If you like the thrill of driving a motorcycle at warp speed down a crowded highway, just narrowly missing side view mirrors and the back side of dump trucks, you may like the idea of adding motorcycle exhaust and tire rubber to your tattoo ink. This probably won’t be a trend or new fashion craze that sweeps social media, but that is only because the supply of this ink is limited. According to Vice, only 10 bottles of the ink exist, and they are being sold for $9,000 each. Stories about this unconventional ink first started surfacing when Cory Hart, a professional motorcycle rider, got a tattoo using Indian Motorcycle Ink. For those who don’t know, Indian Motorcycle was the first American motorcycle company.
When I heard that motorcycle exhaust and burnt rubber were ingredients in the ink, my first thought was: how long until this causes health problems? I do not associate fossil fuel exhaust from a combustion engine with something I would want inside of my body. However, I think it is too early to speculate on the safety of the product; there is not enough data out there to draw a conclusion. Therefore, I’ll just offer two viewpoints. First, the tattoo artist and ink maker Franco Vescovi claims that it is safe. He says the toxins have been removed in a lab, and the leftover carbon is sterilized. On the other hand, medical doctor Gary Goldenberg warns against it. As a doctor of dermatology he brings up a few points. Most alarming is when he says, “It’s not just about the substance itself; sometimes when you put chemicals together, one plus one doesn’t equal two. You can have a reaction that you may not have with just one chemical.” So you have to worry about allergic reactions, and the possibility that an unknown chemical is making its way into your bloodstream. That is a little disturbing, but he also brings up another point. If you ever want the tattoo removed, the lasers work much better with a substance they recognize. There are doubts as to how well lasers can remove tattoos made with newer tattoo inks. For example, UV inks that glow under black lights and memorial tattoos made with inks containing cremated ashes might not be easily removed.
One thing is certain — neither Cory Hart or the rapper 2 Chainz were deterred by the relative lack of evidence regarding the safety of the ink, nor the possible inability to remove it. So the ink must be really cool, right? The ink is made from the rubber that is left on the ground from one of Cory Hart’s burnouts. After spinning his tires and accumulating some rubber, his tattoo artist Franco Vescovi gathers the rubber and puts it in a vial. Afterward, Vescovi swabs exhaust to obtain the carbon synthesized by the Indian engine. Then through a process involving fire, the material is transformed into a powder and added to tattoo ink, creating a bottle of Indian Motorcycle tattoo ink.
If this is something that piques your interest, and you can afford the ink, you may want to keep an eye on Cory Hart’s and 2 Chainz’s health over the next couple of years before deciding this is right for you. All joking aside, the safety of using an ink like this is unknown, but that is probably what draws people to it in the first place. Kind of like riding a motorcycle, there is a thrill associated with the unknown and living on the edge. So if you are as diehard about motorcycles as Cory Hart, now you can prove it.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of PainfulPleasures.