Tattoo Tuesday – My Friend Convinced me to Get a Tattoo

Marvin by Tom Armstrong – How cute does Marvin look with that bone on his back? haha

No one had to convince me to get a tattoo because, well, I have wanted one for as long as I can remember. But, over the years, I have convinced two friends to get tattoos.  So, I asked them recently, how did you let me talk you into getting a tattoo?

Friend #1 – The week I returned home after law school, I wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate the occasion. This was tattoo #2 and I had such a great experience with tattoo #1, I wanted to share this one with someone.  Cue my work friend that had turned into one of my closest friends.  It really didn’t take much convincing, but I recall before this occasion we had never had one conversation about tattoos prior to this day.  So, how did I convince her?  She said I was so excited about sharing the experience with her she didn’t have the heart to say no she didn’t want one.  Now, how is that for friendship. She ended up getting a connected female/male symbol on her lower stomach.  She didn’t regret it and we have this great memory to share.

Friend #2 – Tattoo #3 is my favorite and I got it from Gabe Shum at Ace Dragon Tattoo in Hong Kong. Brilliant tattoo artist by the way. If you want a dragon, he is the go to guy. My friend’s boyfriend and I were going to get tattoos.  He had one already and wanted to get a dragon on her upper arm. Now, my friend is the type of person I though would never get a tattoo. I realize now that you can’t assume that about anyone.  She sat and watch her boyfriend and I talk about and plan and schedule our tattoos for months.  (Gabe usually has a waiting list). She went with us to the tattoo shop.  Her boyfriend gets his tattoo and then I get mine.  The entire time, I am telling her to go ahead get one.  And telling her what a bad ass she would be if she had a tattoo. As we were wrapping my tattoo up, she decides to get one. A small dragon on her lower stomach.  Seems to be the place for spur of the moment tattoos. She said, she saw how excited we were about our tattoos, she wanted to experience it herself. Now, she wants to get an entire back piece.  We created a monster.

One of my favorite episodes of Friends is when Phoebe convinces Rachel to get a tattoo with her.  Phoebe decided to get a Lily, “For my mom because her name is Lily.” Later at the shop, Rachel get her heart shape tattoo on her hip.  Then, when Rachel asked to see Phoebe’s tattoo, she didn’t get it.  “The guy came in with needles and did you know they do this with needles.” and  then Rachel replies, “Really, you don’t say because mine was licked on by kittens.”

After getting her back in the chair, the artist touched Phoebe once and she jump out of the chair and left.  In sharing the story with the “friends” later, she says “For your information, this is exactly what I wanted. This is a tattoo of the earth as seen from a great great distance.  It’s the way my mother sees me from heaven.” Cue the aahh track.

Needless to say, you should get a tattoo for yourself, but getting a tattoo with friends can be a great  bonding experience.  But, please make sure you want one the tattoo in the first place. As you know, they are permanent.

I am still taking submissions for tattoo stories.  If you would like to be a part of Tattoo Tuesday, let me know in the comments. 

Tattoo Tuesday – I don’t like my tattoo.

Marvin by Tom Armstrong

I know how Marvin feels.  I didn’t like one of my tattoo’s, either.  I had a great idea and a unique image reference, but my tattoo artist couldn’t quite capture my vision.

The tattoo didn’t turn out the way I wanted.

So, I had a few options.  I could have pouted and cried, threatened and accused, or criticized and complained.

And, I did a little bit of all that.  But in the end, I realized it was my tattoo. No one else’s. So, I could either cut my wrist off or I could learn to love it.  The former wasn’t a viable option.  Especially for a writer, I kind of need my hand.

I talked to the original artist and between of the two of us, we came up with a way to covered part of the bad tattoo with another image and still keep the same story and created a better tattoo.

It still isn’t perfect. But, I learned to love my tattoo.

If you get a tattoo and you don’t like it, there are options besides self mutilation (yeah, I get the irony of that statement considering some people think tattoos are a form of body mutilation):

  • If you don’t like your tattoo or it didn’t turn out the way you envisioned, say something to your tattoo artist.  If he is good, he will change it or adjust it to make sure you are happy leaving his shop.  His reputation is on the line.
  • Go to another artist and see if they have any ideas on how to change it or improve it.  Fresh eyes may be the key to creating something good our of something bad.
  • Cover it up by incorporating it into a larger piece (not an option for my wrist tattoo, I have no more skin surface).
  • Live with it. Your tattoo may not be perfect, but it is uniquely yours.  And, it doesn’t change the story behind why you got the tattoo in the first place.

Do you have a tattoo you’re not 100% happy with?  What did you do about?

Related post:  My wrist tattoo redux. 

Tattoo Tuesday – Does your tattoo artist have a style?

Marvin by Tom Armstrong

Most tattoo artist can do it all. Give them a picture, an idea or an image and they can create an original tattoo, no problem.

But, some artist have a style or a speciality.  Some artist prefer doing one style or another. If the artist apprenticed under a guy who does Asian. He may prefer to do dragons and water and lotus flowers.  He probably learned as well that you don’t place certain elements or colors together.  So much about these type of tattoos is the tradition behind the tattoo style.  If you find an artist with this type of knowledge, it is a great experience and I am all about the tattoo experience as a whole.

But, is it important?  I enjoy reality competition shows and the latest crop are tattoo competition shows.  The two best are Ink Master on Spike TV and Best Ink on Oxygen TV.

Both shows put tattoo artist through a series of challenges that focus on certain techniques of tattooing as well as different styles;  shading, fine lines, color and black and grey as well as Asian/Japanese, old school, new school, photo realism, portraits, scripts, pin ups, military, mechanical, the list goes on and on.  They judge the artist on their work as a whole and then declare a winner.  The whole idea is a great tattoo artist has mastered all the techniques and can do any style.

One of my favorite artist who did my favorite tattoo, a asian inspired bull on my ankle, is known for tattooing the most amazing dragons.  People come from all over the world to get an original dragon from him.  It is his speciality.  But, he can do it all.

There is nothing wrong with wanting your tattoo artist to be an expert in the type of tattoo you want.  I compare it to doctors.  I am sure if I have a heart attack, a general practiciner can save my life.  But, I would much rather go to a cardiologist.

The goal is to get the best tattoo.  So, research your artist.  And if you have a tattoo in mind and it’s possible, make sure your artist has done that style of tattooing before.

What’s more important to you, technique or style in picking an artist?  What style of tattoos do you like?  

Tattoo Tuesday – Will my design make a good tattoo?

The best person to answer this question is your tattoo artist.  Actually, I should clarify.  The best person to answer this question is your experienced tattoo artist.  If he has experience, then he has seen more bad tattoos then good tattoos.  He knows best, so listen to him.

My first tattoo (the sun and the moon), I had pictured it being very detailed and complex.  But, I also wanted it very small and on a place where I could show it off when I wanted to and hide it if I needed to.

The tattoo artist said no.  For a detailed tattoo you have to make it big enough so that in 5 – 10 years, the lines won’t blur together.  If it is too small, it is almost guaranteed that it will not be recognizable in a few years.

I wanted to use 4 different colors. I pictured the sun being yellow and the moon being blue and the stars around it in green and white.

My tattoo artist said no.  Black and grey with a few white accents.  He explained that yellow, green, blue and white on my skin tone would not look yellow, green, blue and white.  Color looks best on pale skin tones.  Now, this was several years ago and I have seen people with my skin tone with color tattoos, but they went to artist that were experienced in tatting their skin tone.  Great lesson to remember, which takes me to my next point.

Make sure the tattoo artist is capable of doing the design and style you want with absolute confidence.

One of my tattoos was a great idea, great concept.  The artist thought he could do it like I wanted it.  But, he wasn’t sure.  Red flag.  I didn’t listen and got a bad tattoo.  It has since been covered and correct it, but there is nothing more upsetting then getting a tattoo that you don’t like.

So, look at images, create a concept, pick out a style and color.  But, be prepared.  You artist may have a better way to express your idea and give you a good tattoo as well.  After all, that is the goal.

What are some of your tattoo design ideas?  Anyone else have a bad tattoo? 

I am still looking for submissions for future Tattoo Tuesdays.  Share your tattoo stories. 

Tattoo Tuesday – They Don’t Like My Ink

Marvin by Tom Armstrong

When it comes to personal forms of expression tattooing your body is as personal and as expressive as it gets, but we don’t live in a bubble.  People are going to see your tattoo.  You may be thinking, oh, I will get it some place where no one can see.  My personal opinion is what’s the point, but regardless, unless you never plan on taking your closes off in front of anyone every again.  Someone, at some point, somewhere is going to see it.  So, do their opinions matter?  I guess it just depends.

When I got my first tattoo, my parents were not thrilled about the idea.  But, they weren’t exactly surprised about my decision, either.  I have always been the one in the family that was a little different.  I have a long history of stunts that pushed the boundaries on their patients under the guise of self expression (I once shaved my head in high school, but that is another story for another day).  When I told them I was going to get a tattoo, they tried to talk me out of it.

I heard all the typical excuses: your to young, what you like now will change, tattooed people are delinquents, you will regret it when you are older.  I didn’t care. I had made up my mind and I was not going to be dissuaded.  On a family vacation to New York, I broke away from the group, went down to The Village and got may first tattoo from an Asian guy named Sammy.

And you know what, my parent got used to it.  Don’t get me wrong, every time I show up at home with a new tat, my mother still gives me that look, but it is worth it for the opportunity to express myself as I see fit. After all, they were the ones that raised this strong willed, independent, and a little crazy sometimes daughter.  It’s all their fault anyway.  Shout out to my supportive parents.

When you got a tattoo, how did your people react?  Did their opinion effect what you got and where you got it? If you don’t have one, but want one, is this the reason why?  

I am always looking for great tattoo stories.  If you would like be featured on Tattoo Tuesday in the future, let me know.

Thanks so much to Kate for being my first Tattoo Tuesday friend.  Check out her book inspired tattoo, here.

Oh, I almost forgot.  I have a special treat for you next week.  Guess what, I am getting a tattoo.