Back in Fineline Tattoos today – working on a piece of pig skin, this time.
This is my first pig skin tattoo (although it appears to be the pig’s second…), and it’s a lot easier to learn on than artificial skin. The problem with the artificial skin is that it simply doesn’t behave like real skin at all. So it’s fine for initially coming to grips with the gun, but it’s useless when you need to learn how ink and skin behave together. Practising on living volunteers is fine, too – you learn how to work with a living, feeling (ouch!) person. But because you’ve got to wait for the skin to heal before you see the results, there’s an odd lag between doing the work and seeing what it looks like. That makes judging your technique as a beginner really difficult.
But pig skin doesn’t just behave like real skin – it is real skin. Not only does it stretch as real skin stretches, it holds the ink as real skin does, too. But because it doesn’t bleed, it means that there’s no healing “lag”, meaning that you can practice your lines and actually judge real results.
Of course, it’s not perfect. It doesn’t have the deep resilience of living skin with muscle and bone beneath it, and it’s tougher than human skin. And because it’s cold from the fridge, it’s kind of creepy to work on. And despite being chilled, on a warm June day, with a lamp on the table, the lump of skin soon begins to develop an indefinable butchers’ shop aroma of its very own…