Last night I net a guy who was covered in tattoos. He was an aspiring tattoo artist and has actually tattooed a few of my friends. I have three tattoos currently, with plans to get quite a few more. When I tell people about the tattoos I want or that I’m hoping to have many, I always get people who try to tell me it’s a bad idea. Why? It’s my body and if I want to decorate it, I can. My ears aren’t pierced, but if you feel okay putting holes in your body, go ahead. My favorite thing to hear is “just make sure they’re hidden. You don’t want to be unemployed because of your mistakes.” Um, ok. Well, I don’t have tattoos covering my face, nor do I plan to. None of my tattoos include curse words, drugs, drinking, nudity, etc. I have a sunflower, a peace sign, and a dragonfly. Pretty non-controversial and in all honesty, suitable for any workplace. Just because my doctor has a tattoo of a skull on his arm, doesn’t mean he isn’t the best cardiac surgeon out there. If you’re stupid enough to think that having an employee with tattoos will hurt your business, I don’t want to work for you anyway, so no worries about not hiring me. I currently have two tattoos that are visible at work. One is on my neck behind my ear and the other on my wrist. I’ve never gotten a single complaint. Compliments, tons. Complaints, zero. So, all you judgmental people out there need to loosen up and realize you’re not any better than someone with ink.
Here’s another thing that irritates me about my tattoos. People always ask me why I got them. What’s your story behind that? Oh, I don’t know. I like sunflowers, so I got one. You like earrings so you got your ears pierced. No story there. These shows like LA Ink and Miami Ink and whatever Ink always have people who come in with some elaborate story as to why they’re getting a walrus driving a speedboat tattooed on their stomach. You don’t need a story. As my tattoo artist, Al, told me, “People who have stories about their tattoos are bullshitting me half the time. You don’t need to make up a story about why you’re getting what you want. Just get it. Stop trying to give yourself justification. Tattoos aren’t bad. You don’t have to justify them. If you feel like you NEED to, you probably shouldn’t ask me to ink you, because that’s not how it should be.” So when people ask me why I have a dragonfly made of three birds on my foot, I simply respond with “I love dragonflies and this was a cool way to draw one.” Simple. It doesn’t need to mean anything or symbolize anything or be anything.
Tattoos are permanent, we all know that. It’s on you for life, it’s probably the only thing I’ve ever been okay with committing to. It’s something you chose, designed, whatever. You love it. Someone asks to see it and calls it stupid. Low blow, man, low blow. Sure, tell me my shirt is stupid or even my haircut, but my tattoo? That’s like someone telling you your rhinoplasty looks moronic. Even if the tattoo is stupid, why would you straight up tell someone that? I’ve heard it, I’ve been victim to it, and it isn’t a good feeling at all. Even though I love my tattoos and I don’t think any of them look stupid, when someone chastises you for it, it’s going to stir up either anger, sadness, or a combination of the two, even if it’s only for a minute. It’s about being respectful more than it is about hurting someone’s feelings. If someone wants to get their tattoo removed or covered up because someone said it was stupid, maybe you shouldn’t have gotten that at all if you’re that easily swayed into hating it, BUT even if what was said isn’t taken to heart, even if the tattoo is awful or is something you would never get, don’t use it as an excuse to bring someone else down. You don’t have to lie and compliment it, but don’t be outright rude.
On that note, let’s have a quick grammar lesson. Your = possessive. “Your dog is fat.” You’re = you are. “You’re fat.” Everyone should know this, especially if you’re old enough to get tattooed. At 18, the proper use of “there”, “their”, and “there” should be something you know without having to think about, especially if one of these words is in your tattoo. I know FOUR people with tattoos that have grammatical errors…FOUR DIFFERENT PEOPLE. Did you not read the template before it was put on you? Did you not think to make sure everything was spelled correctly and the grammar was pristine? My next tattoo is a quotation, and I am going to proofread that thing before it goes on me so many times, my artist might want to kill me (even though I completely trust Al, he’s never steered me or anyone I’ve sent to him wrong). Tattoos are for life, try to make sure you get the spelling right.
To conclude, here is my list of Do’s and Dont’s for tattooing:
DO think about it before you go. Placement, what you want, how you want it. At least have a general idea. Most artists can work with you on design or placement, but if you go in saying “I want a flower, I don’t know which kind or where” they might just tell you to come back when you have a better idea.
DON’T get what you want the second you figure it out. Let it marinate for a bit. If you still want it in a week or two, go for it, but if you do it on a whim and next week hate it, you’re screwed.
DO bring your own design, whether you drew it yourself or snatched a picture from Google, and see if your artist can tweak it to make it unique. You don’t want to pick something off the wall and run into six people who have the same *exact* tattoo.
DON’T get someone’s name tattooed on you. Exceptions are children and anyone who is deceased. I don’t care how much you love them, a tattoo isn’t the way to show it. Removal is painful and not always 100% and coverup jobs can be expensive.
DO research on the care and keeping of tattoos. If you’re on a swim team, get your tattoo done when you don’t swim every day, if you work in the sun make sure it can be covered, etc. If your tattoo isn’t taken care of, it can get infected or not heal properly and lead to a big mess.
DON’T get wasted first. I guarantee you and legitimate tattoo place will not tattoo a person who has been drinking for many reasons, including health related ones.
DO visit the place you are getting your tattoo done before hand. You want to meet your artist, get pricing, and set up a tattoo appointment. Most tattoos take some time to finish, even small ones, and many places do not do drop ins.
DON’T bargain hunt. This is not an area where you want to try to cut a deal. Tattoos are expensive and trying to haggle will not go off well. Be prepared for the cost, even for a small piece, because most tattoo shops have a minimum everyone must pay.
DO tip! If the artist did a good job, tip them. Even if your piece was hundreds of dollars, they still put in the work and managed to not mess up. Tattooing isn’t easy and had your artist messed up, you’d be screwed for life. Also-tattoos can be addicting, so if you’re going back for more and you tipped well, you’re more likely to be treated well.
DON’T bring an entire posse to get your tattoo done. Some places don’t even allow one guest to sit with you while you’re being inked. Think of it this way: the fewer distractions for your tattoo artist, the better.
DO relax. If you’re nervous about your tattoo, maybe you shouldn’t get one. I was PUMPED to get mine and you should be excited too. If not, maybe you just need to wait until you’re more comfortable.