Tattoos are an incredibly personal and variable thing. Some folks think they should only be reserved for important things. Others are fine with tattoos being something as unimportant and silly a dancing hot dog if it makes a person happy.
Some tattoos though ... yeah.
and yeah ... some tattoos... 0.o
Yeah, I just hit you with a text-moji like it's 2004. Nothing else could adequately describe the face you're about to make while reading this.
Former tattoo artist; a man who looked to be in his late fifties with no other tattoos came in asking for a black widow on the tip of his penis. He said he wanted to "surprise his wife when she got back from her trip" that weekend.
He didn't seem to be under the influence of anything fueling him to make this ridiculous choice, so I proceeded to tell him it was a horrible idea; tip skin is not the same as other areas you'd get a tattoo, it would be painful, he would not want to use it while the tattoo was healing, everything I could think of for him to logically come to the conclusion that it was a bad idea.
I could also tell he was getting off on trying to make me uncomfortable (small female, mid twenties at the time). I finally said sure and threw out an astronomical "handling fee". He frowned and finally walked out the door.
I witnessed a tattoo artist attempt to talk a guy out of a tattoo while getting one. This guy who was maybe early 30s came in, he was super awkward and had a few other people with him. They were obviously drunk.
He explained to the artist that he wanted a hello kitty tramp stamp the size of a cd. His friends all laughed and started to record this guy.
The artist asked him why and he said his friends thought it was funny. The artist tried to talk him out of it. He ended up getting the tattoo.
I think about this poor guy who was obviously doing this to fit in with his crowd of "friends" and how he has to live with a tramp stamp of hello kitty.
De-Escalation In Action
This isn't my story, but a story I was told at a bar. I was talking to a guy while smoking and he was a tattoo artist.
He told me he had a female client who wanted a neck tattoo that said "F*ck ya'll b*tches, your man chose me"
He said that he delicately, as politely as humanly possible, got her to agree to just the words "He chose me."
He said the kicker was telling the woman that the tattoo would be meaningful in different social situations. Such as a wedding per se, He chose me, or when going to church, He chose me.
The woman agreed and got it tattooed.
Knowing that people this confrontational actually exist just cracks me up.
Long Live The King
This was actually a post tattoo proclamation.
Woman came in with her boyfriend wanting his name with a crown over it on her wrist.
Sometimes these tattoos can be marks of sex trafficking. If she had given me any indication whatsoever that she didn't want the tattoo, I wouldn't have done it. She advocated for herself and the tattoo.
Most of the photos of tattoos done on sex trafficking victims appear to be done by a kitchen magician, scratcher, garage guru, a NON professional. This tattoo was done in a professional studio and they paid a professional price for it. Seems like a big risk to me to force someone to get a tattoo in a public space.
I truly do not know the situation. She was much older than me (mid 40's) dude even appeared younger than her.
I tried to talk her out of it but she insisted. So my general policy is to do the tattoo well; maybe with a thinner line weight so it's easier to cover later, but at least it'll be a good tattoo.
Fast forward to after the tattoo, she's all wrapped up, ready to go, and she asks me to look at another tattoo to see how much it would cost to cover.
Turns around, pulls up her shirt, and lo behold, there, across her lower back, in HUGE letters: some OTHER dude's name, WITH A CROWN OVER IT!!!!!!!
WHAT!?!?!? Are you KIDDING ME????? WHY WOULD YOU WANT THAT???
Sometimes, these people, it can be hard y'all.
The Good Taste Police
I was getting work done and the receptionist came in to speak with the artist. She had someone at the front desk looking for a quote on "Barbed wire starting around his wrist and wrapping around his arm all the way up to the shoulder,"
"How about nothing, because that's stupid and I won't do it."
"Oh, uh, okay, I'll tell him."
He looked at me and said, "Sometimes you have to be the good taste police. I did a Nike Swoosh once when I was broke and I still regret it."
Change Of Plans
I'm not an artist, by any means, but I went with my younger brother for his first and the artist had a look like he was dying on the inside the entire time. I could see the absolute defeat in the man's eyes when my brother responded with "yeah that'll show the b*tch".
What was planned was a gorgeous macaw and some flowers along with a nickname our grandma used to call him before she died. But literally as he's walking back with the artist for final decision my brother decides the macaw needs to be a skull, the flowers needed to be daggers and the lettering should now read DEATH instead of the nickname.
This was being changed because his girlfriend had broken up with him a few days before. He was angry and a this tattoo would be his outlet. The artist was able to come up with something, but it definitely looked thrown together last and he wasn't happy.
The ex-girlfriend never even saw the tattoo. As far as I'm aware she blocked him and all of his friends and moved back to her home state with her mom.
I Still Feel Bad About It
I get to tell this one all the time!
Several years ago I tattooed the words "Jeffrey Dahmer" in sh*tty scratchy writing on a girl's neck for her 18th birthday. She had been coming into the shop a lot with her friends as they got tattooed and talking about it. She had the letters drawn up exactly as she wanted them and everything.
The answer was always the same. "No f*cking way".
When she finally turned 18 she came in with a few friends and asked again. I told her politely to f*ck off with her shenanigans. A few minutes later her friend told her he could just tattoo it with the "gun" he got off eBay at home.
I made the hard choice to do the tattoo to ensure that it wouldn't get infected or be all scarred up if she ever decided to have it removed.
It's been circulating around the internet for several years. I still feel sh*tty about it, and hope she got it removed.
The Apprentice's Dolphins
First tattoo was for my entire left side. I'd done the art myself as a watercolor, and it looked really good—a bunch of driftwood, a fishing net, and various seashells and glass dolphins hanging like windchimes.
The artist was recommended by a friend who swore up and down that he was incredible, but I wasn't knowledgeable enough to look up his portfolio, etc. He had me wait a few days because I was grieving the death of my sister, to make sure I didn't change my mind.
I wish I had. His f*cking "apprentice" redraw the art, and I didn't think to check after the kid.
The seashells looked like hands and the dolphins looked like d!cks. The artist didn't correct either, claiming that I should've gone over the apprentice's shoulders and made sure the kid did it right.
I went to the shop next door a year later (their rival shop), and asked one of their artists to fix it. New artist takes one look, notices all the scarring and heavy lines, compares it to my original painting, and immediately knows who did it.
Dude has done all of my tattoos since. His portfolio is all hyper realism, but he does incredible watercolor if you let him loose. I always feel bad because I know he'd rather do muscle cars, but he tells me he doesn't mind cuz his watercolor work on me brings in easy sorority girl money.
When I was an apprentice I just got handed a lot of assignments I couldn't turn down.
The one that stands out is a couple who got enormous tattoos that just said "dysfunctional" shoulder to shoulder, in giant font. They were white but it was in the style of those large, arching Chicano family name style tattoos.
I was handed the assignment of tattooing the woman of the couple because the boyfriend "didn't want another man touching his woman" and I was the only female with a slot.
They just like sucked as people. Were on too many muscle relaxants and kept slipping off the chairs and and jolting up, twitching. They said lots of aggro things etc.
I was lucky that her shoulders were much smaller so I finished her up much quicker than the poor dude that was tattooing her boyfriend. He kept having to come back for more sessions.
Artist for 12 years here.
Had this one guy come in with his soon to be wife and asked if they could tattoo engagement rings on their fingers. I said it wouldn't look good and what not. But they wanted it.. Anyways a couple of days before the session he comes in with a photo of his girlfriends eyes and says forget the rings. I want her eyes instead.
So when the day came I asked him where he wanted the piece and he said right here, pointing right above his dick, and started to chuckle a bit..
So you know he was an adult, 35ish, so we did the piece and he was so happy with it.. he looked at it and said
-Now she can look herself in the eyes when she.. huh-huh you know.. huh-huh
I ran into him a couple of weeks later and, of course, I asked him what she thought of it.
-Naaw ya know we broke up..
I was just thinking.. yeah "we"..
Henna, Mike Tyson, and a Banker
I'm a professional henna artist, so the tattoos I do are not permanent (sometimes this opens doors because people will ask for wild things because it goes away).
However the one story I'll never forget is this guy came into my booth close to closing time with his buddies, they were all drunk but he was definitely more wasted than the rest of them. He wanted me to copy Mike Tyson's face tattoo for him.
I asked him several times if he really wanted to do it. Even his friends kept trying to get him to not do it and kept trying to explain to him that henna, while not permanent, doesn't wash off the next day. It could last for weeks.
He wasn't having it and said he had to have it done. I ended up doing it and dude was super pleased with how it came out that night.
He ended up coming back into my stand around the same time the next night asking how he could get it off cause he had to return to work the next day and said he was a banker so it had to come off.
I had to explain to him again while sober that we tried to tell him last night that you can't just take it off, you have to wait for it to fade naturally and suggested he ask his girlfriend or a female friend for a foundation recommendation as that would probably hide it. He wasn't happy about the fact that he was wrong about it washing off - but he didn't give me any shit about it either. One hell of an experience though.
Auschwitz? Oh No.
I am not a tattoo artist, but I asked this question to the guy who tattooed me a few years ago.
The answer he gave me was when some guy came in and wanted the Auschwitz gates (the one that says 'Arbeit Macht Frei') tattooed on his back, he told the client to go home and think about it for a while.
He actually returned a while later, but in the end the tattoo artist refused to do it, as he didn't want to be associated with a tattoo like that.
When You're Really Excited About Your Job
Not a tattoo artist, but I'm sure I got a tattoo which made the artist cringe. I was at a music Festival in Europe and drunk out of my mind and decided to get my very first tattoo.
So I rock up to the tattoo shop at the festival at about 3 in the morning after been drinking all day and say I want to logo of my company I work for on my chest. He said are you sure?
I said "Yeah man course I'm sure!"
Well I have had it for two years now and I still get shit over it. Apparently it's the funniest thing anyone has ever seen
My sister got me to drive her to a tattoo shop to get one. She told him what she wanted and where.
She wanted leopard print all over her butt, hips, belly and pubic mound. Basically like a tattooed set of leopard print panties.
Then from the front and back there are long scars/scratches down to the underwear area on both sides
It took a couple days and no idea on the cost - but about a year later she started getting it removed I guess. There is something weird about her.
It Lives On YouTube Forever
I watched my cousin get his last name tattooed across his back in large bold letters...it was misspelled.
The second A in the tattoo was supposed to be an O.
I sent the video to comedy central to see if tosh.0 could show it, but never heard from them so it now lives on YouTube forever and I think that's outstanding.
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.