Blunder the Skin
By Anna Sachse
I’ve had friends who’ve regretted getting a barcode on the wrist, a Tweety Bird on the ankle, the Burning Man symbol on their back, a Chinese character that they don’t understand on their stomach, the word “Toots” (yes, meaning “farts”) on an inner lip . . . it goes on and on. If there was an obvious piece of tattoo advice to be gleaned from their common situation, it would be “Don’t rush into it.” You may be chomping at the needle to have the name of your girlfriend of one month tattooed on your bicep (cuz you’re gonna be together forever, right?), but keep in mind that girls sometimes cheat and laser tattoo removal hurts like a bitch (imagine someone throwing hot grease on you), will cost anywhere from $250-$1,000 per session, may require up to 10 sessions and can leave lasting scars.
Of course, this certainly isn’t to say that you shouldn’t get a tattoo, but besides rushing it, here are some other things to avoid to make sure your ink don’t stink.
Don’t simply opt for the lowest bidder.
When it comes to picking a tattoo parlor, do your research. Make sure the studio is licensed and the artists are truly professionals—ask around, Google them and don’t be afraid to ask questions about their background. The studio should be clean and hygienic, and the artists should use sterile, one-use equipment. To avoid unnecessary pain, infection, disease or even just a crappy-looking tat, it’s worth the money to go pro. If you need to save cash, opt for a simpler, smaller or single-color design.
Don’t make a snap decision about your art.
A tattoo is a lifetime commitment. Think long and hard about what your tattoo means to you before you get it. Is it an object, symbol, design, etc. that you will hold near and dear for the rest of your life? Yeah, that pot leaf/ying-yang/peace sign/dolphin combo might seem like a great idea when you’re 18, but will you still want it when you’re 70? In general, it’s best to avoid anything trendy. Or huge. Another bad idea is making your significant other’s name permanent. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce—think about it. If you must have a name or initials, go with a parent or child. And instead of picking some random picture from a free online clip art gallery, spend some time poring over quality design books, consider designing your own tattoo or employ a well-known artist who specializes in the specific style of art you are interested in. Check out www.tattoo.about.com for a page of featured artists, with links to their work.
Don’t forget that location does make a difference
If your tattoo is on your face, neck, hands, upper back or calves, understand that it will be difficult to hide and that having a tattoo says something about you. If you’re cool with that, great! But consider the repercussions if it would be frowned upon in your line of work. You should also think about how the tattoo will look on your skin when you are older. Boobs sag, as do asses and tummies. One of the hippie moms I grew up with had a butterfly tattoo on her breast. After she had a couple babies, the butterfly looked like he’d been playing with a hydrogen bomb.