TATTOO TERRIBLE

2017-01-09 10:57
Neil de Waal (left) smiles bravely as he sits for his 17th tattoo by professional tattoo artist and expert Mike Armstrong. INSET: The tattoos Rhonda Arumugam got from a tattooist in Northdale which allegedly left her with an infection and scarring around the tattoos.

Neil de Waal (left) smiles bravely as he sits for his 17th tattoo by professional tattoo artist and expert Mike Armstrong. INSET: The tattoos Rhonda Arumugam got from a tattooist in Northdale which allegedly left her with an infection and scarring around the tattoos. (Nompilo Kunene/ Rhonda Arumugam)

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A Northdale woman says she was left with scarring, bruising and dark marks after getting a tattoo.

With tattoos currently all the rage among the youth, the woman’s experience highlights what can go wrong. Rhonda Arumugam, who has 15 tattoos from different artists, said she had two tattoos done recently at a local tattoo parlour.

“The next morning both my arms were completely black with bruising. The pain was so bad I had to spend a few days in bed.

“I woke to a raging infection on both my arms, with oozing pus. To clear it up I had to take a course of antibiotics, and had to apply topical cream and an antiseptic wash.”

She said she called the artist complaining about the infection, but was told “to leave it to dry”, although eventually the artist refunded her R250 back from the R300 she had paid for the two tattoos. Arumugam said she wanted to warn all tattoo lovers to be wary when considering getting a tattoo. “I am now permanently scarred due to the infection. I think the public should be made aware of safety measures to check before selecting who their artist will be,” she said.

Krish Naidu, the tattooist who drew the two tattoos on Arumugam, said he has been doing tattoos for many years now and has never had anyone complain except Arumugam.

“Right after doing her tattoo she went outside and stood in the heat. It was a very hot day and I did warn her about it.” He said people must stay out of the sun directly after having a tattoo.

However, Arumugam denied she had been in the sun, and said she had sat in his lounge and in the shade of his veranda.

“She also told me she had high blood pressure,” said Naidu, but Arumugam said she believed that had nothing to do with the bruising and scarring.

Pietermaritzburg expert and professional tattoo artist Mike Armstrong said infections can be caused by many things, from unsterile needles to people not taking care of their tattoos afterwards.

“We as tattoo artists cannot be held liable for any infections, as we cannot guarantee if people take good care of their tattoos.

“Once you leave the parlour, it becomes your responsibility to ensure that your tattoo is well taken care of and is healing well,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong, who has been working as a professional tattoo artist for the past 12 years after completing his apprenticeship under a renowned artist, said South Africa has no recognised qualification or precise laws in place which regulate tattoo artists.

“Being a tattoo artists comes with years of training and a good track record, satisfied customers and a good reputation.”

He said it is very important that people do extensive research about a tattoo artist beforehand.

“When you decide to get a tattoo make sure it’s timeless. Don’t follow trends because trends pass and you will be stuck with that for the rest of your life,” he warned.

Neil de Waal, who was getting his 17th tattoo by Mike Armstrong on Friday, said most of his tattoos have sentimental value, carrying memories from his past, life lessons and symbols of loved ones.

De Waal was in the process of getting a very detailed tattoo of Buddha and a lotus flower.

“I am a very spiritual person and many of my tattoos symbolise that,” said De Waal, both of whose arms are covered in colourful tattoos.

Chelsea Pieterse, a reporter at The Witness, said she has two tattoos and plans to have more done.

“I love my tattoos to have meaning to them. I won’t just get a random tattoo that means nothing to me,” explained Pieterse.

Pieterse said she had her first tattoo in 2013 when she was still studying to become a journalist. The tattoo is of a small drawing of the African continent and around it is written “story teller”, and the other one is of two conjoined infinity signs shaped as a cross.

“I got my first tattoo because as a journalist story-telling is what I do. I have a passion for it. The African continent symbolises my home and is rich in religion and culture,” she said.

She said the infinity cross was a drawing by her younger sister and the tattoo artist traced the tattoo from the original drawing.

“It is unique and delicate. My sister and I are extremely close so the tattoo is very special to me,” she said.

When asked why she had 15 tattoos, Arumugam said she had never met anyone who only wanted to have one tattoo.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  tattoos

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