Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Getting a Tattoo In Mazatlán

The word tattoo is said to have two major derivations- from the polynesian word ‘ta’ which means striking something and the tahitian word ‘tatau’ which means ‘to mark something’.

The history of tattoo began over 5000 years ago and is as diverse as the people who wear them.

Tattoos are created by inserting colored materials beneath the skins surface. The first tattoos probably were created by accident. Someone had a small wound, and rubbed it with a hand that was dirty with soot and ashes from the fire. Once the wound had healed, they saw that a mark stayed permanently.

In 1991, a five thousand year old tattooed man ‘ötzi the ice man’ made the headlines of newspapers all over the world when his frozen body was discovered on a mountain between austria and italy. This is the best preserved corpse of that period ever found. The skin bears 57 tattoos: a cross on the inside of the left knee, six straight lines 15 centimeters long above the kidneys and numerous parallel lines on the ankles.

tattoos through the ages.

A good journalist or researcher or photographer needs to get to know the subject intimately to do it justice and in the interests of good journalism we at MazReal sent our man kicking his slovenly backside to a tattoo artist and get himself tattooed and report back.

He made an appointment at Dark Ink tattoo parlour,  if you can still call them that although we should say studio because they are artists nowadays rather than those guys (men generally) using a rusty nail and some paint who slapped on a template of a heart for instance, fat and full, being pierced by a knife dripping blood or those 'Popeye' navy ones with an anchor, or one saying MUM or your girlfriends name like Johnny Depp had but had to remove later.

Our man wanted (as he was being shoved in that direction by bribes - vodka! ) an ancient Mexica motif. So he found a book of stencils that the Mayans used on their temple walls. A fierce jaguar facing an open mouthed serpent spitting a forked tongue all in the artistic traditions of that era. Here it is:

He scanned and printed the image and made sure it was long enough to wrap around his manly heavily muscled upper right arm and took it to the artist at Dark Ink (opposite the Jungla Veterinarian on Cameron Sabalo).

Tonio, with baseball cap back to front, tatts all the way down his right arm, tatts on his shaved bald head, pin in his lower lip, a thick pin through one of his upper vertebrae, pants half way down his arse and ear lobes extended in that tribal way containing large black plastic or black stone circles said sure I can do it and that was that. He paid him a deposit and said he will return tomorrow. He said it will take 4 hours and he said OK. (Tonio had just come off a 12 hour session with a one hour break)

In the unfortunate reporter's own words:

"Next day I was ushered into his air conditioned piratical tattoo salon where Tonio was doing a delicate template of my chosen design. I was really apprehensive because it was quite a complicated design and any slip or crooked line would be sure to ruin the whole effect. This tatt need to 'flow' to look good and those white dots and white of eyes had to be perfect. Plus it had to look good on the wrap around join. One side to perfectly meld into the other.

 He shaved my arm and I could already feel that he had a delicate reassuring touch and laid me down on a fold up couch. He applied the template around my arm and began. Using my scanned design as a visual aid.

Gloved and clean.

Exactly as Tonio predicted, 4 hours of not unpleasant little bee stinging sensations that kind of became addictive at the end because I wanted him to carry on. 

Tattooing is a very intimate artform. A nice guy in this case, very close-up systematically piercing your skin and injecting ink, wiping it down, piercing, wiping, spraying cool stuff, wiping, applying skin cream, prodding, pushing. I really enjoyed it. Better than a massage because at the end you have a piece of art work to show for it rather than some unfulfilled fantasy.

I got up and staggered around a bit while my muscles and bones from those long hours of immobility re-orientated themselves and took a look at the result in the mirror. 

It was better than the original. Clean lines, perfect dots, and very intricate and delicately done. I was more than pleasantly surprised. The only pain was a stinging sensation on the underside of my bulging manly bicep where the skin is rather delicate.

I paid him, gave him a large tip and was on my way virtually crashing head first into lampposts and people whilst looking very appreciatively at my right arm. From a 'before' of just skin to an 'after' of an amazing design that will be with me forever. Like a kid who gets their first watch. They cannot stop staring at it.

I think my left arm is in need of decoration now. Why stop?"

In Europe and in the UK at least there is a growing number of middle aged people, men and women, getting tattooed. Their kids are out of their hair, they may be retiring soon or are already retired and now they couldn't give a shit about conventions. So they get themselves artistically tattooed by good artists that do not really come cheaply. But here in Mexico as Tonio mentioned, older people with tattoos are generally thought of as being ex-cons or in gangs.

Tonio said it was a nice change to do this tatt as he has been lately doing many butterflies on women, butterflies flying up their backs, butterflies flying sexily out the front of their nickers with the unsubtle purpose of drawing one's eye down to that region, butterflies everywhere even on the feet. He was sick of butterflies. "Mariposas" he spat.

We will upload a 'finished' image of the tatt when it properly heals. ( a week or so)

Go on DO IT!!!!!!

In fact here they are in situ - the healing process was just 24 hours!


  1. I love it! I bet you'll love it more and more as time goes on. I have. Mine is a bracelet of tropical flowers



  2. good looking tattoo, colourful and artistic and an interesting location. Nice.

  3. Husband Paul has a number of tattoos, now that he has heard your experience here he might go ahead and get another.

  4. I can't take a picture of mine; it wouldn't be ladylike. Along with a tattoo, that arm needs to be mowed. '-)

  5. next blog about pale skin european born under african sun and the evolutionary traits that rapidly occur to protect said pale skin - overgrowth of hair on exposed bits and lengthening of arms that would eventually mutate said person into ape. Got out just in time.

  6. Careful amigo, it can be very addictive and you have a lot of vacant skin left.


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