Anyone with a tattoo, piercing, or even brightly coloured hair or make-up has likely heard their fair share of ridiculous questions and comments. Some are innocent enough – asking us what our tattoos mean to us, or whether that lip piercing hurt are understandable, I suppose. But there are a few common statements that get really old, really fast. Here are our top 5:
1. Aren’t you going to regret those when you’re older? On the outside, that may seem like a valid question. I must admit, I’ve silently asked it when seeing an 18 year old with a tarantula on his face, or a young woman with “HARD CORE” tattooed across her knuckles. And, you know what? Some people WILL regret them later. But that is their business, not anyone else’s, and it annoyingly presumes that everyone with a visible or controversial tattoo has failed to give it any thought, which I can assure you, is not true.
2. You’d look so much prettier without that. Pretty well every woman that has ever dared to get a facial piercing, tattoo, or dye her hair purple has heard this, more than once. Stop it. No, seriously, stop. Body-mods are about autonomy, not about conforming to someone else’s standards of beauty – we like the way we look with our tattoos and piercings and weird hair and make-up. If that’s not your thing, that’s ok, but it is ours, and that should be ok too.
3. Good luck getting a job! Yes, it’s certainly true that there are still some professions that frown upon visible mods, but that doesn’t make this statement any less obnoxious. It assumes far too much – that the person doesn’t currently have a good job, that they will eventually want a job in which mods won’t be permitted, that all professions worth having disallow mods, and that the person in question hasn’t already given that some thought.
4. Can I buy some pot? Okay, perhaps that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but there is still a perception amongst some that heavily tattooed or alternative looking people are criminals, drug dealers, gang members, or just plain ol’ bad people. This stereotype has never been accurate, but it’s especially untrue and outdated now – the last few decades have seen huge strides in tattoo equipment/ink, piercing methods and jewelry, and artistic collaboration, allowing body-modification to grow into a more than legitimate art-form. We’re not criminals, we’re canvases.
5. Why would you do that to yourself? I think we’ve all encountered this person before, as well – the one who sees body-modification as mutilation or masochism, and thinks there must be something wrong with anyone who wants to do it. That a tattoo is a cry for help, that a facial piercing is a sign of low self-esteem, that a microdermal is some new-fangled form of torture. While, I suppose, from the outside looking in, it may seem a little odd to want a bunch of holes in your body, or some permanent images on your skin, it must be kept in mind that every style, every subculture, every clique, seems odd to someone. Odd needn’t mean negative, however – there’s no reason to believe we’re doing something bad just because it’s something you don’t understand.
Having worked the desk of a couple of tattoo shops over the years, I’ve found the hardest part – by far – is having to tell a very excited potential client that their beloved idea just won’t work. Most people that come into the shop already know what they want, and have their heart set on it. Our artists of course always try to make their ideas a reality, but on occasion, someone comes in with a design that will not turn out the way they are hoping. Most of the time, it’s because of the size, or the location. We never like telling people their idea isn’t the best one, so here are a few tips to ensure you get the perfect tattoo for you.
1. Size does matter. This isn’t to say you cannot have a small tattoo – you most certainly can – but in the tattoo world, small=simple. Over time, lines spread a little. Not enough to be noticeable if the tattoo was an appropriate size to begin with, but if you attempt to take a really intricate design with a lot of tiny lines and shrink it down to the size of a quarter, what you will end up with in five years is a lovely ink blob. If you want a detailed design, it’s going to have to be on the larger side. If you want a tiny tattoo, it’s going to have to be fairly simple.
2. Location, location, location. Where you get it is almost as important and what you get. A good 90% of your body is fine to tattoo, but you want to give some thought to it nonetheless. Inside of your mouth, palms of your hands, side of your finger? Not such great ideas. This doesn’t mean you can’t do it, only that it’s going to heal badly, and possibly fade away entirely over time. Some artists, in fact, are now refusing to tattoo those areas, as they tend to heal so poorly that they feel they’d be doing a disservice to the client by giving them a tattoo they know will look terrible, or disappear, in a few months’ time. Even “normal” locations need to be thought about – do you want the tattoo to be visible all the time, or do you want to be able to hide it? Is the design something that will work on a wrist or ankle, or should it be given a larger canvas? If it’s text, do you want to be able to read it, or do you want others to?
3. Tattoos don’t come with spell-check. If you want text, particularly in a different language, check, double-check, and then check again to make sure the spelling and characters are correct. The most regrettable tattoos tend to be script that was misspelt, or foreign language tattoos with errors in them. Check online, check dictionaries, and, highly recommended – ask a native speaker if it’s correct. Once that script is on you, it’s on you – we cannot go back and change the spelling or insert a different character.
We want you to get a tattoo that not only makes you happy right this second, but will continue to make you happy for years to come. Taking just a little extra time to ensure your tattoo will work can make all the difference in the world.