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The Ten Commandments of Tattoos

The Ten Commandments of Tattoos

I have a lot of tattoos. Some I absolutely love and one or two that I down right regret. If I could some how travel back in time and tell my 26 year old un inked self what I know now about tattoos I would look a lot different. Don’t get me wrong, I still would have tons of tattoos, I just would have done things differently and not regret any of the lovely tattoos on my body. More thinking to go with the inking. So with that in mind I am sharing the wisdom that can only come from being a tattooed mama to help future tattoo aficionados get a tattoo they will never regret.

The Ten Commandments of Tattoos

I think most things can be pared down to a list of ten, (hey it worked for the commandments, so why not tattoos.) Most people can hang onto ten thoughts in their head, and those who can’t usually have a cool smart phone to hold onto the information for them. These ten tattoo rules will keep you from getting a tattoo you might regret down the road.

1. Never get tattooed on a whim

I’ll say it again, think before you ink. You’d think this would be common sense, but you would be surprised at the number of people who have ridiculous tattoos on their hip or bicep that have absolutely no meaning other then, “my friends were getting one and I wanted to get one too.” Ink for the sake of ink is ridiculous. To tattoo without regret you have to use your brain a little first.

2. Never get a cartoon character tattooed on you

Seriously, a “Tigger” tattoo is never a good idea. This is a tattoo you will regret. I know these are some harsh words, but I have seen so many bad tattoos I need to make this clear. No matter how much meaning you think a cartoon character has to you now, rest assured it will not hold that meaning. When you get an image tattooed on your body for life you need to think timeless and meaningful. And god forbid you choose a tattoo artist who isn’t very good at their craft. Imagine trying to explain your poorly drawn Bart Simpson tattoo to your future employer.

3. Men Never get a tattoo where you grow a lot of hair

I have a super awesome friend who got his one and only tattoo on his chest to commemorate the birth of his son. He broke two rules with this one, he got a cartoon character, Jack Jack from the move “The Incredibles,” and he got it on his very hairy chest. The tattoo itself is quite well done, and a sweet testament of love for his son, but the hair sprouting from it is down right creepy. A cartoon baby sprouting wiry hair is never a good idea. Getting a tattoo is not like electrolysis, the hair will grow back. So if the tattoo artist has to bushwhack their way in to find your skin to ink, then it’s probably not an awesome spot to get a tattoo.

4. Women Never tattoo your boobs or belly

YOU WILL REGRET IT! Even if you don’t plan on having children your body will change and droop and so will your tattoo. I turn forty this year and I can testify to gravity and the tricks it plays on your body, it’s sad but true. And no amount of touch ups can fix the serious stretching that comes from pregnancy. Some people bounce back, some people don’t. Do you want to risk it? Not to mention the class factor. Think about it, how many lawyers do you know with boob tattoos?

5. Never get the name of a lover or spouse tattooed

Does this ever work out? I don’t care how long you have been with someone, getting their name tattooed on you is like asking for something bad to happen. If you are desperate to get something to commemorate your undying love for each other pick a matching symbol to get tattooed and put it in an inconspicuous spot. That way it can be explained away to your next partner should things not work out with the current love of your life.

6. Do pay a lot of money for your tattoo

This is not the time to be a bargain hunter. If someone is charging you bargain basement prices for your tattoo, they’re probably not very good. Sometimes in life it is important to pay top dollar for things, this would be one of those times. A tattoo is for life, it is an artistic investment. So do your homework, research the best artist in your area, and don’t flip out and look for someone cheaper when you hear their price. A good tattoo artist is worth the money. I have a cheap tattoo and man do I regret it.

7. Do get a tattoo to commemorate your children

I don’t know a single person who regrets getting a tattoo to honor their child. (Even if it is a hairy cartoon character.) Love springs eternal for our children so be creative and pick something that will bring a smile to your face every time you look at it and will make you think of your little angel. One of my favorite tattoos to celebrate the birth of a child is a tattoo of a child’s hand print at birth with their name and birth date scrolled underneath it. A proud papa got this tattoo on his inner forearm and his now 16 year old daughter is so touched by this loving gesture. I have also seen a fair number of portraits done of people’s children and I am really on the fence about whether this is a good tattoo idea. Photo realism in tattooing is very hard to come by and takes a special tattoo artist. I am a much bigger fan of script or a symbol to commemorate a child. Leave the photo realism for actual photos unless you’re lucky enough to get a tattoo artist like Kat Von D to do it.

8. Do plan on building onto your tattoo

One of the tattoo mistakes that I made as a newbie going in was not planning for the future. At 26 I thought I was going to be a one and done kind of tattoo person, boy was I wrong. They are addictive, but in a good, don’t need to go to rehab kind of way. I have been somewhat lucky in that the tattoos I have chosen could be built on, almost all can be in some way. But if I had planned things out better, I would look way cooler and not quite so higgle dee piggly patch worky. A little forethought about themes and placement would have helped a lot.

9. Do choose a spot that’s easily hidden for your first tattoo

I didn’t heed my own advice here, in fact all of my tattoos are in super visible places. I got my first one on the outside of my right wrist and it’s not small. Do I regret it, nope, but I have the luxury of being an artsy fartsy nut who enjoys walking to the beat of my own drum. Most people don’t choose a life path that makes being a total nut job okay or aren’t prepared to deal with the consequences. (Full disclosure: I will admit to hiding my tattoos from my grandmother until the day she died at the request of my mother. And yes when I was wearing sweaters in sweltering heat to appease an 80 year old lady and my mom I did kind of regret my highly visible tattoos or at least wish that there was decent cover up makeup I could have used instead.)

The point is that if you’re hell bent on getting a tattoo, think about being discrete with the placement. I do highly encourage you to pick a spot that you can see so you can enjoy it. (To this day I have no back tattoos because I wouldn’t be able to see them.) But think about your future employment, the image you want to project and for goodness sake what will Grandma think?

10. Do keep your tattoo designs simple

This maybe the single most important piece of advice I can give anyone about tattooing. Simple designs always workout the best. Tattoos age with your skin, lines can bleed and blur and colors fade. And the more ornate and complicated your tattoo is the more likely it will look like a jumbled mess. I speak from experience. I got a a gorgeous tree of life tattooed on my left forearm and then felt compelled to fill in the space around it. The result is an overly complicated design that is hard to make out. So keep your designs clean and simple with bold lines and a simple color scheme if you use color at all. And don’t be afraid to leave lots of space.

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