factors that determine who gets keloids and hypertrophic scars, and adolescence is at the top. There is an association between pubescent hormones and pathological scar formation, as the hormones androgen and estrogen exacerbate inflammation which encourages collagen growth and worsens already existing scars.

Hereditary influence might play a part as well. The passing down of biological information through genes might keep pathological scars in the family, so if your parents have ever had them, chances are so will you.

Clinical evidence also suggests that individuals with more pigment in their skin such as those from African-American or Hispanic descent are 15 times more likely to develop these scars, keloids especially.


Unlike piercing pimples and blisters, the treatment of pathological scars is a little finicky as no cure is currently known. The inflammation can be brought down with a few methods however, so hope is not lost! Here are some that have shown results:

Heavy moisturizing lotions and creams, with medicated versions available with a prescription;


Compression treatments similar to the discs applied for piercing pimples;


Cortisone steroid therapy including ointment, tape, and injections;


Silicone gel or sheeting;


Cryotherapy similar to freezing a wart;


Surgical removal (although the chances of the keloid growing back is high)


While true infections are far less common than piercing bumps, they can still happen and it's important to understand prevention and treatment.

Some clear indications of infection are:

Swelling (but not necessarily a 'bump') 
Yellowy/green discharge

Infection occurs when bacteria is allowed to enter the piercing site and any piercing is fair game if proper aftercare is not utilized.

Touching the piercing with dirty hands, swimming in bacteria-rich waters like oceans, lakes, pools, etc, and too short/tight of jewelry are all notorious for causing infections to develop. Wearing unclean clothes, sleeping with unwashed sheets or pillowcases, and switching out unsterilized jewelry are factors as well.

For treatment of minor infections keep the jewelry in and clean with a saltwater rinse 2-3 times a day. Don't use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or medical ointments as this can further irritate the piercing.

Consult a physician if you develop a fever, improvement doesn't occur within 48 hours of home treatment, or if the redness and inflammation spreads beyond the pierced area. Antibiotics are needed at this point and seeking medical attention is imperative.


In the world of piercings, you're probably going to run into the dreaded bump sooner or later. For the most part they are easily remedied and while they may be annoying, are no real cause for concern. You might not even get one when you get pierced!

If you do start developing symptoms such as soreness, swelling, or excessive discharge, drop by the shop and we'll take a look. It's probably just irritation and not worth the trip to the doctor's office, but it's a good idea for one of our piercers to take a look just in case.









1. Ogawa, Rei. "Keloid and Hypertrophic Scars Are the Result of Chronic Inflammation in the Reticular Dermis." March 10, 2017.


2. Multiple contributing authors. "Predictive Analysis of Mechanistic Triggers and Mitigation Strategies for     Pathological Scarring in Skin Wounds." The American Association of Immunologists, Inc. 2017.


3. Cafasso, Jacqueline. "Treatments for Hypertrophic Scars." Healthline Media, August 8, 2017.


4. Berry, Jennifer. "How Do You Get Rid of Keloids?", reviewed 3 November 2017.

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Tattoo Style Series: Japanese Traditional

Tattoo Style Series - Japanese Traditional


In the vibrant world of tattooing, there are a plethora of unique styles to choose from. However none are more universally recognizable than the style of irezumi, or traditional Japanese.


You may have seen some examples yourself; a bright koi, a serpentine dragon, a snarling mask with tusks, or even perhaps a full body suit where several themes are incorporated. These are all classic concepts of this beautiful style, and its history is just as intriguing.



Irezumi, to carve or engrave, is traditionally performed with an instrument called a nomi, which is a long stick of either metal or wood with several needles attached to the end. The number of needles will vary depending on whether the outline or the shading is being done.


The tattooist supports the nomi between the thumb and index finger and uses quick jabbing motions to insert the ink under the skin. Many masters of this technique can go just as fast as a tattoo machine! This process is called tebori, the art of creating tattoos by hand and originated from the artform ukiyo-e, the carving of wood to create a relief print with ink.


To understand this particular connection it is crucial to learn of the extensive history of Japanese tattooing, which goes back thousands of years.



Jomon Period (roughly 10,000 - 300 BC)


Clay figures from this period were found near the city of Osaka with scarification and tattoos represented on their faces and bodies with ink. These artifacts are among the first evidence of tattooing in Japan.


Also during this period, the indigenous Ainu women of Hokkaido saw tattoos as more than just body art. They were a crucial rite of passage before marriage, protection from evil, and assured the individual's place in the afterlife. Starting at a young age, a small dot would be tattooed above the upper lip and more ink would be added until a large design around the entire mouth was formed. Intricate braiding patterns on the hands and arms were common as well.


Body art of this kind was exclusive to Ainu women, both in application and in wearing, and a woman was not considered ready for either marriage or the afterlife without them.



Yayoi Period (300 BC - 300 AD)


One of the few sources of information regarding the history of irezumi is from the writings of Chinese travelers as they visited Japan.


In their journals they described the tattooed bodies of Japanese men and women and thought the designs held spiritual significance or were seen as status symbols. One explorer told of the decorative markings the men bore; they believed the designs protected them while they dove for fish.


Kofun Period (300 - 600 AD)


It wasn't until the Western world began taking notice of Japan that tattoos took on a negative connotation. At this time the Japanese government wished its people to appear civilized and educated to the Western tourists and travelers, therefore the practice of tattooing criminals was started.


Those found guilty of non-violent crimes such as theft were tattooed on their foreheads so everyone would know they were lawbreakers. This practice was known as bokkei. Their first offense would earn them the first stroke of a character, usually a demeaning term such as 'dog,' and repeat offenses would add marks until the word was complete.


Other punishment patterns included a cluster of three dots, lines, or other characters tattooed onto the face or forehead to represent their misdeeds. This made it very difficult for these individuals to secure employment and instantly labeled them as miscreants in society.


Thankfully a law that passed in 1872 stopped the practice but the criminal associations with tattoos has remained to this day.



Edo Period (1603 - 1868)


The Edo Period is as much a time in history as it was a place; before Tokyo became the capital of Japan, it was known as Edo. During this time tattoos were still used as a form of punishment, but small trends began developing among those who still saw the practice as an artform. One in particular was a design of two lovers and the piece was only finished when their hands touched for the first time.


However, it wasn't until the publication of a particular Chinese novel Suikoden by Shi Nai'an that the irezumi revolution exploded. It was a tale of bravery, courage, and illustrated with woodblock prints of heroic men adorned with impressive tattoos. The book was a huge success and demand for that specific type of body art rose with it. People became fascinated with the beautiful dragons, lions, koi, and samurai etched in the characters' skin and wanted their own.


The woodcarvers of the time saw this movement as an opportunity and transferred their craft to tattooing. In fact, tattooists and woodcrafters alike were known as horishi. The same tools used for creating prints were utilized to create images in flesh, including gouges and chisels, making this new form of body modification both painful and time consuming. Even so, this practice became immensely popular especially among firemen who considered the designs as forms of protection, both physical and spiritual.




It's difficult to discuss irezumi without mentioning the yakuza, as their histories are very much intertwined. The yakuza refers to the Japanese mafia and the gang members themselves, with the term being synonymous with either. The organization is an old one and is still alive in Japan today.


Their culture was heavily influenced by the practice of bokkei, and initiation included receiving full body irezumi which sometimes took years to finish. Great respect is shown to yakuza with completed body suits, as it shows the level of dedication and patience needed to endure the process.


Irezumi is meant to be worn under clothes to prevent unwanted attention, and this is especially important for the yakuza. Many establishments in Japan will still refuse entry to anyone sporting visible ink, showing that the reputation of bokkei still precedes itself.


Irezumi designs are cut off at the wrists, neck, and ankles and a strip of bare skin is usually left down the chest so the images will remain hidden even if the shirt is unbuttoned.


Popular themes in these pieces include stories of the wearer's life, images of protection and defense, and mythological tales with wonderful beasts.


The creation of a full body suit can take years. Great respect is shown to yakuza with completed body suits, as it shows the level of dedication and patience needed to endure the process.


Irezumi is a sacred and private part in the lives of yakuza. Only close friends and family are permitted to view the artwork. In fact, irezumi artists only tattoo clients through word of mouth; they do not advertise their services and usually tattoo out of their own homes.


Subjects - Dragons


The themes and subjects of traditional Japanese tattooing are numerous and fascinating, and what better place to start than with the dragon.


The oriental dragon, or Ryu, differs greatly from the Western beasts we're familiar with. They have the attributes of many different animals; the ears of a cow, eyes of a rabbit, stag horns, and the sharp talons of an eagle.


Whether or not the dragon is tattooed in color depends on its age - creatures 500 years or older are seen with colored scales and younger ones are not, as they have yet to earn them. Ryu represents strength, wisdom, good fortune, and are believed to protect the wearer.




One of the most symbolic creatures in Japan, koi are widely revered for the courage, bravery, and ambition they represent. According to legend, a school of koi were swimming in the Yellow River and attempting to jump over the waterfall at the other end. Demons watching decided to raise the height of the waterfall out of spite, and many koi failed in ascending it. However, one fish tried harder than the others and made it over the top. Rewarded for its efforts, the gods transformed it into a golden dragon.




Japanese theatre, called Noh, is highly stylized and tells the stories of popular myths and legends. The actors wore masks to portray the intense emotions of the people they were playing, with hannya masks used specifically to symbolize a vengeful woman consumed by anger and jealousy. Her negative energy transformed her into a demon with large fangs, horns, and agonized eyes. Tattooed hannya masks are often colored according to which story is being represented; the tale of unrequited love may be a milder color while a more violent, passionate tale would be depicted in bright red.


Foo Dogs


Foo dogs, otherwise known as Chinese guardian lions, Komainu, or Shishi are a common theme found in art, sculpture, and irezumi. They are actually stylized lions and often appear in pairs. The left is considered female, yin, and the right is seen as male, yang. They are protectors and defenders, usually seen guarding Buddhist temples, homes, restaurants, and businesses. Having the two together is essential in keeping balance - you would never see just one half of the yin yang design.


Other irezumi subjects include cherry blossoms, samurai, maple leaves, phoenixes, and tigers. For full body irezumi, it is the combination of images together that defines the overall meaning or story of the piece.




If one has the desire to learn how to perform irezumi, they must be prepared for a rigorous and difficult apprenticeship. Reaching back to the 18th century, these learning periods are known as deshiiri and only the most dedicated students complete the training.


It is common for the apprentice to live with an irezumi master to learn the trade, usually for five years. During this time they are not permitted to tattoo, only watch the master as he works on clients. There are no stencils in traditional irezumi - designs must be established from memory and the apprentice is expected to learn the lore and myths of the characters being tattooed.




While modern day Japan still frowns upon tattoos because of past criminal affiliations, they are steadily becoming more accepted and tolerated. This is in great part due to influence from the West; people are fascinated by the beautiful, meaningful designs of irezumi and travel many miles to receive their own.


This article is merely a brief outline of the history of irezumi - further research is encouraged to learn more about this amazing and secretive style of tattooing.

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Tattoo Expectations and Preparedness


Whether you’re getting your first tattoo or your hundredth, we want your experience with Perfect Image to be as comfortable and as positive as possible. That’s why we’ve gathered up some important information regarding the expectations and preparations involved in getting your next piece with us. This article will cover the design process from consultation to the final product, and will outline the mental and financial preparations needed to make your tattoo the best that it can be.




So, you have a great tattoo idea in mind that you’re excited about and want to get done. What’s next? If you’re looking for something simple like a small flower or symbol you can usually get it done the day you call or walk in, assuming one of our artists has enough time. Availability really depends on the day so giving the shop a call before you drop by is always a good idea.




If you’re in the market for a larger, more complex piece or if you’d like some direction for an idea, booking a consultation is the place to start. These appointments are always free and give you the opportunity to chat with an artist about the design of your tattoo, how long it will take, how much it will cost, etc. They’ll also go over any questions or concerns you might have. Consults take roughly twenty minutes and if you’re satisfied you can book the tattoo afterwards. As always, there’s no obligation to book when you’re done.


When discussing the design with the artist there are a few things to take into consideration. If your reference is an already existing tattoo, the artist is not going to create an exact replica. This is out of respect for the initial tattooer and also because each artist has their own unique style. Think about it, you wouldn’t want someone else with the exact same tattoo as you!


Depending on the design, your tattoo might need to be resized. This is especially true for script. If done too small, the lines will blur together over the years and may make the words difficult or impossible to read. During your consult the artist will show you what size it needs to be so that blurring won’t occur. Font choice is a determining factor in the size as well; if you want elegant, flowing cursive it will need to be larger than a thin, sans-serif typeface. The amount of detail affects how large a tattoo has to be, too. A hyper-realistic lion is a great idea but we just won’t be able to fit it into a 3” x 3” space.


Another important decision to make is where the tattoo is going to go on your body. Do you want it to be clearly visible or are you going to need to cover it from time to time? Sometimes a particular design will fit better in a different spot than what you had intended - for example, getting a portrait or larger piece is going to look better on a thigh or upper arm, whereas a semicolon in the same area is going to look out of place. Script on the outside of the foot is a popular spot, but friction from wearing shoes that constantly rub against the area can cause fading and make healing difficult. Ask your artist which location is best for your tattoo and they can suggest different areas that would work.


The finances associated with getting a tattoo are important to consider as well. Our minimum shop charge is $80 plus tax and $150 an hour. In the consultation the artist will give you a quote for your tattoo, and if you have a budget you want to work under they can usually accommodate it within reason with some variations to the design. If you’re ready to book after your consult, we require a deposit to hold your spot. This is non-refundable but it comes off the price of your tattoo when you’re all done, so it’s not an additional fee. If you need to reschedule your appointment we require at least 48 hours notice and not showing for your appointment will forfeit your deposit.


Tattoo Preparation


Alright, you’ve completed your consultation and booked your tattoo. Great! However, further preparation is needed before going under the needle, er, needles.


Getting a good sleep the night before is a great start. Being well rested will assist with pain management and will keep your head in the game. Make sure you eat a good meal too - being full will also make it less painful and helps prevent lightheadedness.


This may sound obvious but we will not tattoo you if you are intoxicated. Alcohol thins the blood, causing wounds to bleed more and clot less which makes tattooing a nightmare. Save the drinking for afterwards!


Release Form


Every time you get a tattoo with Perfect Image, a release waiver needs to be completed. Give this form a good read as it covers important health and liability information. It’s also a great chance to ask your artist any further questions before getting into the tattoo chair.


The Stencil


Your artist will already have a stencil of your design ready when you come in, and if you come as a walk-in they will spend a few minutes to draw it up for you. It will be placed where you want the tattoo to go and can be adjusted until you’re satisfied with the position.


Getting Tattooed


“How much will it hurt?” is a question we hear all the time and the answer is different for everyone. Females tend to have a higher pain tolerance but don’t let that stop you guys! Many say that getting tattooed is akin to cat scratches or having a sunburn. For the most part the pain is very manageable and you’ll find that after a while your body will get used to the sensation. Some people even enjoy it!


For large pieces, you may be worked on for hours at a time. This means preparing to sit still and be calm even while uncomfortable. Know that the artist will appreciate your diligence; it’s much easier to tattoo a non-moving canvas! Understand that the pain will be worth it in the end and you’ll walk away with an amazing new piece of body art.


Feel free to chat with your tattooer while in session. Casual conversation will help you relax and take your mind off the pain. If you’re not much of a talker, bring your headphones and listen to music if you like. Some people bring books or even watch a movie on their phone while getting tattooed. Anything you need to be comfortable.


Wrapping Up


After you’re done, the artist will wrap the tattoo in a bandage and go over the aftercare process with you. Each artist might have a slightly different method but it’s very important that you follow their advice when it comes to taking care of your new art. Keep it out of direct sunlight, avoid touching it unless to clean, and stay out of hot tubs, pools, and oceans/lakes for at least three weeks. This will keep it looking healthy and vivid for years to come, and we have a variety of aftercare products to ensure it stays that way.


If you’re thinking of booking your next tattoo with Perfect Image, contact us whenever is convenient for you. Our Facebook and Instagram pages are full of previously done work and projects in progress, giving you endless inspiration. We’d love to set you up with one of our talented artists!

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Leah Hervoly
January 23, 2020
show Leah's posts
Samantha A
September 20, 2018
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