Stop Asking People with Tattoos These Questions, You’re Probably Being Annoying

1. Did it hurt?

Any time somebody’s poking you repeatedly with a needle, it’s going to be really uncomfortable. A tattoo is essentially a puncture wound that is then filled with ink, and if you’ve ever lodged something into your skin that wasn’t there to begin with, it’s going to hurt a little. But some body parts are less painful, some people are more tolerant of pain, and after you go under the needle a few times, that buzzing sensation is less anxiety-inducing because you know what to expect. The tattoos I got on my ribs hurt like crazy, but the one I have on my inner arm was prickly at most. And it may itch and burn afterwards, but if you take care of it, it’s really fine.

2. Don’t you regret them?

For the most part? No. Chances are really good the person spent time thinking about the design they wanted, and whether it’s artwork, a quote, or even a tribal armband, it means something to them. Over time, tattoos also reach beyond their symbolism, and also commemorate moments in that person’s life and who they were at the time they got the tattoo. Who you were when you decided to get a tattoo with your brother, who you were when you had a quote inked onto your foot, who you were when you were 22 and confused and curious and scared—those are all valid aspects of your past, and those tattoos serve as reminders of your past. They ground you to who you are. Why would you regret who you were and who you are today?

(I admit that there is one tattoo I regret, but I got it when I was 16 and it’s in a rather inconspicuous location on my body. This is also why there are laws prohibiting teenagers from getting tattoos, but I deliberately went to a shady shop that didn’t ask for my ID, and this one’s on me. I take full responsibility for that poor life choice.)

3. Don’t you respect yourself?

Yes, I do. And yes, you should always respect yourself. Whenever anyone asks you this, it’s really safe to assume that they may not respect you. And you know what? Cool. They don’t have to respect you, which makes it easier for you to make a judgment call and not include that person in your life. If they can’t respect that you made such a decision over your own body, chances are really good that they won’t be able to overlook the other things on which you disagree as well. If you think your body is a temple and it’s disrespectful to get tattoos, then don’t get them, that’s fine. People with tattoos don’t think less of people who don’t have tattoos. But my body is a temple, too, and I will decorate it as I see fit; my design aesthetic just happens to involve tattoos.

4. How are you going to feel about them when you’re old?

Who’s to say how we’ll feel about everything when we’re old? Sometimes people switch political ideologies throughout their lives. Sometimes people change their mind about a certain food. It’s the same thing with tattoos. I don’t know how I’ll feel about them when I’m old because I’m not old yet. And it’s very possible that I could regret them, and it’s very possible that the ink might not age all that well and I’ll get wrinkles and things will sag and I end up needing surgery over and the doctor will botch the tattoo, and, and, and. But much in the same vein of whether or not I regret my tattoos, I would like to think that I’m not going to regret who I was at 24 when I begin to reminisce as an old, wrinkled, and yes, tattooed woman.

5. Does that mean you only date other people with tattoos?

Often, people with tattoos are no more or less attracted to another person solely because they have one. Some people have a thing for people with tattoos the way other people have a thing for blondes or brunettes or short people or tall people, but a person’s personality, sense of humor, and heart should trump everything else. It’s shouldn’t be a deal breaker if somebody else doesn’t have tattoos. And chances are, if two people who have tattoos are dating, it’s coincidence—tattoos are growing increasingly common in our society, after all—and only one of the likes and dislikes they share. (If it’s all they have in common, there’s a major problem.)

6. But what does it mean?

Are you ready for a long story? Are you ready for something really deep and meaningful and introspective? Because if you ask somebody about this, you have to genuinely be interested in what that person takes to heart. You have to be open to the idea that something could have spoken to them in a way that has completely changed their life, even if it leaves you entirely unfazed. And just as you might feel guilted into having to react appropriately when somebody shows you what they believe to be the funniest video clip of. all. time, nodding your head politely and saying, “Hmm, that’s interesting,” when they tell you about a memory they have of their dad or their favorite poem is like slapping that person in the heart. They just shared a deeply personal part of themselves with you. Treat that knowledge with care and respect.

7. How much did you pay for that?

This question is all about the delivery. If there’s even a hint of the derisive “… when you could have spent your money on something else?” hanging at the end of that inquiry, it won’t matter to you how much or how little somebody spent on a piece and now you’re just being a little nosy. A tattoo is an investment, though, and it’s smart to actually spend decent money on something that is going to hopefully last your whole lifetime. If you really think you can haggle with your tattoo artist for a cheaper piece, chances are good you’re going to end up with a tattoo that looks cheaper. If you’re really dedicated to the concept of the piece, you’ll pony up the money for it. If you’re really hesitant to spend the money, then chances are good you may not even want the tattoo itself.

8. What do your parents think about them?

Here’s the thing about this question: this suggests that all parents will have the exact same reaction about everything their children do. My mom hates them, personally, and my dad is a pro at that mild headshake that speaks volumes of what he thinks about them, but not every parent is like that. Some parents even have tattoos themselves—we’re not the first generation to get a little ink crazy. And I am fully grateful to my parents for creating my body, carrying it around, clothing it, feeding it, and protecting it until I was shoved out of the nest and into college, but my parents also taught me that my body is my body, and I can do what I want with it as long as I respect myself in the process. I wasn’t all that worried about what my parents would think when I got my tattoos, because their bodies weren’t going under the needle. Mine was.

9. Would you ever get them removed?

Maybe years from now, but A, it’s expensive; B, it takes time for each procedure; and C, the results are often questionable at best. It’s very possible that surgery will progress to a point where tattoo removal is a lot more accessible to those who regret their tattoos, but I also went into getting my tattoo with the full knowledge that each one was a very permanent, very final decision. And unless you see brochures from a dermatologist’s office lying around my apartment, chances are very good it’s not on my radar.

Ink-stagram: How Instagram Has Made Tattoo Art the New Street Style

What comes to mind when you think of tattoos? For me, it’s a sub-street-level tattoo parlor; neon lights buzzing and a feeling of comfortable uncleanliness. Dust, grime and cluttered collectibles adorn artists work spaces that remain simultaneously sterile… almost doctoral, with the kind of pristine attention to detail that adjoins a decision of permanent ink.

But in the age of Instagram, the tattoo industry is undergoing a revolution. No longer fringe fashion, #tattoos have become the plaything of celebrities, and body art influencers alike. The art from that was once confined to the backroom of a brick and mortar has become a trending topic some 25 million posts strong.

Many current tattoo artists grew up during a time when alternative forms of media, albeit relatively underground, first began to explore and propagate body artwork. “Being someone who grew up making art in an era of riot grrrl zines, it makes sense to engage in a medium that reaches further than the walls of the gallery or local tattoo studio,” says Emily North, a Brooklyn tattoo artist, curator, and social activist with over 10.5k Instagram followers.
Arguably, Instagram has become the modern day digital “zine.” With its simple platform, broad reach, and focus on relevant news, culture, and art, the simple photo app has surpassed its origin as a form of photographic braggadocio. For tattoo artists, this means that their work isn’t confined to the walls of their parlor, the skin of their customers, or the affectionate attention of a local community. Instead, tattoo artists (and their parlors) have parlayed their preexisting relationships with the art community into social media followings that grow as Instagram users become more acclimated and interested in the body art industry. From the US to the UK, Brazil to the Pacific Islands, tattoo artists and their unique works of art are celebrated and shared across time zones and cultural boundaries

“Instagram has become the primary platform to promote myself and spread awareness of my work and a window into my lifestyle,” says Luke Wessman, world famous tattoo artist, designer, and influencer. “For artists, Instagram currently is the most visible way to promote work both locally and globally and, in my opinion, has unmatched reach.” And as a result of its reach, the platform “has helped more people in remote places become tattoo fans, encouraged young people to seek out apprenticeships, and has built trends in the style of tattoo work that is popular,” says North.

But alongside the growing popularity of tattoos on social platforms, there’s a growing sentiment that the art is losing some of its unique, underground and edgy ethos. “More purist tattoo artists aren’t happy that body art has blown up,” North explains, “but I think it’s a great thing. Because tattooing is being shared outside the shop, it’s becoming accessible and familiar to a larger clientele.”

The propagation of body art by social media profiles hasn’t only increased awareness and interest, but also demonstrated the diversity of styles and abilities within the realm. Body art and tattoo artists and models not only can promote themselves and their own work, but also witness and learn from others’ profiles.

At the same time, the exposure and accessibility of body art work on a global scale presents unique challenges to both up and coming artists as well as those already established.”There are people pushing the envelope,” says Wessman, “the right tattoo posted at the right time by the right person could totally go viral…” He continues, “Having exposure to so many artists and art forms it’s hard not to be influenced; but in a way, with so much diversity at our fingertips, it’s becoming more and more difficult to have an original point of view and pressure as an artist is higher now then ever.”

But for artists whose work catches the eye of high-profile celebrities and models, that pressure can lead to professional relationships that helps them grow their personal brand. Wessman, who has worked with numerous celebrities including Jhene Aiko, Dave Navarro, Matt Dillon, and Stalley agrees. “

Working with a celebrity always impacts exposure. Our generation is so fame driven and hungry, when people see you work on or hang with “famous people”, it excites, for sure.” He continues, “I’ve known unknown and unskilled artists out there that after tattooing one celebrity, they become overnight sensations. Though, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that my relationships with some influential people have helped me incrementally grow my brand.”

For Carlos Costa, a UK based model whose stylized beard and tattoo look has attracted over 130k followers on Instagram, social media has not only helped inform his own personal body art choices, but also allowed him to share his favorite artists and tattoo shops with his followers.“I know artists will gain a lot of followers when I share pictures of their work, and it works both ways. It’s normal isn’t it, you go to someone who’s a good artist, you like to get their art and there’s a mutual idea of “Yeah lets share the word.”

Costa not only refers his followers to specific artists depending on their taste, but he’s used Instagram to inspire his own tattoos. “I found the guys Volko and Simone from Buena Vista Club in Germany through social media. They do trash polka and realistic trash polka, which is what I’ve got on my right arm,” he said.

Costa isn’t the only one who is being inspired. Young people across the world are being exposed to body art with every swipe, making a once niche form of expressionist art mainstream. Perhaps its newfound popularity will take away from the occultist ethos of the body art industry. But one thing is clear: Digital innovation has spurred a changing tide, a tide where freedom of expression and the deconstruction of body-image expectations are the rule rather than the exception.

12 Tips To Tattoo Shop Etiquette

You never want to be “that guy” in the tattoo shop who is haggling for a lower price, criticizing the tattooist’s design, and basically telling everyone in the shop how to do their jobs. It’s rude to the artists, managers, piercers and other clients. This kind of behavior can cause a huge distraction and kills the vibe of the shop. When you get a tattoo, you don’t want to be a dick about it, you want to be the best possible client. Everyone gets the tattoo they deserve, so here are our twelve tips to tattoo shop etiquette.

1. Do your research.

Always know what you want when you go into a tattoo shop. Bring reference photos (but not an overwhelming amount) that can give the artist an idea of what you want. They can’t read your mind, so they will need your help on this.

2. Remember artists specialize in particular styles.

Don’t go in wanting a realistic black and grey portrait of your grandmother and ask a color New School artist to do it, or vice vera. Don’t be offended when they tell you there are other artists who would do a better job. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to do your tattoo, that just means there’s an artist out there that can render your idea more closely to the style you are looking for.

3. Be open to your artist’s ideas.

Your tattoo artist is (hopefully) a professional for a reason. They know best. So when they tell you the lettering should be bigger or that a mandala on your back will come out cleaner than one on your ribs, it’s most likely because it will hold up better in the long run and read more clearly.

4. Don’t be a back seat driver.

Again, your tattoo artist knows best. Don’t overwhelm them with nitpicky details about every single shade of blue that you want added to your tattoo, how many centimeters apart something should be in the design, or how many hairs that portrait of your grandmother should have on her head. If you did your research and picked an artist you trust, your tattoo will turn out beautifully. That being said, if there is something major in the initial design you really don’t like, speak up and let them know. A good artist wants to work with you and make sure you’re happy with the final result.

5. Good tattoos aren’t cheap and cheap tattoos aren’t good.

This is nonnegotiable. Your artist has his or her set prices for a reason. Respect that. If you haggle for a price, you are disrespecting the artist.

6. Be patient.

Setting up a tattoo station and preparing to tattoo someone takes time, especially if you are getting a walk-in tattoo. Allow time for your artist to design the piece or even finish up with the clients who walked in before you. A patient client is an appreciated client.

7. Have good hygiene.

Your tattoo artist is going to be up close and personal with you while you get tattooed. Make sure to shower, shave and brush your teeth before your appointment. You don’t want to be known as Sir Stinks-A-Lot every time you get inked.

8. Be sober.

Always get a tattoo sober. This should be a no brainer, but make sure you go into the studio without any alcohol or drugs in your system. Not only will this ensure that you pick the idea you actually want, but it will make saturating the tattoo easier for the artist. This means try not to drink the night prior to getting a tattoo as well. Alcohol thins your blood and will cause you to bleed a lot more.

9. Don’t bring your whole family to the tattoo parlor.

One friend is fine, but more than that is overkill. It crowds the shop and creates distractions for both the client and the artist. Also, no one wants to deal with your rude, nitpicky aunt who keeps claiming you should have gone with that other photo of grandma halfway through the portrait session.

10. Don’t set time restrictions.

Yes, some artists charge by the hour instead of by the piece, so don’t go into the session saying you can only afford three hours and ask for a six-hour tattoo. If you can only sit for a few hours, let your artist know before hand so they are prepared in case you have to tap out after several hours and come back to finish the piece.

11. Don’t eat.

To eat while getting tattooed forces you to wiggle unnecessarily and is unhygienic, and in some states, like New Jersey, it is also illegal. Take a break if you need to get your nom on.

12. Tip your artist.

Tipping is not expected, but it is appreciated. It shows that you love the tattoo and appreciate all of the hard work the artist put in to make it. Tips should probably be somewhere between 10-20% if they are monetary, but sometimes cool gifts that you know your artist would be into are just as acceptable!

BODY ART IS MORE MAINSTREAM THAN EVER…

Tattoos are traditionally associated with “outlaw” cultures — bikers, gangs, punks, ex-cons, and sex workers. (Can you count how many tattoos you’ve seen in a porn movie lately?) But the 90’s saw tattooing move into the mainstream in a big way.

Since then, everyone has been expecting a tattoo backlash. And indeed, laser removal clinics have been doing strong business for two decades and counting. Lots of people, especially younger ones, seem to think that laser removal allows relatively easy removal of unwanted body art. If so, they may be surprised at the dozens of hours and the thousands of dollars required. And sometimes, the procedure merely fades the art instead of removing it entirely. (A better choice might be a cover-up tattoo from an experienced tattoo artist.)

Some traditional tattoos are sexual in content — think of the topless mermaid who wriggles when a sailor flexes his bicep. Genital tattoos are still rare, but they are done. For some, tattoo-adorned skin can become a fetish in itself. “Tabu Tattoo” is a magazine dedicated to pictures of racy tattoos in naughty places. Photographer Charles Gatewood is famous for his documentary photos of outlaw-style body art of this sort.

Does it hurt? Yes, but the amount of pain depends both on the person receiving the ink and the area of the body that is tattooed. Ink over bone hurts the most; work done over a well-muscled, fleshy area of the body (thighs, biceps, butt) hurts least.

How individual do you think you’ll be if you pick a design off the wall? The designs that tattoo parlors display on the wall is called “flash art.” They’re cheaper and easier to execute than custom designs, but you’re also more likely to run into that black panther stalking across someone else’s shoulder as well as your own. Some people are fans of the old-fashioned flash art style, however, and it a design appeals to you and you don’t mind sharing, go for it. If you do want to work on a custom design, most tattoo artists will happily assist, and can even work up the art for you from a verbal description or rough sketch. Many have extensive libraries of art in their studios, which you can browse for inspiration.

Make sure that your tattoo artist follows sterile procedure. Blood-borne diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis are easily transmitted by dirty tattoo needles. Your tattooist should use gloves, autoclave their needles, and shave your skin with a disposable razor. Talk to the artist beforehand about their precautions, and take a look at their workspace before getting down to business.

Even with increased acceptance of tattooing in society, think twice before getting a tattoo that can’t be covered. If you’re considering a career in law enforcement, for example, you might want to know that most departments forbid visible tattoos.

And remember, unless you’re already saving up for that expensive laser surgery removal clinic, tattoos last a lifetime. How many times have you broken up with a lover? Dumping a tattoo is even harder to do.