I always assumed getting a tattoo was a big deal. The kind of decision that transforms your insides as thoroughly as the ink transforms your skin. As a kid, I saw the sleeves of grizzly bikers who sat outside of bars by my house or the lower-back lotuses of the yoga-doing baristas over in Berkeley. Perhaps my most vivid tattoo memory was the hand-poked dagger on the inner forearm of my step-grandpa (he got it in prison, but that's a different story). Like many things that seem like a shatteringly huge deal at 10 years old, getting my first tattoo wasn't something I thought about much as an adult.
At most, in my twenties, I was tattoo ambivalent, not against (I loved them on my friends), but not excited enough to schedule one for myself. But, at 28, the chance came up to get a tiny tattoo done by Daniel Winter aka Winterstone, an artist who specializes in super-fine lines. "Art has been a passion of mine since childhood," he tells me via email. "Each time that I went to sketch I always picked up the thinnest pencils and pens possible. When I started tattooing, I knew that I would be able to translate that same style into my work. I love that the delicate, fine style of these tattoos still carry such power — both to the eye and in the meanings that they hold."
It seemed like the perfect excuse to finally jump — so I settled on a small rose that reminded me of the wallpaper in an old family home and the buzzing began ... and then ended almost immediately. The tattoo was so small, that I hadn't had a chance to get nervous, second guess, or even feel pain. Now, two tattoos in, I am absolutely aware that tattoos can be excruciating, depending on size and placement, but for both my first and second — a small hand-poked wave by Rosa Bluestone Parr — I found myself in far less discomfort than from the stab of a Covid test nose swab.
Still to those weighing when, how, and if a tattoo is right for them, Winter explains that the last year has changed not only his business but the gravitas behind his work. "I think that the nature of the tattoo process as a whole holds so much more meaning," he says. "This past year was really heavy and allowed for a lot of reflection. I'm finding that now more than ever, my clients are coming to me for art that has a powerful story and means a lot to them."
In the vein of my own tattoo choices, Winter has seen an increase in interest for the natural world. "People are using nature as a symbol for different meanings in their lives," he notes. "Examples of this include trees to symbolize family roots, or stars as they are all unique in what they represent." He adds that names and hearts are other meaningful tattoo choices he's seen increase in popularity of late.
As you prepare for your own possible tattoo, there are a few things you'll want to consider. Firstly, finding what type of tattoo (and which artist) is right for you, whether it be fine lines like me, or something big and colorful. While a larger trend like nature is sure to never go out of style, consider if the piece you want is one you'll feel the same way about in decades to come. And, to ensure that the tattoo holds up as well as possible (they can fade or bleed over time), make sure to care for them properly. Below, are a few products to help get you started as recommended by Winter.
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Tattoo Care: Protect Your New Ink
"For the first 48 hours while your tattoo is fresh and still healing, I always request that my clients leave on the protective clear stick film," Winter says. "Once that is removed, the area of the tattoo should be washed with an antibacterial soap immediately."
Tattoo Care: Moisturize
"Moisturizer is also a huge part of the healing process! I suggest applying a small amount of moisturizer or balm one to two times a day until the tattoo is fully healed."
Tattoo Care: Use Sunscreen
"Even after your tattoo is fully healed, I always recommend that my clients apply sunscreen to the area to protect and preserve the art."