Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

The life you save may be your own

November 8th, 2008 by

Over the last thirteen years, I’ve noticed some things about tattoo that seem to possess a certain universal truth.  Some people would refer to this as common sense, but for others it may well save them from calamity.  For instance, joke tattoos only work for the heavily tattooed or folks in the industry (who are usually heavily tattooed).  If you don’t have a fairly high percentage of coverage but you insisted on getting an admittedly silly tattoo because you thought it’d be funny I have news for you, jokes get old but tattoos are forever, you’ll just look like a jackass.  This also goes for tattoos on necks, hands, and faces, if you already have a ton of tattoos this just seems to be a natural progression, you’re running out of space.  If you want your first tattoo on your hand or neck, please be aware that you’ll just end up looking like an asshole (matter of fact, I won’t render such a tattoo).

Tattoo selection should be centered around something that will stand your own personal test of time.  For instance for all those people who got swept up in the election fervor and got a Barack Obama tattoo:  What if he turns out to be a douchenozzle of the highest calibre?  The point is, if part of your tattoo selection process involves “I could always have it removed” your logic is seriously flawed and you might want to consider doing something a little less permanent with your time, like VOTING in the Obama scenario.

Personal pet peeve:  No names except kids and dead people.  Why?  You can be sure that your kids are going to piss you off and dead people can’t anymore (usually).  I’ve had people come into the shop to get their wife’s/husband’s/boy/girlfriend’s name tattooed on them, listen to my little lecture about what a bad idea this turns out to be (it’s cursed), and get the tattoo anyway, only to come back less than a week later to get the thing covered up.  I guess there’s something to say for job security but hell…

Tattooing as decoration is fine, really it is.  This idea gave birth to the entire tribal phenomena where the piece itself wasn’t representative of anything, it simply existed to look cool and accentuate the body, flow being one of the most important aspects of a tattoo allowed this genre of tattoo to take hold of a large part of the culture itself to the point where there are now ‘best tribal’ categories at conventions.  So I really have no problem with tattoo as strictly a decorative device, really.  However, realize that while your tattoo will stay the same (same subject matter and composition) know that your body will change.  So when you ladies decide to get flaming cherries on your bikini line, know that someday those same cherries will become burnt raisins.  So just to set the record straight, tattoo as tinsel is fine, but substance is better.

Other things to avoid or at least seriously consider before getting that new tattoo:

Don’t get the same tattoo as your BFF, that’s pretty much the complete opposite of what tattoo is all about.

There is no fucking such thing as an original heart, star, or kanji tattoo unless all of these are composed within the context of a Mexican donkey show, period.

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, why would you get a picture of a word tattooed on you?  Think about it.

If you just decided to get a tattoo today, you probably shouldn’t get tattooed today.

If you’re not sure you want to get a tattoo because you “just don’t know if I want something on my body forever” don’t expect me to try to give you the balls to do it.  If you want a tattoo, get a tattoo, if you don’t, get a haircut or a new pair of shoes, that way you can still feel good about yourself without making me want to gouge out both of my eyes.

I’m not writing these things to sound like some sort of tattoo nazi.  I’m writing because I’ve seen all of these scenarios multiple times throughout my career as a tattooer and my life as a collector.  I love what I do and hate the idea of someone ever regretting their tattoos.  One of the best ways to prevent this is by pointing out that while there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to selecting a tattoo, experience can teach us which paths may lead in a negative direction.  Avoiding these pitfalls will hopefully lead to a long and fulfilling journey in your life with tattoos.  Next week, a funny little story about how not to get your ass kicked by your tattoo artist and some tips on cultivating the best tattoo you can.  I hope this finds you in good health.


Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.