Jan 27, 2011

What kind of tattoo should I get?

This question appears on tattoo related message boards all across the net, and typing “what kind of tattoo should i get?” into Google will get you over 37,000 results. The simple answer for anyone who feels the need to ask that question to a group of total strangers is, “You shouldn’t.”.

The web is an absolutely wonderful resource for tattoo related advice. When seeking out a reputable shop, a great artist, or just looking for information on what to expect during and after your tattoo, a message board related to your topic of interest can be an invaluable source of information. But asking people who don’t even know you what type of tattoo you should get just seems crazy to me. If you cannot decide on your own, or with the help of the people you know and trust in real life, why on earth do you want to put your fate in the hands of a bunch of total strangers on an internet forum?

One recent thread I saw posted on a popular tattoo forum was this:

“mom hates tatts but i want to have one: since i was a kid i really wanted to have tattoos on my body,i think guys with tatts are cool but sad to say my mom would kill me if she finds out i had it on me,where should i place my tattoo to hide it?”


Let’s break down his question a little further. “mom hates tatts but i want to have one…” This obviously screams of immaturity. If you are scared that your mommy is going to find out about your tattoo, you should probably think twice about getting one in the first place. You should be proud of your ink and want people to see it, especially family and friends.

“i think guys with tatts are cool…” This is even more powerful a statement to me. Getting a tattoo because you think it will make you cool is one of the worst reasons I could possibly think of to permanently mark your body. No matter how many tattoos you get, you will will never be as cool as this guy.

Finally, “where should i place my tattoo to hide it?” Is this really a question that needs asking? With even the tiniest bit of thought and common sense, you would be able to answer this question on your own. Are you not intelligent enough to determine a location of your body that won’t be visible when you are around your mother? Let me give you a hint.

Another member recently posted this question:

“im a member of a hardcore band and it seems all my friends had there tattoos already and i had been enticed to get one for free i am wondering where should i place my first tatts?any suggestions guys”

Again, getting a tattoo because all of his friends have them and he probably thinks it will make him cool. But the real red flags for me are the use of the words “enticed” and “free” and the obvious misuse of “there”. Enticed and free are 2 words should never be used when speaking of reasons to go out and get a tattoo. If you need convincing from friends that you want or need a tattoo, you really are not ready to make that decision. Free tattoos are usually asking for trouble. If it’s a reputable shop, you can expect to pay good money for your ink. If it’s a basement scratcher, you are very likely to get a crappy tattoo and if you are lucky you will walk away free of infection, bad scarring or one of the many fun diseases that are transmitted through infected equipment.

Bad tattoos come in many forms. There are technically bad pieces, shaky line work, uneven shading, bad proportion, inconsistent depth, or just look like they were drawn by a kindergarten student. Then there are tattoos that may be of excellent technical quality, but are in poor taste, placed in areas that the owner may regret, or part of the growing trend of turning belly buttons into cat asses.

It’s no wonder that sites like Ugliest Tattoos are popping up all over the place to showcase them. My personal favorites are the spelling errors. If you were dumb enough to allow someone to tattoo you with such a blatant misspelling, you deserve to be juged by god, all of the angles and everyone who is now laughing at your pictures that are being spread around the net.

There is just no excuse to walk out of a tattoo shop with a misspelled tattoo. You have so many chances to catch the mistake before it’s too late. Even a freehand tattoo is normally drawn onto your body using markers before the tattoo is started. Between the artist, the client and whoever else may be in the room, nobody knew how to spell words like judge, angels or tomorrow? If your artist is not capable of reading or writing the English language, bring a dictionary to your appointment, look it up any questionable words online or just run away screaming and find another artist.

A few years from now and these people will be helping to pay the mortgages of laser tattoo removal technicians across the country. Tattoo removal is more painful and more expensive than the tattooing process itself. Keep that in mind before even setting foot in a tattoo shop.

I don’t claim to be an expert on tattoos or on human psychology, but all it takes is a little bit of common sense to prevent doing something that you are going to regret for the rest of your life.

4 Comments

  • the guy with the “juge” mispelling looks so young! My God…he can’t be more than 17!

  • I was wondering if you knew any good websites to find good shops. I’m planning to get a tattoo a little after christmas (my 18 birthday) and I want to know I have a good artist who will be proffesional and not make me regret this…anyways! I live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and any reccomendations would be much appreciated!

    • Most artists put their portfolio online, so the best thing you can do is to check out the websites of all the shops in your area. If you have a specific style of tattoo that you are looking for, try to find an artist who specializes in that style.

      You can also try review sites like yelp.com, or look for a good tattoo discussion forum and post the question there. thetattooforum.com is probably a good one to start with. There are lots of active members from all different locations who can offer suggestions.

      Just don’t take someone’s word that an artist is good. People may try to steer you to their own shop or a friends shop, even if it’s not the best place for you.

  • i have seen so many different styles of tattoos an have seen people get them for many reasons i have designed tattoos to desire what the person wants i m only young but have been designeing tattoos since i was 11 i have been trying yto get into the bussiness of tattooing but i have many more things to do i have had old artists ask about my art if i copy sketch free hand . i free hand all my drawings an designs from my mind i have my own design tattooed up my left ribcage

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