Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Tattooing in the Third Dimension.

March 2nd, 2009 by

Interestingly enough the current trend in 3D tattooing is not as new as many would seem to think, and yet it is.

As many of you have probably guessed I’m an old fart, so I remember when Spider Web created the first 3D tattoo. The difference being that Spider’s had no resemblance to what is today called a 3D tattoo. What the Web man did was to create a back piece tattoo that had the same qualities as the 3D posters of that time. Some may remember the 3D posters of the seventies; the ones that you had to wear those goofy red and blue lens glasses to create the illusion of 3D? Spider did the same thing with the back piece, and viewed through a set of 3D glasses the effect was startling, to say the least.

If your interested there is a pic of Spider, the tattoo, and the model in the classic photo book “The Sign Upon Cain”.

However, this type of 3D tattooing isn’t what the buzz is about today. For the most part the 3D tattoo of today is a highly photo realistic tattoo that is so well executed that to looks as if it is either floating on the body, or breaking out of the body. These are then enhanced by injecting a small amount of hyaluronic acid (sugar) under the skin to raise certain areas of the tattoo for a contoured look to the design. Check it out.

Personally, I think the sugar injections detract from the absolute beauty of the 3D illusion created by an artist skilled enough to make such mind numbing designs. Not to mention that causing raised points on the tattoo just doesn’t look so hot. More often than not it makes the tattoo look like it has something wrong with it and therefore detracts from some really killer work that from a distance could stand on it’s own.

On the whole it takes an average of 40+ hours to create one of these masterpieces of optical deception, so the cost is quite high. There have also been some issues with the overall safety of injecting sugar under the skin. For example I don’t think the idea would be very practical for someone who might be borderline diabetic.

Another factor that anyone considering a 3D tattoo may want to consider is removal, or cover-up. While a laser may be able to fade out the design, I’m not at all certain it would do much to remove the dimensional elements of the design. Abrasion, while not the most practical way to rid one’s self of an unwanted tat, would seem to be out of the question here because of the raised skin. It would also seem that the contoured areas of the original tattoo would not be very useful, if not down right detrimental to any other design being laid over it.

As I said, considering the absolutely fantastic detail in the images used for 3D tattooing, I don’t think I would bother with the injections. Just having such a killer piece would be more than enough for me, but to each his own. Just remember in the case of 3D tattoos, this is a place where, “Think before you ink.” isn’t just a good suggestion. It’s a down right necessity.

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