Tattoos: A User’s Guide

The ancient Polynesians were the ones who created tattoos. They pounded sharp sticks tipped with ash and coconut oil repeatedly into their flesh with mallets. ‘Skin Stories,’ a documentary of tribal art, shows the patient tied to a tree so that they could not run from the pain.
Back then, if you wanted a tattoo, you had to be damn sure. The pierced skin would bleed profusely and infection was common. These days, that is hardly the case. The tattooing process is sterile and its designs appear everywhere: on bikers, moms, celebrities, even that quiet girl in your English class with the tribal dragon peeking out of her GAP khakis.
What has become of this ancient art? Has the once taboo tradition lost all meaning? And when you finally go for the ink is there ever any going back?

We have come a long way from the days of pointed sticks and ashes. For those who have never been in a tattoo parlor it goes a little something like this: four or five heavily pierced and inked dudes stare at you as you walk in, flip through the samples, and try not to make eye contact. There is a low buzz and the smell of iodine. The sound is the tattoo gun