Tattoos have been around for thousands of years. In fact, the discovery of tattoos on mummified flesh provides strong proof that tattooing is an old art form. The earliest tattooed human remains are thought to date from 3370 BC to 3100 BC.

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Otzi the Iceman was discovered in September 1991. This guy's body was naturally mummified and preserved, making him Europe’s oldest human mummy.

Otzi’s body has 61 tattoos in various different locations. Close examination of the markings indicate that soot or fireplace ash were used to create the tattoos.

While Otzi may be evidence of the first tattoos known to mankind, other eras and ages throughout history reveal a long and rich history of tattooing.

Tattoos are an inherent part of some cultures. In the Western world, it has taken time for decorative ink to become socially acceptable. It’s really only in the last fifty years that tattoos have become popular and mainstream.

Tattoos have come a long way -- and are now accepted by a majority of Americans. In fact, according to a recent survey, 32% of Americans over the age of 18 have a tattoo. 22% have more than one. The Pew Research survey finds that 38% of women have a tattoo, compared to 27% of men. Nearly half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 49 now have at least one tattoo.

As for why people get inked, 69% say it's to remember or honor someone or something. 47% say it's to make a statement about something they believe in, and 32% just like how it looks. 24% of inked Americans say they regret getting a particular tattoo. Of those who have no tattoos at all, 85% say they will never get one.

I have tattoos. Not as many as Otzi-yet!  I currently have 39 including 3 cosmetic tattoos (eyeliner, lip blushing & rainbow freckles). I get tattoos to tell my personal story. I'm using my body is a canvas for artwork.

I got my first tattoo when I was 20 (a dolphin). My friend Laurie and I were in Minneapolis and we chose the tattoo shop because we thought it had a cool name-Mystic Moon Tattoo. Not the greatest criteria!

Whether you have many tattoos or are just thinking about getting your first, it's important to choose the right artist. I suggest checking out tattoo artists social media pics to get a feel for their style. You should definitely visit the tattoo shop, take a look around. Artists usually have portfolios of their past work that you can look through. If they aren't busy take time to visit with the tattoo artist.

You should also ask to see their licenses. Tattoos may only be performed in licensed tattoo shops. Body art facilities are required to display their license in a prominent location. Your chosen tattoo artist should also have a license.

Did you know Upper Missouri District Health Unit in Williston licenses tattoo artists?

Make sure the tattoo artist and body piercer you are going to has a current license from UMDHU if you are in Divide, McKenzie, Mountrail or Williams Counties. This assures they have the training and processes they need to prevent blood borne illnesses. If you have questions call UMDHU at 701-774-6400.

Another piece of advice, follow the after-care directions given to you by the tattoo artist or body piercer. Proper care and cleaning afterwards is essential in the healing process. Most piercings take months to heal.

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