Amanda Rodriguez is a world-renowned tattoo artist and main operator of Three Kings London, The New York born business is hugely respected in the tattoo community, attracting high-profile names to its four locations in the USA and brand collaborations with the likes of Calvin Klein, Nike, Rag ’n' Bone and more.
Tattoos are more widely accepted in society than ever and more people are looking to show off their individuality with a piece of body art. However, something many vegans may not have considered is that the tattooing process with its many moving parts, isn’t always entirely vegan friendly. Three Kings London aims to create a welcoming culture making world-class body artwork available for all. Thus they are one of the growing number of studios around the world offering a Vegan Tattoo Procedure.
If you’re a vegan and are thinking about a new piece of artwork, here’s seven things tattoo artist Amanda Rodriguez thinks you should know about getting a vegan tattoo.
If being cruelty free is of paramount importance to you, enquire early about this in the process before committing to an artist or tattoo parlour. The UK is home to many world class artists and most will try and accommodate you - but don’t assume that because a studio has a great reputation that it will have a completely vegan option available and this is something you may have to weigh up.
There’s more to it than just using ‘vegan ink’.
That’s because to ensure that the entire process is as vegan friendly and cruelty free as possible, you have to look at the entire process from start to finish.
- Stencil application - stencil paper is often made from lanolin, derived from sheep’s wool.
- Ink - tattoo ink in general is completely safe and has been used to countless years as a way of permanently marking skin - it’s not necessarily ‘safer’ to use vegan ink. Most top ink brands are vegan friendly nowadays but historically they could contain bone char, glycerin, gelatine, or insect parts.
- Soap - good hygiene practice is absolutely integral in any reputable tattoo studio. The area of skin to be tattooed will need washing and shaving, so vegan friendly soap and gelatine strip free razors would be ideal.
- Skin cleaning (during tattoo) - brands like Dettol for example are vegan but tested on animals.
- Aftercare ointment - essential part of looking after your tattooing the days following.
Caring for your vegan tattoo is the same as a non-vegan tattoo.
Tattoos require a level of aftercare, with the first five days being crucial. This will involve covering your tattoo to prevent infection and using an ointment to make sure it heals properly and doesn’t dry out - which will causing scabbing and the ink to fall out.
As an artist, safety is of the utmost importance to me - so I opt to use medical grade coverings like Tegaderm, this also means submerging water is not an issue. However, some ointments like A&D or specific tattoo aftercare products contain beeswax or lanolin. Soy butter is Three Kings Tattoos’ chosen vegan alternative to make sure your artwork heals nicely and lasts.
You shouldn’t have to choose between getting the artwork you want, but you may have to make some concessions.
You will hopefully have picked a studio because you love the quality of their work. At Three Kings we have a community of in house world class artists and regular guest artists who who can take on any style or project. More and more studios are starting to offer this vegan process, but tattoos are very personal, require thought and are a life long commitment! It is important to find an artist you like and feel comfortable with - if you’re looking for a particular style they specialise in for example but their preferred disinfectant is Dettol or they have a preferred stencilling process - should that stop you getting the artwork you love?
It might not be always realistic for every aspect for every artist to be vegan - so feel free to ask the question and remember go into this knowing that there may some be compromise, and that’s ok.
You new tattoo might need touch ups in the future.
This is not unique to vegan tattooing but many people don’t often realise is that tattoos will inevitably fade and change over time to an extent. Depending on the size and style of the tattoo, i.e. if it has thin line-work, you might need to get certain parts redone in time.
It’s just as hard to remove a vegan tattoo as it is a regular tattoo.
Unfortunately choosing ink with zero animal products doesn’t make the ink any less permanent. If in 10 years you decide you’re not as in love with your new tattoo as you thought you were, it will require the same amount of laser treatment to remove as regular ink. So make sure you go to a reputable studio, with an artist you trust before you make that commitment.
You can follow Amanda Rodriguez at her instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amandatattoos
and Three Kings London at: https://www.instagram.com/threekingslondon
THREE KINGS LONDON Address: Three Kings Tattoo, 182 Deptford High St, SE8 3PR Artists: Amanda Rodriguez, Joe Macigno, Alex McWatt plus regular world-renowned guest artists.