Arriving on the Red Eye

Well, well, it seems that Brazil’s population of eyeball tattoos has just jumped dramatically in the last week, with Emilio Gonzalez having done a handful of them, and also Rafael Leão Dias of Dhar-Shan in Jundiaí, who did the striking red eye pictured below that’s going to leave nineteen year old Mary Jo with a life of assuring people she hasn’t been injured. As I’ve said many times, I really like colored eye tattoos a lot.

I know I’m sounding like a broken record on this point, but I think it’s justified — I really implore people to exercise extreme caution and respect with this particular mod. For example, if a practitioner wants to forge ahead and isn’t interested in playing it safe and waiting until the procedure has been thoroughly developed and training is available, I’d really really urge them to use a similar learning curve to Howie five years ago — do a number of small single test injections and get an understanding of the anatomy and how it behaves with the smallest amount of damage. With eye tattoos, remember too that less is more. You want to inject the absolute minimum amount of ink you can get away with — the more ink, the more risk. Do not underestimate the effect it will have on someone’s life if something goes wrong. Hell, even if everything goes right, don’t treat this lightly — be sure that your client is mature enough (and I’m not saying that a teenager can’t make drastic permanent life-altering decisions — that’s got to be handled case-by-base) to understand that if they do this, they will never, ever, ever have a normal life.

Given how many people — even people inside the piercing industry — are having stretched ears reversed, I have real serious concerns about the regret train that could come smashing into us in ten years over eye tattoos (and that’s assuming that it’s as safe as I believe it is and there’s no larger apocalypse). Stretched ears have a very minimal impact on ones social and public life when compared to eyeball tattoos. I’m not telling anyone not to do these things. It would be silly and hypocritical for me to do so. Personally I think eyeball tattoos are awesome. But more than any other modification, I hope that people treat it with respect and caution. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that because I think they look amazing and you think they look amazing that the world agrees with us. The world thinks we’re fucked in the head for doing this, and I don’t see them changing their mind on that any time soon. And, if eventually they beat us down and make us regret it, guess what? Too bad. This tattoo can’t be lasered off. If you hit the ink particles with a laser, the body can not remove the broken down bits. And you certainly can’t excise the tattoo surgically without destroying the eye. Regrets be damned, because this is for life.

Rafael also posted a video of himself doing the eye tattoo that I posted yesterday. Please, do not treat this video as a “how to”. If anything, note how incredibly differently the first injection and second injection behave — the margin for error in this procedure is extremely slim, and unfortunately the only way to figure it out at present is trial and error because the procedure is still being refined and is still experimental. You can’t sign up for a class in it at the next APP convention. So it’s almost certain that every practitioner that throws their hat into the ring is going to mess up some eyes — over-injection, lumpy eyes, various sorts of damage, aesthetic shortcomings, facial stains, and perhaps even serious injury. Different types of tattoo ink respond very differently (for example, UV ink has responded badly in some people). Again, trial and error. In a perfect world, people would seek out experienced practitioners, and practitioners seeking to add this to their roster would seek out training from those with years of experience. But unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world. Just remember, if you may a mistake on an eye, it’s not like a piercing or an implant or a normal tattoo — there’s no rewind button. You can’t go back. You can’t go to someone and have it reversed. It’s for life. No going back, whether you get it perfect or whether something goes wrong.

Awright, time to break out the ink syringe!

6 thoughts on “Arriving on the Red Eye

  1. It will be interesting to see where this goes in a few years. It would be interesting to get an eye (you can get them from several biological supply companies) do the procedure on it and cross section the eye after. Something that I found interesting are the pictures you posted a little while ago of the discoloration of the skin under the eye. Also, I wonder if the ink changes the intraoccular pressure at all? With more and more people doing this it will be very interesting to see how society reacts. I see younger people working jobs with 1″ plus earlobes. Back when I started strectching my ears that would have been unheard of!

  2. I love the red on her it really looks great next to her pale skin & dark hair…I would love to see a front view shot of this beautys eye tattoo. Nice post Shannon.

  3. Wow. I realize this is a couple years old, but I want to compliment everyone on a terrific and civil conversation. Great post, great rationale, great comments.

    Information is power, and rhetoric is a spice best used sparingly. This post does all comers a service and should be referred to. I am anti-tattoo, but think the author did a GREAT job of being subjective and letting the reader decide.

    I believe that if everyone who got a tattoo (eye or even less-sensitive) had this kid of information from the get-go, there would be less opinion that body art is beneath them. It’s my opinion that the ability to articulate the risks and the ramifications will be what differentiates the Art from the Cult.

    I wish you nothing but happiness and the best of luck.

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