1. Does it hurt?
Yes. All tattoos hurt. However, having said that, getting a tattoo is not nearly as painful as you might imagine. It does not feel like the shot you get in a doctor’s office. The sensation is more of a vibration and after the first couple of minutes you get used to the sensation. There are however certain areas of the body that are considered more sensitive, such as the soft underarm and the foot.
2. Do you sterilize your needles?
One needle/one person. All my needles are brand new, sterilized and vacuum sealed. When you get a tattoo from me, you will see me open the new needle pack in front of you so that there can be no doubt about its sterility. In addition, all tubes are sterilized via an autoclave and ink, ink caps, rubber bands, cellophane barriers and gloves are only used once and then thrown away after each use.
3. Do I need to wait until the end of my trip to get tattooed?
Absolutely not. In fact, often what happens when people wait until the end of their trip and then they are too sunburned to even get tattooed! I actually tattoo most people at the start of their trip and it is never a problem. The saltwater is actually healing for your tattoo.
4. Can I swim afterwards?
Yes to lagoon, No to swimming pool. Most people getting an average-sized tattoo will have no problem going in the lagoon. In fact, ancient Tahitians used to go into the lagoon immediately after receiving a tattoo in order to speed healing. I do however recommend you use a healing ointment such as tamanu oil, A&D or Biafine and rinse with fresh water after swimming.
5. Can I go in the sun?
The sun will not ruin your tattoo but it is best to keep it protected as your skin will be sensitive and a sunburn on top of a tattoo would be painful. Again, I advise applying a healing ointment to your tattoo such as locally made tamanu oil, Biafine or A&D.
6. Do you do colored tattoos?
Though I have used colored inks while doing tattoos in Europe, I do not do colored tattoos here in Moorea. The reason being that tattoos in Tahiti are traditionally made only with black ink and I prefer to follow tradition.
7. How much does it cost?
First I need to know if you are thinking about a regular tattoo made with a modern tattoo machine or a tattoo made traditionally with the ancient tools.
• Regular Tattoo Prices:
The starting price for a regular tattoo is approximately 15,000xpf (about $150 USD). On average, I would say people spend about $350-500 USD for a regular tattoo.
• Traditional Polynesian Tattoo Prices:
The starting price for a traditional tattoo is 60,000xpf (about $600 USD). The reason for the difference in price has to do with the amount of labor involved. First, I have to make the traditional tools. I usually use wild boar tusk. Making the tools is time consuming and the tools I make for you, are only for you. In addition, I need to hire an assistant to hold your skin flat while I tattoo. I would say most people spend about $1000-1200 on a traditional tattoo.
Whichever method you choose, the price is calculated on the size of the tattoo and the amount of detail involved. Keep in mind, Tahiti & Her Islands are the birthplace of tattoo. You can always find someone willing to do a tattoo for less. Just be sure to ask the important questions about their equipment and rules of hygiene. Also make sure they are capable of doing the kind of tattoo you want.
8. How long does it take?
The size and detail determine the time needed to do a tattoo. Having said that, I can do a small tattoo in as little as 5 minutes. I would say the average tattoo takes about 20-60 minutes. Traditional tattoos can take up to double the amount of time.
9. Is it safe?
Yes. It is important you go to a tattooist who follows strict rules of hygiene. First impressions go a long way. Does the tattoo studio/work space look clean? Are brand new sterilized needles used? Ask to see the needle pack opened in front of you so that there can be no doubt about its sterility. Ask how tubes are sterilized? They should be sterilized via an autoclave. In addition ink, ink caps, rubber bands, cellophane barriers and gloves should only be used once then thrown away after each use.
10. Is there something I should put on the tattoo to speed healing?
I recommend a healing ointment such as tamanu oil, A&D, or a product called Biafine that you can get at the pharmacy here in Moorea. I do not recommend antibiotic ointments such as Neosporin, as they produce a chemical reaction with the tattoo that actually makes it more painful.
11. Would it help to drink or take pain killers before a tattoo?
No. Things like alcohol and aspirin can thin your blood, causing excessive bleeding.
12. Do you use Flash?
In the U.S. it is common to have the tattoo design made on a piece of paper and then transferred on to your body. This is called flash. The tattoo is made by tracing over the design and then filling it in. I do not do this. Everything I do is free hand. I will also tell you that every tattoo I do is one-of-a-kind. I like to use the ancient symbols to create tattoos that have significance and personal meaning unique to each person.
13. Are all tattoo artists the same?
No, they are not. You need to feel comfortable with your tattoo artist. You will likely have a vision in mind or you may want certain symbolism in your tattoo. You need to feel comfortable to communicate with the tattooist. Ask to see photos of their work. Many tattoo artists will show you drawings that are copies of other peoples work. It is important you see actual photos of their work to really get a sense of their capabilities.
14. What forms of payment do you accept?
I accept cash (USD, XPF, Euro) and credit cards (MC, Visa, Amx,) via PayPal.