I am getting a tattoo next Tuesday (eeee!) and did a little research to make sure that I found an artist who offered vegan ink. I ended up going with Suzanna Fisher at Damask Tattoo here in Seattle.
When I talked to the artist, she told me that most tattoo inks are made with an animal-derived glycerin, but the kind she uses has a plant-derived glycerin.
I have also heard from other sources that some black inks are made with bone char (burnt animal bones) and shellac.
Damask is a really cool place because the owner tries really hard to make everything as environmentally friendly as possible. Here's the quote from the website:
"It would seem that a tattoo studio would be an unlikely candidate as a green-focused business, but this is not an average tattoo studio. Damask Tattoo and Permanent Cosmetics uses plant-based, petroleum-free after-care products and tattoo session balms. I used to use straight petroleum jelly or other ointments during the tattoo process, and recommended petroleum-based after-care, until I learned that petroleum is very harmful to our skin. It coats the skin making it unable to breathe, makes it sticky so it clogs pores, attracts dust and dirt, and can actually increase the risk for skin cancer—also, it comes from a non-renewable resource. Once these things were brought to my attention, I started looking into the other products that were being used in the process and started making changes. I found a small local business, Black Creek Botanicals, that has worked for years with tattoo artists to develop tattoo products that are not only petroleum-free and plant-based, but are the best products that I have ever used, hands-down. I also spent some time researching sunscreens for protecting tattoos from fading due to UV exposure. I found a great company called Soleo Organics, and now have their sunscreen available in my store. Then I took it a step further—I offer vegan ink as an alternative option to the standard tattoo inks. The studio itself is in a professional building alongside naturopaths,acupuncturists, chiropractors, and a massage therapist. Decorated with antique, salvaged, and reused furniture, we approach green with an ornate Victorian flair. We provide a discreet salon-style experience and a patient and empathetic approach with our clients. We have private tattoo rooms where we do custom tattoos that compliment the body’s natural shape and embody the vision of the wearer. We offer permanent cosmetics that are soft and natural, all the way down to individual hair-stroke eyebrows. Imagine never buying chemical-laced and overpackaged cosmetics again, but retaining the enhancing effects that makeup can offer. It’s truly a joy for me to know that I’m doing what I can to reduce the chemicals that my clients and I come into contact with, and reducing the demand for those products overall. I’m very excited with the direction we’ve taken with Damask Tattoo, and look forward to progressing even further into the world of green in the future."
It's really cool to find a tattoo place that cares so much about the environment. :-]
I also asked the artist if it costs more for me to choose vegan ink. It doesn't! I don't have to pay anything more than the expected amount for a vegan-friendly tattoo than for a cruelty-friendly tattoo. So exciting!
I will post pictures later of the finished product, but here's the sketch she drew for me last week:
There will be some blues and pinks involved in the final product, and it's going to be tattooed right underneath my left collarbone.