Tragic Mistakes #13: Bad Tattoos

Your children are the cutest! How long have they been members of the living dead?

Your children are the cutest! How long have they been members of the living dead?

Now that tattoos are becoming mainstream and television is starting to look their way, I think it’s time we discussed some of the tragic mistakes people make in getting a tattoo. I’ve had a few of them myself, though I typically don’t share them over the internet. Am I afraid some of them will show up on a bad tattoo site? Possibly. I’m more afraid of someone stealing one of the good ones, though. It’s really a lose/lose situation, as far as I’m concerned. Today, though, we’re going to delve deep into the subject of people who get tattoos without actually thinking about what they’re doing. I would suggest never buying a tattoo on impulse as the biggest rule. If you wait six months, then a year, and you still want it then it’s probably something you won’t live to regret. The other main piece of advice I have is that all artists are not created even close to equal. All the kids you knew who could draw in art class were fairly good, but were they good enough that you’d put one of their drawings on your body forever? Likely not. There were only a few artists, or maybe only one or zero, who you would trust that much and whose work inspired you that strongly. It’s the same way in the tattoo world. Look at portfolios, ask how long someone’s been working, Don’t Get A Discount.

Not only did someone let this happen to them, they actually paid good money for it.

Not only did someone let this happen to them, they actually paid good money for it.

“Oh man, I got a sweet discount on my tattoo!” is something that will always make me cringe. I mentioned, a long time ago, in my glasses blog, that you should never buy something cheap that you’re going to be wearing on your face for the next many months and years. Tattoos last even longer. Spend the money to go to a good shop and see a real artist. Look at these horror shows that are distributed throughout this blog and ask yourself, “Would I be happier with that tattoo if I found out that it cost me less money than it would have otherwise?” If the answer is still in the negative region then you’re starting to get an idea of what I’m saying. There are things in life to shop for a discount for. A permanent piece of artwork on your skin is not one of them. The thing is, you either have to live that terrible tattoo down or you have to pay even more money to get it fixed by someone with talent. You’re only saving in the short term. You’re only fooling yourself.

I actually saw that the person got this one fixed up. Thank goodness.

I actually saw that the person got this one fixed up. Thank goodness.

Getting a portrait done? Great idea. They look amazing and it’s a really good way to honour a person or character you really admire. Did you know there are tattoo artists who specialize in doing portraits? There are. Did you know that a lot of people who are really good artists don’t like to do portraits because they’re not good at them? Find a portrait artist for the love of Moses. They cost a lot of money and you have to wait a long time? Doesn’t that just mean your tattoo is that much rarer and more worth it? If you look for bad tattoos online you will notice that bad portraits take up a vast majority of those inflictions upon the eyes. They’re very difficult to do. Find someone who has done a thousand of them and look at their work. Does it look like the person they were trying to represent or does it look like someone ate a bunch of black pens and then threw up on their skin? If you want to honour and respect a person then spend the fucking money to do it properly or don’t do it at all.

I actually like anime and that scares the bejesus out of me. Imagine she was sleeping beside you staring you down with those?

I actually like anime and that scares the bejesus out of me. Imagine she was sleeping beside you staring you down with those?

While we’re on the topic, I’d like to talk about the show Bad Ink, which is so bad itself that I want to die when I watch it. They spend twenty minutes talking about how bad someone’s tattoo is and how embarrassing it is and then they finally reveal it and it’s just not a great tattoo. I mean, it’s not like it’s something I’d want, but after many years of the internet and bad tattoos, what they’re showing isn’t particularly that interesting and the cover ups they do have never really blown me away. Get some more substance in your show and look around online a little, guys. The only thing worse would be if Dave Navarro hosted a show where he created the impression that he was a tattoo master. Wait, he really did that already? Dave, I have the most boring, clichéd tattoos in the history of the world, Navarro? Don’t get me wrong, the other artists on the show are really something and I respect their opinions very much, I just think the show would be better suited hosted by Pee Wee Herman. I suppose I’m getting off track, though.

Luckily, while god is fudging you, the rest of us are here to judge.

Luckily, while god is fudging you, the rest of us are here to judge.

Do you have a friend who wants to get into tattoos but they don’t have any human canvas to show their awesome ability? I know I have, in my day. Aspiring artists love people with more than a couple of tattoos because they’re seemingly more willing to take a shot on something. You never know, you could get a free tattoo from your buddy and he or she could go on to be the next big thing and you can go on television and brag about how you got a tattoo from the best for free. Now pinch yourself and wake up, because that’s not going to happen. There are artificial options when it comes to trying your mettle as an artist, they’re just expensive. If the person who wants to tattoo you isn’t serious enough about it to spend any money to get good then what makes you think they’re serious enough to give you a piece of art deserving of your flesh? If your friend wanted to be a doctor would you let them remove your appendix in lieu of going to medical school?

Fuck the established system of spelling system.

Fuck the established system of spelling system.

The other big hit number when it comes to tattoos that make people cringe is those with spelling mistakes. How much do you really love the sentiment you’re getting permanently added to your skin if you don’t even know how to spell it? I mean, I feel badly for people who use the wrong word spelled correctly because it sounds the same. At least they can explain that they typed it in any kind of device with spell check and it told them that it was acceptable. What about the morons who can’t even say that? When I get any kind of word tattooed on me I make sure a thousand times that it’s spelled correctly. They can do corrections, sure, but they never look the way you wanted it to look originally. Bonus points for people who have poorly spelled tattoos about how great they are. Whenever I’ve had a word or words done they ask me to write out the spelling exactly as I want it. I think most professional shops do this so that you can’t go back and cry that they didn’t spell check it for you. They probably won’t. Some places are nice enough to point out the spelling mistake, but only if the people involved are smart enough to catch it. Type your phrase in on a search engine and see what kind of sites it comes up on, if any. If reputable websites and newspapers and such are using it the way you have it spelled then you’re probably in good shape. If the phrase only comes up in forums with twelve year olds arguing about how great they are then you might want to ask a friend. You know, one who reads books.

This wasn't even funny the moment you thought about it, let alone for the rest of your life.

This wasn’t even funny the moment you thought about it, let alone for the rest of your life.

The last piece of advice I will give to help protect you against bad tattoos is to listen to the artist. If you’ve selected your artist wisely then they likely know much more about how your idea for a tattoo will look than you do. Just because you think something is going to look good doesn’t mean it will. I’ve heard countless people try to argue with a tattoo artist about what will look good and what will look terrible. If you force them then they’ll finally cave and give you the bad tattoo that you want, in a lot of cases, or they’ll just refuse to do it at all because they don’t want you dragging that waste of skin around and telling people they gave it to you. Try not to judge an artist by the things people have asked them to draw, either. They don’t get to choose what they’re drawing. Examine the work for what it is and try to determine if it’s well done for what the customer was asking. A bad idea for art is going to remain a bad idea for art no matter who crafts it.

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