Tattoo Artists And Customers Who Have Messed Up Ink Break Down The Aftermath

Tattoo Artists And Customers Who Have Messed Up Ink Break Down The Aftermath
Photo by Lucas Lenzi on Unsplash

It takes a lot of trust to get a tattoo. After all, you're walking into a shop and telling someone you barely know, "Hey, can you please alter my body with ink? Also, don't mess it up or it will follow me around forever, haunting my very existence." Except, sometimes you do mess it up and it does follow you around forever. Most tattoo artists are skilled enough to work around their mistakes and cover them up, but some are too big to fix and that's what the following entries are all about.

*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.

Reddit user, u/T_S_Sean, wanted to hear:

Tattooists of Reddit, have you ever messed up a tattoo on someone and what was the fallout?

What A Tribute

I tattoo with my best friend. They wanted a tribute for their dog that passed and I had sketched a couple of designs up in my spare time. One night we were bored and decided to take their favorite sketch and slap it on them. It was supposed to read "Little James" with a little cartoon version of their dog beneath.

But the sketch read "Litte James" and we both failed to notice because the font was so stylized. Neither of us realized it was misspelled for 3 months! We're still best friends and love telling the story. They owe me a misspelled tattoo now and I honestly cannot wait!


Yoar Gonna Love It

Not the artist, am the oops. Got some lyrics tattooed on me, but "your" became "yoar" - I suspect he was aiming to go over the O but did the U instead.

Result was crying me, guilt from him and almost 3.5 years of free laser removal to fix. I have gotten tattoos from him after that but have since moved.


A Permanent Oopsie

My dad once brought a tattoo gun from a weird website. Once he got it he wanted to see if it worked by drawing a small line in his palm. Oh it worked. But now he has a permanent small line on his palm. He never touched that gun ever again


"Punce" Up, Not Down

I knew a girl who had a tattoo of boxing gloves that said "Roll with the punces" (obviously supposed to be punches.) I pointed it out to her and she didn't care at all. Apparently she really was good at rolling with the punces. And no I'm not kidding.


You Learn To Live With It

Not an artist but have two experiences of this:

  1. An almost moment in my first tattoo. Told the guy I wanted a quote from LOTR, from Aragorn's prophecy "not all those who wander are lost"

When he showed me the sketch it said wOnder not wAnder.

It's an easy/common mistake to make but it completely changes the meaning and is a mis-quote. Luckily I caught it and decided to lose the wording in any event!

2. I had the tattoo, a bird, done in 2 sessions. First session we did the line work and discussed colour, I said I wanted it as colourful as possible. As we'd already discussed it, I thought it was covered.

Second session about 3/4 weeks later, he starts on the tattoo and he gets out mostly brown and grey inks. I didn't realise until it was too late that those weren't just colours for the more "shadowy" parts, that was the whole tattoo!

Tried to convince myself that I liked it, but after 3 or 4 years I've now accepted that I don't like the colours or really the design itself and I've had it lasered so it can be covered up by another artist.


There Is No Reason Why You Should Be Inking People

Holy sh-t. I bought a tattoo gun like 15 years ago and with no training just started going hell bent on myself and then my friends.

My thighs are literally covered with indecipherable crap that then gets slightly better as it works it way down towards my knees. Over the course of a few weeks I got slightly better and told this guy I could do a tribal sleeve LOL. F-cking way beyond my scope. I had no business putting a needle near anyone else's skin. The dude was flabby and I hadn't worked on flabby people before and it was all different. Basically it was a big f-cking mess and the guy was filthy, always covered in dirt so it got badly infected. So at least after that I realized I could really hurt someone and stopped.


Not All Machines Are Perfect

F-cked up some biomech on a guys f-cking HAND about 15 years ago. Still haunts me


What's biomech? I don't have any tattoos so I don't know if this is an industry term or what. Genuinely curious.


It's a style. Biomechanical. Basically integrating man with machine.


Maybe We Should Go Back To Teaching Cursive In Schools...

Had a close friend getting his first tattoo. Kind of an uptight guy. Our mutual bud is an illustrator and he calls him over and explains that his appointment for the tattoo is in 30 minutes and he asks that our bud write, in calligraphy, the word "home" to be copied by the tattoo artist. Although hurried our bud reluctantly does so.

Friend goes to the tattoo parlor and I see him late that night. He proudly pulls down his shirt to show me the word "home" written big on his chest in calligraphy.

But here's the thing: in cursive, unless you're really careful, an "e" is almost indistinguishable from an "o".

So I'm looking at my uptight friend, and he has in big floral writing the word "HOMO" tattooed on his chest.

I swore in that moment that I would never mention it to him — maybe that's wrong. But I'll bet I'm not the only of his friends who've noticed it.


Okay, Seriously, Stop Getting Hammered And Then Tattooing

I do a lot of home tattoos. Got a machine not too long ago, but had done stick n pokes since I was like 15. So it's trashy/punk/diy/whatever, but it's fun and I got pretty decent at it, especially with words.

My girlfriend and I got hammered one night and decided to get three numbers we both love tattooed on us.

She did mine first, went off without a hitch. Looks as great as it can with very little background on her part.

It was my turn to tattoo her now and that's when I realized I forgot that 9 doesn't face right, like P.

She laughed at my stupidity and she just wanted me to black out the spot with a little box and do the number a little below it to make it look stylized.

NBD because it was my gf and done in a diy front room, but still was a stupid-a-- mistake and I can't imagine doing that to someone who isn't that close to me.


It's Not What You Think

There was a guy I worked with that wanted bada-- written on his arm in cursive. He went to a new shop that just opened up.

It looked like it said beepuss.


Not One Big Part, But Lots Of Smaller Parts

i literally mess up almost every time i tattoo. i'm not a pro and i have no training or license and i TELL EVERYONE THAT but because i'm a good artist people still beg me to tattoo them. so i do simple things like outlines and words that can be fixed even if i f-ck up bad (which i haven't yet) but every time there are definitely a few shaky lines or f-cked up parts of the tattoo.

yeah i know i shouldn't tattoo people if i have no training, but i know enough to be sanitary and i warn them that i will probably f-ck up a little bit and people are still okay w it so whatever


Don't Stop...Bellievieing?

Not me, but a friend

He bought a kit from somewhere and tattooed random people (unlicensed)

What people didn't know was that he was terrible at art and horrible at basic spelling

So many people took him to small claims to get money back

My favorite? He tried spelling "believe" Resulted in "Bellievie"


It's Easy To Take One On The...Cin?

I knew a girl who had a tattoo of boxing gloves that said "Roll with the punces" (obviously supposed to be punches.) I pointed it out to her and she didn't care at all. Apparently she really was good at rolling with the punces. And no I'm not kidding.



I once had a woman come in when I worked at a walk in shop. She had her whole family with her. She was getting her first tattoo at 70+(can't remember exact age). She was getting something that included the birth-death dates of her recently deceased husband. Her whole family saw the design. They were really excited. Let me repeat, the whole family saw the design. So I do the tattoo, the woman loves it, and then her daughter sneaks back over while I'm tearing down.

She whispers to me that her mother had gotten the dates wrong. I felt so bad. They even knew she had dementia problems apparently, and no one looked at it closely enough to see if she had gotten the dates correct. Unfortunately it wasn't dates that could easily be changed to another number. I told them I could cover it after she healed but I never saw them again :/


In Time...

I got a tattoo apprenticeship as a teenager and a few of my friends got small tattoos by me. One night, very high, directly after my sweet 16 (I was still in my dress) I was tattooing a friend of mine who wanted "Eventually Everything Will End" written up her ribcage. Halfway through the Eventually we realize i've gone slightly off transfer and the whole thing is crooked. I am mortified. My blood ran cold, I imagined she'd hate me forever. Her boyfriend at the time just said "Just add a dot dot dot and make it mysterious, like "Eventually.." like you're trailing off' She looks at me and says "Dot dot dot me up" and I do. She loved that tattoo, even got it inscribed on a zippo.

Shortly after my 22nd birthday she committed suicide. As a tribute several of her friends got the word "Eventually..." tattooed in her honor, as if to say eventually we may see each other again. My worst f-ck up, one of my best memories. Miss you Kait

(If you ever feel like ending it all, please reach out to someone. Depression is a liar and you will be missed more than you understand)


If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at

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