PDP Exclusives by Rebecca

Monday, September 19, 2011

Medical Tattooing at Paris Ink

Modern Rosies is all about diversity of information, so when our friend Ginger Serenity came to us with an article she has written about a shop local to her that does medical tattooing, we jumped at the chance to share. Far too often, women (as well as men) have scars, blemishes, ect that they feel are unattractive, and this service can be an amazing boost of self esteem, and in some cases, a closure to a painful event. We thank Ginger for such an informative pieces, and hope to hear more from her again real soon!

*Please note, this is an informative article, and contains mostly opinions. DO not accept this, or ANY article, as medical advice, please consult your doctor before doing anything to your body**

Paris Ink located in the growing suburb of Oakville, Ontario; is owned by Joanne Ragno; being the busy woman that Joanne is I was greeted warmly by the General Manager/Head Artist Alley and his fellow artists. Paris Ink is a beautiful and spacious studio decorated in warm but rich tones of red with wonderful pieces of art displayed for clients to peruse.

Alley was kind enough to set aside some time for me to interview him in regards to an article that was issued in The Oakville Today. This particular article had stated that Paris Ink offered a solution to scars and skin pigmentation, which as my readers would all know I would find fascinating. This interview truly was! To say that I was amazed at Alley’s skill would be an understatement.

I first asked Alley when he became interested in Body Art; this fascination was when he was 16, when he got his first tattoo; after which he then begged the shop manager to teach him. After more than several attempts the shop manager gave Alley his chance and now he was able to do his apprenticing. Alley began to practice the art of tattooing on honeydew melons, pig skins and eventually his teacher. I must say here that Alley uses this same theory of apprenticeship to this day with his own staff. He teaches each new staff the correct way of sterilization techniques, hints on tattooing and of course the ultimate test a tattoo on him.

Alley draws freehand, does airbrushing, paints and does murals as well. Alley was not always an artist although I truly believe that it must have been in his soul the whole time, he was a First Response Fire Fighter, and he always had it in him to help people. Although in that line of work he was helping people Alley felt it was not 100% of what he could really do for them, he wanted to go further, so with his medical background he decided to give Body Art another try and see what he could do with it. As in the Body Art world you meet a lot of artist and Alley found that there were many that were afraid to do any artwork anywhere near a scarred area. However Alley felt differently he felt you should be able to abstract from the scar or tattoo the area. The opportunity came by way of a female client who had a keloid scar; he took that and made it into a 3D firefly. Alley then researched further to see how much more he could really help people from all areas: cancer surgeries, loss of breast even stretch marks are possible. I was able to speak with one of Alley clients in her 70’s that has an auto-immune deficiency disease that left her body in a patch-like color; this client is now so confident and happy. She has never been happier, that she can wear any type of clothing and not feel embarrassed, or that she is being looked at, stared at. I felt so happy for her. We now have in the Body Art culture Paris Ink’s talented artist Alley who can not only make beautiful and awesome art but can make a person feel beautiful with his determination to give that 100% he was looking to give..

According to Alley everyone at Paris Ink has been trained by him personally, from the receptionist (Victoria), Cher (artist/medical cover-up), Stevie (artist). Alley’s belief is “that we don’t have to be a prick to be the best! It is an honor for you to tattoo the client.” He wants to maintain a long term relationship with his clients and works closely with the Health & Safety Board, so closely in fact that the students/interns from Health & Safety often come to the studio as part of class day trips.

Where does Alley want to be in 10 years, right there at Paris Ink, just tattooing; he’s done teaching.....but perhaps doing some Guest Spots. He laughs.

I wanted to know what happens during the 45 minute consultation for a medical cover-up, Alley explains:

Ø he surveys the area to see what they are looking at, what they may have to do

Ø he tells the client the type and the name of the technique he uses is called “Feathering”

Ø finds out what exactly they are trying to achieve

Ø listens to them, their fears and wants

Ø discusses what’s involved in the process; such as the amount of sessions it may take

Ø advise the client on what it will look like

Ø advise the client if it will hurt (some of these people have never had a tattoo)

Alley had a client come in the Mobility Bus, she had a Bucket List and wanted a Hummingbird, and this was her first tattoo. To Alley this was such a cute moment and one he will never forget. It’s moments like these that are memorable. Every artist has a mentor and Alley has John, his teacher, who has sadly passed away. He was always surrounded by good natured positive people; his grandfather gave him all the words of wisdom that he lives by. His most favored artist would have to be Chris Garver, whom Alley claims to be an exceptional artist.

Please read Alfreda’s personal testimonial:

I was about 50 when I first noticed a few 'white spots'...not knowing at the time it was Vitiligo or even what that was!! My first recollection was on my right thumb knuckle...I remember scraping my thumb on the metal strip on the fridge, and thinking this was a scar. While shaving my underarms I noticed a big white circle under both arms...what the heck is this? I then noticed one areola was white (it has since darkened). Several years later, I notice 'whitening' on my inner thighs, and part of the skin around this became darker.

In 2001, from the elbow to about 2" below my wrist, I noticed solid white patches on both arms. When Vitiligo presents itself, it does so symmetrically. This bothered me so I went to a skin specialist and she told me it was Vitiligo, that it can come back as fast as it came, and it is hereditary, although no one else in my family has it. Perhaps it came from my grandparent’s generation! She pointed out that I also had a spot on my left eyebrow and eyelid! This I cover with eye shadow, so I'm not bothered by it. She said there is no cure, that it's an auto-immune deficiency (the immune system attacks itself), they don't know why it comes...it's like...why do some people get allergies! She asked if I had insurance and prescribed a cream at $100.00, and was told it may or may not work! I remember her saying "you can always have it tattooed"! I laughed and said 'yeah, if it goes on my face'!! Thank God it's not on my face.

At some point, I developed a spot under the chin, a few spots on the collar bone, and a circle on the back of my neck and a circle on each foot. Also, I have spots under the hairline at the forehead and back of head. I have it on my inner arms, and am now getting 'spotted' on the front arms. Gradually, the spot on my right thumb lost the pigment as did the left thumb, down to the wrist.

In early 2006, I was under a great deal of stress and I broke out in a severe rash on my inner arms, outer thighs, buttocks, feet and ankles, I went to the Doctor, and was told my immune system had been agitated and I would be itchy for six week, and I was! When the itch cleared, these areas all lost their pigment. Now I was really upset, so I went to a Chinese Herbalist, specializing in Vitiligo. I was given some natural supplements to take several times a day, for several weeks, with no guarantees and very expensive! I stopped taking them after a couple of weeks and decided to just live with this. He did tell me that wherever the skin has been traumatized, Vitiligo will set in. Later that year, I was in Las Vegas, woke up one morning and my fingers on both hands were white, below the second knuckle It just appeared overnight!!

In 2009, I again woke up one morning and the backs of my hands were white! My feet and ankles followed. Again, it really bothered me and I became very angry. I have an active social life, I travel a lot, I do my nails every two weeks and I was embarrassed when sitting at a table and would keep my hands in my lap. I bought some expensive makeup to apply to my arms and hands, even feet, when wearing sandals. It reminded me of being made up like a corpse and it rubbed off on the table cloth!

Last summer, August 2010, I was at a BBQ, and the subject of Vitiligo came up, as a young fella there was getting it. I remember tucking my feet under me, to hide it. My friend was quite aware of this and said 'why don't you have it tattooed, it's called 'feathering'? As we discussed it more, I became excited and decided to look into it.

I remembered a friend had mentioned she was opening a Tattoo Studio. I called Joanne and asked if she still had the Studio. Its name is Paris Ink, and Alley was a Color Specialist and he is the best. I understand that Alley is one of only two Color Specialists in South-western Ontario. The other one could not help me and suggested a Tattoo Artist, as my needs were greater than what they could provide. That Friday evening, Alley called, reassuring me, after I became quite emotional while telling him where I was affected, that he could definitely help me and would I like to come in tomorrow morning at 10:00 for a consultation! I felt so relieved, he was wonderful and his voice was so soft and calming.

My first treatment was a few days later, for five hours. He did my hands and feet. He couldn't believe that I was a 'trooper' that I didn't feel the pain! Well, the secret was that I took a Tylenol 3 before and during the procedure! This does take the edge off the pain, plus we were chatting and listening to music, so that helped. I remember telling him that I must want this so badly, that I don't let it bother me! My hands and feet have been done three times so far, until the proper color is achieved. The third time, this past April, the color was a perfect match! I am elated and feel so much better when I am dressed up. Once again, I can show off my hands, nails and jewellery!

Vitiligo must be protected from the sun, by using sunblock. I just returned from a cruise, and I don't intentionally sit in the sun, but by being out and about, I still got a bit of a tan. I am consulting with Alley to see if it's better to go darker on the hands and feet, to match this tan, instead of staying at my natural complexion, because in the winter long sleeves and socks are worn!!

I am so happy with Paris Ink and Alley. All the Crew are wonderful, caring, professional and talented individuals and we are now like family; Paris Ink is a very high class, respectable Tattoo Studio. I like the fact that Alley has a medical background, the studio is super sterile and the atmosphere there is amazing. My Doctor was very impressed with the results of my 'tattoos' and asked for his card to refer patients to.

I am pleased to give my testimonial about my experience with Paris Ink, Alley and the Crew. I sincerely hope this will let others, who suffer from Vitiligo or any other skin discoloration or scars, that there is permanent help available, in the form of 'feathering'. I know it is a better, cheaper alternative than oral medications and light therapy, which do state that they can be carcinogenic! After a few feathering sessions, you have permanent, chemical-free makeup!

You may contact Paris Ink at 407 Speers Rd, Oakville, ON. Tel: 905-845-7645

Fax: 905-845-7466 Email: www.parisink.com

Ginger Serenity is a freelance writer that focuses on body art and modification. She currently resides in Canada.

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